During the 2014 college football season, there were 55 games pitting a team from a Power-5 conference up against an opponent from the FCS division.
The majority of the games were utterly unwatchable
The average score was 46-13.
The average ticket price for those games can undoubtedly be characterized as far too much for the very simple reason that being forced to pay any amount of money to watch those lopsided atrocities borders on absolute absurdity.
Here are the results from the largely forgettable P5 vs. FCS encounters of 2014.
- Minnesota 42, Eastern Illinois 20
- Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14
- Utah 56, Idaho State 14
- Arizona State 45, Weber State 14
- Michigan State 45, Jacksonville State 7
- Syracuse 27, Villanova 26
- North Dakota State 34, Iowa State 14
- Pittsburgh 62, Delaware 0
- Indiana 28, Indiana State 10
- Iowa 31, Northern Iowa 23
- Kentucky 59, UT-Martin 14
- Georgia Tech 38, Wofford 19
- Missouri 38, South Dakota State 18
- Maryland 52, James Madison 7
- Virginia Tech 34, William & Mary 9
- Oregon State 29, Portland State 14
- Stanford 45, UC Davis 0
- North Carolina 56, Liberty 29
- Duke 52, Elon 13
- North Carolina 56, Liberty 29
- TCU 48, Samford 14
- Texas Tech 42, Central Arkansas 35
- Kansas State 55, SF Austin 16
- Oregon 62, South Dakota 13
- Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24
- Rutgers 38, Howard 25
- Wisconsin 37, Western Illinois 3
- Clemson 73, South Carolina State 7
- Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52
- California 55, Sacramento 14
- Virginia 45, Richmond 13
- Oklahoma State 40, Missouri State 23
- Arkansas 73, Nicholls State 7
- Wake Forest 23, Gardner-Webb 7
- Louisville 66, Murray State 21
- Miami 41, Florida A&M 7
- LSU 56, Sam Houston 0
- Texas A&M 73, Lamar 3
- West Virginia 54, Towson 0
- Baylor 70, Northwestern State 6
- Florida State 37, Citadel 12
- Washington State 59, Portland State 21
- Northwestern 24, Western Illinois 7
- Purdue 35, Southern Illinois 13
- Boston College 40, Maine 10
- NC State 42, Presbyterian 0
- Tennessee 45, Chattanooga, 10
- Vanderbilt 21, Charleston Southern 20
- South Carolina 41, Furman 10
- Ole Miss 48, Presbyterian 0
- Mississippi State 45, UT-Martin 16
- Florida 52, Eastern Kentucky 3
- Georgia 55, Charleston Southern 9
- Alabama 48, Western Carolina 14
- Auburn 31, Samford 7
Under the current scheduling format, Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Big 12 teams each receive three open dates every season to fill with non-conference opponents, while Big Ten teams play four non-conference games.
Most Power-5 teams currently follow the trend of scheduling one FCS opponent, one opponent from one of the G5 leagues (American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt) and at least one opponent from another Power-5 conference to fill up their non-conference schedule.
Power programs justify playing such a lesser opponent by boasting about their generosity of giving the FCS team they’re about to wallop a nice six-figure paycheck for their troubles. In reality, however, greed is the actual main motivation.
The greed to add an easy notch in the all-important win column is obvious, and even on some level understandable, considering how much pressure it is on a coach to produce an impressive final record every year.
What’s most important, though, is that the games are a disservice to the very people that are most loyal to the program: the season ticket-holders.
Sure, season-ticket holders may not hold the same cache and they may not yield the same level of power as a program’s big-dollar boosters. But they’re the ones that pay to see the games, and they’re the ones being bamboozled.
TV viewers can be flipping through, see a 73-7 game, and just change the channel. Season-ticket holders are the ones forced to pay a hefty fee for a poor quality game, just as NFL season-ticket holders have to pay for exhibition games.
That’s why these games need to become exhibition games. There’s a need to install an exhibition weekend to replace the current regular season meetings. I outlined such a scenario in my “Blueprint For a College Football Super Conference” article.
Every season, the third Saturday in August will be a designated exhibition weekend, where teams from the Power-5 conferences host an FCS team of their choosing for an exhibition game at their stadium. The FCS team will earn a nice paycheck for making the trip.
Ticket prices should be half of what the normal going rate is. I would make the game “season-ticket holders get in free” as both a thank you to the most loyal fans and another incentive for more fans to buy season-tickets.
Admittedly, the game would be a glorified spring game, but at that juncture, so close to the beginning of the season, the enthusiasm —and most importantly the attendance —for the all games should be solid.
In a time when every team in the Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Big Ten does not play every other team within their conference due to division format, rational thought would dictate that we should expand the conference schedule by at least one week, and meaningless P5 vs. FCS games should be the casualties.
Overall, the uninteresting blowouts are simply a hindrance to a game that still has so much potential to grow in the future. No fan/consumer wants to see mismatches of that degree. You don’t see it in pro sports.
If college football wants to become a true billion-dollar industry, the sport has to improve non-conference matchups, especially considering they mostly occur in September, in the beginning of the season—a time that’s crucial to hooking in viewers.
The Big Ten got the ball rolling, when conference officials agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents. Now it’s up for the rest of the Power-5 conferences to follow suit and change the current culture.
For once, it would be a systematic change that no fan would complain about.