2010 College Football Predictions: 10 Programs That Should Jump From FCS

Philip DodsonCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2010

2010 College Football Predictions: 10 Programs That Should Jump From FCS to FBS

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    As many know, the landscape and structure of college football is far from perfect. A major concern is the fact that .500 football teams accept bids to play in bowl games every year.  Either there are too many bowl games, or the system rewards mediocre play.  As we move towards super conferences, the FBS current membership of 120 programs simply doesn't cut it.

    In the past 20 years, programs such as Connecticut, Marshall, and Boise State have made successful jumps from the FCS (formally Division II) to FBS (formally Division I). Many of these schools would need to complete facility upgrades as they make their way into the highest level of college football.  Here are 10 programs that should plan to make the step from the FCS to the FBS. 

Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (Big East)

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    Location: Newark, Delaware

    Enrollment: 19,391

    Stadium: Delaware Stadium (22,000)

    Potential Conference: Due to the location of their campus and current ties with Villanova, New Hampshire and UMass, the Blue Hens would be placed in the Big East. 

    In 117 years of play, the Blue Hens have claimed six national titles. 

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Joe Flacco, Matt Nagy, Rich Gannon, Conway Hayman, and Scott Brunner. 

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include K.C. Keeler, Tubby Raymond, and David Nelson. 

Appalachian State Mountaineers (Sun Belt)

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    Location: Boone, North Carolina

    Enrollment: 16,968 (2009)

    Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium (21,650)

    Potential Conference: Place the Mountaineers in the Sun Belt due to their location. The conference is weak at the bottom, and Appalachian State would be able to compete. 

    The program makes claim to fourteen conference championships.  

    A few recognizable names to play football at the school include Dexter Coakley, Daniel Wilcox, Matt Stevens, and Dino Hackett. 

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Texas coach Mack Brown in 1983, and the respected current coach Jerry Moore for the past 21 seasons. Under Moore, the Mountaineers claimed three straight FCS national titles from 2005 until 2007 with a record of 189-76 since 1989.  

Villanova Wildcats (Big East)

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    Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Enrollment: 9,535 (2009)

    Stadium: Villanova Stadium (12,500)

    Potential Conference: The Wildcats would be placed in the Big East to maintain a football rivalry against Delaware and due to the location of the campus. 

    A perennial college basketball power, the Wildcats are no slouch in FCS football. Villanova defeated Montana to claim the 2009 FCS national title.  

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Brian Westbrook, Howie Long, Brian Finneran, Ray Ventrone, Bill Hegarty, and Anthony Griggs.

Montana Grizzlies (WAC)

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    Location: Missoula, Montana

    Enrollment: 14,921 (2009)

    Stadium: Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,203)

    Potential Conference: Due to location of their campus, Montana would be placed in the WAC. 

    The Grizzlies have appeared in 17 straight FCS playoffs. The program claimed national titles in 1995 and 2001. 

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Scott Gragg, Tim Hauck, Cory Procter, and Mike Tilleman. 

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Don Read, Joe Glenn, Bobby Hauck, and current coach Robin Pfulgrad. 

Southern Illinois Salukis (MAC)

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    Location: Carbondale, Illinois

    Enrollment: 14,562 (2009)

    Stadium: McAndrew Stadium (17,000). A new stadium is scheduled to open in September 2010. 

    Potential Conference: The Salukis would be placed in the MAC to maintain a natural rivalry against Northern Illinois. 

    Dale Lennon took over as coach of the program after Jerry Kill left to take the same position at Northern Illinois in 2007. 

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Jim Hart, Carl Mauck, Bart Scott, Ernie Wheelwright, and Brandon Jacobs. 

    The Salukis have claimed one FCS national title with a victory over Western Carolina in 1983. 

North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WAC)

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    Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

    Enrollment: 13,172 (2009)

    Stadium: Alerus Center (13,500)

    Potential Conference: The Fighting Sioux would be placed in the WAC due to their location and ability to compete. 

    North Dakota has claimed 24 conference titles in the history of the program. The Fighting Sioux won the FCS Championship in 2001 and were runner-ups in 2003.   

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Scott Schultz, Jim LeClair, Chad Mustard, and Weston Dressler. 

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Dale Lennon, Roger Thomas, and current coach Chris Mussman. 

Northern Iowa Panthers (WAC)

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    Location: Cedar Falls, Ohio

    Enrollment: 13,080 (2009)

    Stadium: UNI-Dome (16,000)

    Potential Conference: The WAC along with North Dakota and Montana. 

    During the history of the program, it has laid claim to 35 conference championships. The Panthers are 9-15 against FBS teams since 1985. 

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Kurt Warner, Mike Furrey, Bryce Paup, and Benny Sapp.

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, and current coach Mark Farley. 

New Hampshire Wildcats (Big East)

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    Location: Durham, New Hampshire

    Enrollment: 15,000 (2009)

    Stadium: Cowell Stadium (8,000)

    Potential Conference: The Wildcats would be placed in the Big East to maintain current ties with Villanova, Delaware, and Massachusetts.  

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Sean Ware, Jerry Azumah, Dan Kreider, and Dwayne Gordon. 

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Oregon coach Chip Kelly (offensive coordinator), Butch Cowell, and Sean McDonnel.   

Youngstown State Penguins (MAC)

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    Location: Youngstown, Ohio

    Enrollment: 14,562 (2009)

    Stadium: Stambaugh Stadium (20,630)

    Potential Conference: The Penguins would be placed in the Mid-American Conference due to the location of the campus.  A natural rivalry is in place with the Akron Zips. 

    The fighting Penguins of Youngstown State have quite the reputation for producing quality coaches, and even an NFL player here and there.  

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Bob Davie, Ron Jaworski, Jeff Wilkins, and Carmen Policy.  

    Coaches to roam the sidelines include Mark Mangino, Mark Dantonio, and Jim Tressel. Under Tressel, the Penguins claimed four FCS (Division II) titles in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1997. 

Massachusetts Minutemen (Big East)

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    Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

    Enrollment: 26,360 (2009)

    Stadium: Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium (17,000)

    Potential Conference: The Minutemen would be placed in the Big East Conference due to the location of the campus.  This would be a seamless transition due to conference make-up for Big East basketball. 

    With a tradition of success in basketball, UMass could gradually make a transition, similar to that of Connecticut, into a respected FBS football program.   

    A few recognizable names to play football at the university include Marcel Shipp, Greg Landry, Milt Morin, and Chicago linebacker Jeremy Cain. 

    The Minutemen hold one FCS (1998) national title on their resume.  The program has won 22 conference championships and accepted bids to three bowl games in the 1960's and 1970's.  

The New Landscape of Four FBS Conferences

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    Big East Conference - With the addition of Delaware, New Hampshire, UMass, and Villanova, the Big East would go from eight to twelve teams.  This would allow the conference to play a conference championship game and split into two divisions. 

    Sun Belt Conference - Currently with nine members, the Sun Belt would become ten with the addition of Appalachian State.  Another possibly future addition could be prestigious Georgia Southern and South Carolina State to give the conference 12 members. 

    Western Athletic Conference - As many already know, Boise State is soon leaving for the Mountain West, and the conference could use an influx with only eight members.  The addition of Montana, North Dakota, and Northern Iowa would push the number of teams to eleven and expand their reach into three new states. 

    Mid-American Conference - Adding Southern Illinois and Youngstown State would push the total number of members from 13 to 15.  The majority of current members are from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.