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Could New Four Team Playoff Eventually Harm Smaller Schools?

By on June 4th, 2014 in Football 4 Comments »

With the transition to a four team playoff in 2014 for Division I (FBS) schools, the scheduling of FCS teams by the big boys may be a thing of the past.

A glimmer of what’s to come was seen in the days after the SEC voted in April to keep the 6-1-1 conference model. It didn’t matter that the SEC and ACC both said their teams will play at least one opponent from the power five conferences beginning in 2016. Many of the sports media decried the move to keep eight game schedules.

Some opined that the SEC scheduling is too soft in comparison to other conferences – No matter that the SEC has dominated in National Championships and bowl wins for the past decade. In particular, they point to the FCS schools that appear on most SEC schedules.

What most of those folks really want to see is the SEC playing more SEC teams so that the league can further weaken it’s positioning for the top four spots in the new playoff system. 

I spend a lot of time in my car listening to sports radio. Most of the time the dial is set to SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation. Everyday for two solid weeks Mark Packer and Eddie George gave the same diatribe about how terrible it was for the SEC to be playing FCS schools.

But this spring is not the first time anyone has mocked what some dub ‘cupcake scheduling.’ However, this is one r that you will never see questioning the practice especially within the nation’s toughest conference, the SEC.

When you have to play in the toughest division (SEC West) and in the toughest conference in the nation, you need a break. Besides not many schools are ready to add the likes of an Auburn, an LSU, a Georgia, or an Alabama to their schedules.  

Most of the big schools schedule those smaller schools right before one of their biggest games. For example this season Alabama will play Western Carolina the week before facing Auburn, Georgia has scheduled Charleston Southern between Auburn and Ga. Tech, and Auburn plays Samford the week before the Iron Bowl.

Contrary to what some think though, it’s not just a practice carried on by the SEC and ACC … of the 128 FBS teams only 23 will not play an FCS opponent in 2014.

Yet, that may become a thing of the past in the very near future, with the new College Football Playoff Committee looking at strength of schedule as a possible factor in choosing the final four teams for the championship playoff.

I’ve always thought that if one truly loves the game, they should be in favor of these type match-ups because it does much more than give the big boys a respite before big rivalry games.

The athletes from these schools have the opportunity to play in some big time venues and even more importantly earn a big payday for their schools. Often times the pay out for the game will fund most of the smaller schools annual budget.

Without those funds many schools may have to face closing down their programs, thereby shrinking the opportunities for student participation in intercollegiate sports. And if that happens … it will be a travesty for college athletics


  1. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    Only two things come from the mouths of those opposed to Top Tier schools playing FCS opponents, both smell really bad.

    1. Sour grapes; from the educated mouths of those wishing their school belonged among the top.

    2. Ignorant Bulls**t; from those who think they understand the entirety of the college game.

    Packer, and George have proven that these two things mentioned above can work together side by side in a radio environment.

    These FCS schools look for a school from the Top Tier to play every year. Just like the shifts we are experiencing in college football today, the reason is clear as to why… MONEY$$$$$$$

  2. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    It is disingenuous to.suggest that an FCS team on a school’s home schedule makes that school’s schedule some how weaker than a school that doesn’t have one. You need to loook at the schedule in totality. Any team that palys in the SEC has a tougher schedule than teams from other conferences. Our bottom teams every year could be competitive (win more games) if they played in a different power 5 conference.

    Besides some times a smaller school will defeat a “big boy” school just like Apalachan State did when they beat Michigan a few years ago and when La Monroe beat Alabama in Saban’s first year and when Ga. Southern beat Florida last year. Which by the way may be the reason that Will Muschamp said recently he prefers not to play down in the future.

  3. AETiger AETiger says:

    I guess I’ll be in the minority here, but I see no reason for AU or any “Power 5” conference to play a FCS team (other than being a financial windfall for the home team). Seriously, if you are a season ticket holder do you want to see AU play Samford or AL State? I for one do not & do not go to those games. Do the Braves get to play a minor league team? As far as the belief that the FCS schools need the pay check, well sorry; those schools choose which division to participate; manage your own program within its means.
    The Power 5 teams use the game for a win, rest players and move on. We should just go back to eleven regular season games, because in reality, that is what the season is; eleven games versus normal competition and one “gimme” game that is simply a money grab. Just my opinion.
    Don’t get me started on the 6-1-1 SEC schedule……who likes playing TAMU & Arkie every year instead of UT and UF? Given my age, I’ll get to go to two games in Knoxville & Gainesville in my lifetime. Is this anyway to run a conference?

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      You make some good points and I respect your opinion AETiger. I certainly agree with you on not getting to play Tenn and especially old rival Florida. There is more than one way the league could make that happen but unfortunately (for now) it doesn’t look like any are in the plans.