The FCS mailbag returns for another dose of questions from fans.
Let’s dive right into them.
How many teams will the FCS playoff expand to in the near future (probably 32) and will the SWAC and MEAC rejoin the playoff field or continue with their bowl game?
I don’t think the playoffs are going to expand. Although MVFC commissioner Patty Viverito did say she’d be in support of a playoff expansion since the ASUN and WAC will have auto-bids when they are fully-formed conferences.
But 24 is a good number — 12 AQs and 12 at-large bids. Thirty-two is too many and would water down the bracket even more. And 16 is too low and would also weaken the bracket because of fewer at-large bids for the Big Sky, CAA, MVFC, Southland, etc.
The Celebration Bowl makes more sense for the SWAC and MEAC. More money, more fanfare, end the season on a higher note, etc. The MEAC went 0-8 in the playoffs in the 2010s. And the SWAC doesn’t seem interested in participating. The conference could have accepted an AQ into the spring bracket but declined it to have its own conference championship game.
This is first season of a new decade, when 2029 concludes, who will be kings of the FCS?
10s: JMU, NDSU
00s: App State, Montana
90s: Youngstown, Marshall, Georgia Southern
80s: Georgia Southern & EKU
People deny it, but decade changes are real.
If JMU and NDSU stay in the FCS this decade, I’d be willing to bet at least one of them is in the national title game eight out of 10 years. Both programs have too much momentum and superior resources to not be at or near the top every year.
If not those two, I’ll say Montana and South Dakota State. But hopefully more teams enter and stay in Tier 1 in the 2020s and there isn’t a king or kings of the FCS.
Will this spring seasons champions carry more momentum into the following fall than a normal seasons champion would?
Yes, because rosters will look nearly identical in the fall. And I think teams who played this spring have an early-season advantage over teams who didn’t play and went nearly two years without game action. However, I will be interested to see how fresh a team like SDSU looks in the 2021 fall playoffs compared to a team like Montana State.
Does this #1 Seed SDSU team feel like a carbon copy of a National Title NDSU/JMU team; or do they have their own identity and style?
The Jacks have their own identity and style in terms of their scheme. But their overall recipe is the same as the past championship teams of NDSU and JMU — physical on the offensive and defensive lines, a good defense, multiple options at RB, solid WRs, and a dual-threat QB who can make plays in big moments.
Thoughts on the TV viewership? I find it quite disappointing with how low it is.
Yeah, they were lower than I expected, but this is further proof that football in the spring just doesn’t work. It’s also proof that the FCS bringing on new casual college football fans is a challenge. Instead, I think the focus should be on getting current FCS fans to pay more attention to things nationally. While there are the diehards that listen to national podcasts and read national coverage, most fans of FCS teams only pay attention to coverage of their team or their conference.
When will the ASUN get a 6th football school? Who will it be?
I have no idea who the sixth team will be, I’m being honest. I don’t know if anyone has a good guess. It seems to me the ASUN is having a harder time finding that sixth team than it expected. The spring season has overshadowed any updates on the ASUN’s expansion plans.
What would be your ideal Frisco matchup that would make for the best game?
All of the potential matchups have great storylines. The best storyline would probably be K.C. Keeler facing his former team Delaware, where he won a national title as the head coach in 2003.
For the best atmosphere, JMU vs. SDSU would be best.
And as far as your actual question for the best matchup that would make for the best game, I’d say SHSU vs. SDSU would be the most exciting game to watch.
What position group is SDSU’s biggest liability, and why is it the secondary?
The Jacks gave up 316 yards passing to a talented group of Southern Illinois receivers last week, so that’s definitely a concern. Delaware doesn’t sling it quite like SIU, so I’d be more worried about a potential Frisco matchup with SHSU rather than this weekend. SDSU matches up better against the Blue Hens compared to the Salukis. But Delaware still has the ability to connect on a big play set up by its strong rushing attack, so SDSU’s corners need to have a better game for the Jacks to advance.
What sense do you have for how many kids (who otherwise would be done this spring) may take the offer to return in the fall and what then happens to incoming players (new high school grads) who are trying to land roster spots? Will rosters be expanded, temporarily or otherwise?
The NCAA is allowing teams to go over the scholarship limits, which in the FCS is 63 scholarships split up for 85 players. For the FBS, it’s just 85 full-ride scholarships. I’m not sure how long that scholarship increase will be allowed, whether it’s one, two, or three years.
We know FBS schools will take advantage of this with returning seniors on scholarships plus signing a big recruiting class because they can afford those extra scholarships. That’s not the case for FCS schools. While some FCS programs may be able to afford, for example, 75 scholarships for the fall, others can’t. So there will be/have been tough conversations for seniors who want to play one more season but aren’t big contributors.
If a program can only afford the 63 scholarships, a senior backup offensive lineman who wants to be a part of the team for one more season could have his half-scholarship pulled because that needs to go to an incoming freshman for the long-term health of the program.
I’m a Weber Fan I have a few questions: 1. I felt that a lot of the top teams had people excuse them for bad games but didn’t give Weber the same benefit of the doubt. Just wanted your thoughts on that. 2. Also after the NAU game Bronson played the full Season with a broken non throwing hand. So if he stays Healthy how good do you think he will be this fall. 3. On the same note I felt Weber had glimpse of having an Explosive offensive did you see the same thing?
1. It’s all about one’s narrative and the lens they view something from. Weber has close games against Big Sky teams with bad records = Big Sky fans say this must mean the Big Sky is pretty good, other conference fans say this must mean Weber isn’t very good. The reality is it was somewhere in between. The bottom teams in the Big Sky are getting better, but Weber was just lacking that ability to pull away in the fourth quarter this spring.
2. I do think Bronson Barron has a bright future with him being just a freshman. You can see the arm talent when he throws the ball. Will he be an All-American or First Team All-Conference type of QB? Maybe not. But all Weber needs is good QB play to be a really good football team. More importantly, Barron needs to be good against top teams, not just against bottom teams. That’s something Weber has struggled with, especially deep in the playoffs.
3. Weber has the players on the outside to be more explosive. The RB room is also solid. And like I mentioned above, Barron does have the arm strength to stretch the defense. It just didn’t all click for Weber this spring. Some of that had to do with the starts and stops early in the season. Barron hurting his non-throwing hand also didn’t help. The big thing, from my perspective, is the Wildcats really struggled to finish drives. The offense was good in between the 30s, but stalled often, which kept those games closer than they should have been.
Last week stopping the run was the priority for SHSU, daring NDSU to beat them with Cam Miller’s arm. They succeeded and obviously dominated on D. A few weeks ago that may have worked on JMU too but after the last 2 games, with Johnson really coming into his own, Wells Jr. becoming a freaking stud and a sneaky good receiving corps do you think a more balanced JMU will pose more of an issue for the SHSU D?
For sure. The only way NDSU had any offensive success this spring was running the ball or chucking it downfield with one minute left before halftime. That was a terrible matchup for the Bison last week because SHSU’s run defense is legit.
JMU and NDSU’s offensive lines are probably on par with each other. But the Dukes have the better stable of RBs. They will probably find more success on the ground against the Bearkats, yet I don’t think it’ll be something where the Dukes run for 300 yards. The best chance for JMU to consistently move the ball is through the air. SHSU’s passing defense is No. 90 in the FCS, allowing 278.4 yards a game, although that number is skewed with the pass-happy Southland conference. The Kats allow 68.9 rushing yards per game (No. 4 in the FCS).
So JMU winning this game is going to come down to Cole Johnson. The Dukes aren’t going to abandon their style and ask Johnson to throw it 40 times. But I also don’t think JMU can throw the ball 17 times (like it did against UND) and win. Antwane Wells Jr. has emerged as the best young WR in the FCS. In the playoffs, he’s caught 11 passes for 275 yards and three TDs. And I think Kris Thornton is a very underrated weapon for the Dukes. They’ll both need to make plays Saturday.