The Move to FBS: The Cons

When people talk about the recent successes of Appalachian football, everyone immediately jumps to the conclusion that we’re ready for FBS and that instant results will follow. This post will take a look at why FBS shouldn’t be a preferred destination and why the Mountaineers need to stay in FCS.

Bad Results on the Field. A lot of people look at the recent result against Michigan and the strong showings against other FBS opponents and believe that App could jump right in now and be competitive. I believe it would take a few years before we could claim a season to be a success at the FBS level. The App faithful definitely support the Mountaineers in droves now but will the crowds at The Rock still be standing room only when we finish a season 4-8 or 3-9 or worse? Just as recently as this century, App couldn’t sell out a home playoff game. Obviously, three national titles are going to bring the crowds, but will they stay around?

Loss of rivalries and unfamiliar opponents. A move forward would eliminate the natural rivalry with Western Carolina and the popular rivalries with schools such as Georgia Southern and Furman. Unless some of these schools joined Appalachian in moving to FBS, the Apps would no longer play. While it could be argued that the games against Western Carolina are really a rivalry in name only, I believe the long-time fan base would be upset to lose that tradition. While tickets are hard to come by even for a game against Lenoir-Rhyne now, fans still recognize the traditional Southern Conference opponents and remember the history of those past games. It will take several years before fans develop any sense of tradition or emotion when schools such as Western Kentucky or Arkansas State come to Boone.

Empty seats. This point relates to the two above. How will our fan base react to a few difficult years? Will they give the program a “grace period” in which to adjust to FBS or will instant results be expected? And if those results aren’t achieved, will the fans just stop coming? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I’ve seen first-hand how fickle a fan base can be at times.

Financial drain on the entire athletic program. One of my biggest fears about moving to FBS is how it would affect the budgets of the other sports in the athletic department. Changing conferences to a league with a wider region than the Southern Conference would most definitely nearly double the travel budgets of other sports in the athletic department. Recruiting budgets would need to be increased to get better athletes in the the program in order to compete at a higher level.

No more playoffs.  No more national championships. A departure from FCS competition would effectively end any chance of the Mountaineers ever getting another national title in football.  With the current structure of the BCS and the immense power of conferences such as the SEC, Pac-10, Big Ten, etc., the Apps would be shut out of any chance at a national title.  Even a school such as Boise State, who goes undefeated and wins a BCS bowl, still fails to capture that ultimate moniker of “National Champion.”  Are we willing to sacrifice the excitement of a playoff race for the hope of playing in a bowl game in Mobile, Alabama or some other lower-tier bowl?

These are just a few of the major reasons in my mind why such a move should be considered very seriously. What would you think are some of the other drawbacks to moving to the FBS level?



Filed under The Move to FBS

6 responses to “The Move to FBS: The Cons

  1. Drew

    Would it be possible to move up to 1-a (say Conf USA) for football only? If possible, we could stay in the Southern Conf for other sports but compete in Conf USA for football. I know VMI is still in the SC for wrestling only

  2. Ry

    Another reason would be the lack of recruiting base in NC. We would have another 20+ scholarships to fill and much more competition to do so with the likes of UNC, NCState, Duke, Wake, ECU, etc.

    Also, some of the smaller players we currently have can compete against the likes of BCS schools for one or two games a year (see: Michigan) however, it would be hard to stay durable all season long (see: Armanti, Michigan).

    I personally like the fact we are a strong competitive program that has two BCS conferences that flat out won’t play us. Boise State can’t say that. The playoffs are nice too…

  3. Yosef's Beard

    A football only move is definitely possible but some conferences may not be willing to accept football-only members. The Southern Conference might object to us leaving and not allow us to compete in other conference sports if we don’t play in the SoCon in football.

    Excellent point about the recruiting. I love Jerry Moore just as much as the next guy but can he go toe-to-toe with recruiters like Butch Davis and win talent?

  4. Richard Needham

    We are going to need a couple of years to double our budget in order to do a BCS move any justice.

    Lets ride the FCS wave and see where it takes us.


  5. Ry

    I don’t think its a matter of Jerry’s skill vs. Butch’s. Its just that Butch has a proven record of sending players to the NFL. Jerry/ASU are just starting to send players. Thats the biggest part of recruiting if you are hoping to compete for a BCS game, especially in a state where football recruits aren’t top tier to begin with.

  6. PSUfan

    some of the rivalry games could continue. many FBS teams now routinely play 1 or 2 FCS opponents. look at Temple and Villanova. plus during the years of reclassification half of those regular season games will be against FCS opponents.

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