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FCS Top Dogs and Move Up Discussion


Well-known member
On some thread about the changing FCS/FBS landscape, someone posted a list of the teams that ended up top-ranked in the FCS poll .. . and where they might stand in the “move up” debate. I thought it might be of interest to “follow the money” -- which, for the FCS with almost no TV $$$ -- means home attendance. (Did not try to factor in “money” games with FBS opponents.) The list below is ordered by the average home attendance, shown in brackets. To cross-link with the polls, I show ranked teams in red (FCS poll) or green (black colleges poll). The few shown in blue are programs that have some history of being strong.

Then, as best I could, I trolled news web sites and fan blogs to assess how much interest a program seemed to have in the move up question -- the results noted last on a line. A blank does not necessarily mean there is no interest, just that I could not find anything definite. The results are not pretty.

1. Appalachian St. [26,358] Sun Belt, 2014
2. Montana [25,236] Who knows?
3. James Madison [22,783] Good possibility
4. Old Dominion [20,037] Gone
5. Delaware [18,542] Under discussion
6. North Dakota St. [18516] “Monitoring” + some discussion
7. Ga. Southern [18,487] Sun Belt, 2014
8. Montana St. [17,627] Who knows?
9. Southern U. [16,602]
10. Tennessee St. [16,586] Some discussion
11. Liberty [16,318] Seriously exploring
12. South Carolina St. [16,179] Some discussion
13. Jacksonville St. [16,006] Exploring
14. Alabama St. [15,514] Some discussion
15. Jackson St. [14,462]
16. Florida A&M [14,077]
17. Youngstown St. [14,308] Probably go, if a conference said OK
18. Citadel [13,574]
19. Norfolk St. [12,898]
20. Yale 12,453
21* Georgia St. [12,309] Announced FBS intention
21* Sam Houston St. [12,260] Under discussion
22. UNI [11,905] Under discussion
* Extracted from school web site, since the NCAA did not post their averages.

50. Cal Poly [8,566] Under discussion
64. Villanova [7,144] Exploring
69. NAU [6,787] Under discussion

Of the top 23 attendance leaders, three are already gone (essentially), three or four would go if a conference approached them, and maybe eight are considering the notion. That’s over half, and about ten of those are among the top ranked (polls) teams. You can then factor in the three high-ranked but low-attendance programs that are seriously discussing a move up option.

Not trying to draw any conclusions, or claim that much will happen from all this. Still, it’s clear that the high end (attendance = $$, and/or football strength) of the FCS pond could be “in play” to leave.
Update on move-up status: Florida A&M (FAMU).

I hadn’t been able to pick up much buzz about them. They had some NCAA “issues,” ... plus their big-time band, the “Marching 100,” has been suspended after a hazing incident that resulted in the death of a band member. [You think we got troubles?] As of now, the band is still on suspension, but there’s a lot a pressure to find a new band director so they can lift it and be ready for the start of football.

In any case, their new coach -- Earl Holmes -- has generated a huge buzz in “Rattler Nation.” Holmes was a FAMU walk-on who became a Rattler star, was then drafted in the 4th round by the Steelers, and had a solid 10-year career as a linebacker in the NFL.

Before their troubles, FAMU had -- according to some -- been maneuvering to get into the Sun Belt. They hoped to be part of a division containing the other SB Florida schools, plus the two in Alabama. They are apparently again ready to pursue that dream.
Update on move-up status: Jackson State.

Had a minute, so I tried to find out something about another of the gaps in my chart. Here's what I found for JSU: http://www.cbssports.com/collegefoo...tate-wants-to-build-200-million-domed-stadium

Wow! $200 million for a domed stadium? The notion apparently fits into some sort of general "rehabilitation" that the city of Jackson is trying to pull off. (It is the capital of Mississippi, after all.) The comments attached to the CBS Sports article do not seem to mention "moving up" to FBS -- but other fan boards sure do.

The planners say they're thinking in terms of multi-purpose, but football is pretty much the only event that is likely to draw that many fans. So far as I can tell, they have not come close to filling their old 60-thousand seat stadium since the Mississippi FBS schools stopped playing a few games there (last time in the early to mid-1990s). Realistically, this scheme only makes sense if they DO plan to move up to (some conference) and host home FBS games there.
ordigger said:
You missed a number of other schools that were approached by the Sun Belt exploring the individual schools interest in moving up.


Illinois State, Lamar, Missouri State, Richmond, Towson & Tennessee-Chattanooga

Pretty much the majority of the top FCS programs are at least looking at it. Money drives it, not NC wins.
That's very interesting.

My list mostly concentrated on the high-attendance programs (that being related to the money they brought with home games), since someone else had already posted information on the top-ranked (polls) schools that were looking into moving up. Then I used color to emphasize those teams that were both high(er) attendance and ranked in the polls. The three low-attendance, but ranked teams I listed -- Cal Poly, 'Nova and NAU -- were just "thrown out there."

The three poll-ranked teams in your post (red added) fit in that category. Illinois State is #72 in home attendance, while Richmond and Towson were #48 and #49, respectively.

All in all, as you say: "Pretty much the majority of the top [however you define 'top'] FCS programs are at least looking at it."