As with any major decision, you have to weigh the pros and cons before you make your move. So, what are the pros to Appalachian moving up to FBS? (These are in random order)
Money. It’s very simple. While a jump to FBS would definitely cost money, there’s much more to gain at the next level. The increase in dollars would come a number of sources:
Television revenue: Regardless of the conference that Appalachian joins, FBS football gets more television exposure than FCS and would definitely result in higher payouts for the school.
Ticket sales: With a move to FBS, the Mountaineers are more likely to get better home games which would create a greater demand for tickets at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Sales have increased each year since our first national title and would likely grow with a move up.
Booster donations: When you’re asking people to open up their checkbooks to donate money to the school, you need to give them something of value in return for that donation. With high-quality opponents and a greater demand for tickets, boosters would be much more willing to shell out the money.
Multimedia revenue: Many of the BCS schools have signed multimedia deals with companies such as IMG and ISP that guarantee them figures as high as $4 million per year in exchange for the exclusive right to sell signage, marketing promotions and radio/television advertising. A move to FBS might not result in a $4 million guarantee for the Apps, but the possibility of more money is definitely possible.
Bowl payouts: One of the biggest draws is the opportunity to compete in the bowl season. Depending on which bowl Appalachian qualified for, the payouts could be pretty high.
Better schedule – One of the problems Appalachian faces every season is finding quality non-conference opponents. After the Michigan win, it’s difficult to find an FBS team that’s willing to pay the Mountaineers to come in and possibly beat them. Quality FCS teams don’t want to come to Boone because of how consistently App wins at The Rock as well as the difficulty in beating the Mountaineers.
Bowl games – One of the biggest draws to playing at the FBS level is the opportunity to participate in the bowl season. Depending on conference affiliation or how well the Mountaineers rank, the money/media exposure could be a huge bonus for the school.
Increased media exposure – As I mentioned above when I mentioned television revenue, playing at the FBS makes it more likely to see Appalachian on a major network. A great possibility exists of seeing the Mountaineers’ highlights regularly on College Gameday and Sportscenter if we were at the FBS level. Increased national media would benefit more than just athletics as the media attention could benefit the school itself as well.
Better players – The increase in media exposure, better games, better facilities should all result in better players at Appalachian. We can already recruit good enough players for our first team to be able to compete at the FBS level, but now we’d be able to improve our depth to last a full season, game in and game out playing at the top level.
Respect – While it could be argued that we have earned the respect of the nation after our win over Michigan and our three consecutive national titles, I still think there’s a belief that while we could have our day every once in a while against the “big dogs” we couldn’t last a whole season. I think moving to FBS and proving our success would silence many of the doubters.
I’m sure there another positives to making the jump, but I believe these are some of the biggest benefits.
When considering a move to FBS, you always want to look for the success stories. One of the most prominent examples is Boise State. The Broncos competed at the I-AA ranks from 1978 to 1995 as a member of the Big Sky Conference. Boise State won four conference titles while they were a I-AA school and one national title in 1980. Here’s an article from Rivals about the key to Boise State’s success at the next level.
Could Appalachian duplicate the success of Boise State? Just eleven years after they joined the FBS, the Broncos had won a BCS bowl. The next post in this series will look at why a move would hurt and why we couldn’t duplicate the success of Boise State.