Have you ever been put in a situation that you felt you just couldn’t win, no matter what you do? That’s how some college football coaches must feel when they look at the schedules and see that they are slated to play an FCS school.
As far as the FBS schools are concerned, they can’t really benefit from matching up with an FCS school. If they win, big deal. Everyone expects the big schools to beat up on the “little guys.”
What do you gain by beating a school in a division below you? You get one win that counts towards bowl eligibility, but you could get that win by playing a bottom-tier Division I school.
Recruits aren’t going to be impressed with an FCS opponent, either. When a program brings in potential recruits for a weekend, they want to show them what a great experience they could have should they choose to commit to that particular school.
The game day experience isn’t going to be nearly as exciting if you’re playing the Spiders from Richmond or the Wofford Terriers as it would be with USC’s Trojans or the Texas Longhorns coming to your school.
There’s a different feeling in the air when your squad is playing a big game. No matter how good the FCS opponent might be, they can’t live up to the hype and pageantry that comes with playing an elite opponent.
You may lose that game, but a recruit is likely to be more impressed with a loss to an elite opponent than they would be with a throttling of subdivision school.
If the Division I school does what they’re expected and thrashes their small-school adversary, it’s not going to be a big deal. They’re expected to destroy them. Crushing a little school isn’t going to garner you many votes with the pollsters.
However, if you schedule an FCS school and you struggle to defeat them, or even worse, manage to get beaten by the small school, that can set your program back in a monumental way.
The odds aren’t with the FCS school, but teams like Appalachian State and North Dakota State have shown that they can play with, and defeat the big boys.
The way I see it, the risk is just too great. An FCS school gets hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the trip to an FBS stadium. The FBS school gets a decent shot at a win, but they also risk embarrassment, fan apathy and flat-out humiliation.
Sometimes it’s just not worth it.