FCS Football: 10 Programs That Should Jump From FCS To FBS

As many know, the landscape and structure of college football is far from perfect.  A major concern is the fact that 6-6 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 twenty 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 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)

Location: Newark, Delaware

Enrollment: 19,391

Stadium: Delaware Stadium (22,000)

Potential Conference: Due to the location of 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)

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 university 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)

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)

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 Pflugrad.

Southern Illinois Salukis (MAC)

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)

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 the 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)

Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Enrollment: 13,080 (2009)

Stadium: UNI-Dome (16,000)

Potential Conference: The WAC due to an abundance of teams Conference- USA.

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)

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)

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)

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

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.

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~ by philip d. on August 6, 2010.

23 Responses to “FCS Football: 10 Programs That Should Jump From FCS To FBS”

  1. I don’t see YSU moving up anytime soon. Akron and Kent want no part of YSU in the MAC because it will kill them in recruiting.

  2. ” The Fighting Sioux won the FCS Championship in 2001, and were runner-ups in 2003.”

    Uh, no. The Fighting Sioux won the NCAA D-II championship in 2001. Montana won the FCS in 2001; Colgate was the runner-up in 2003.

  3. Also — Division 1 FCS was formerly known as Division 1-AA. The name was changed to Division 1 FCS in 2006.

  4. This article is full of incorrect statements and flaws. For starters “FCS (formally Division II) to FBS (formally Division I)” it is not FORMALLY Division II or FORMALLY Division I, however it was FORMERLY Division I-AA and FORMERLY Division I-A. Villanova used to play at the I-A level, but dropped because there is no support for football there. Even when they won their national championship, it was a tree falling in the forest. Appalachian State wouldn’t go from a powerhouse in the FCS to a bottom feeding conference like the Sun Belt. The Big East wouldn’t extend invitations to UD, UMass, & UNH because they’d have to bring the basketball teams into the conference and there are already 16 teams playing basketball in the Big East.

  5. Why would anyone think that Northern Illinois is located in Ohio?

  6. UND in the WAC? Since when does the conference sponsor hockey?

    Last time I checked, their program was losing to NAIA schools….

    A move back to DII is more likely in order!

  7. this guy meant NDSU not UND. get a clue.

  8. This is an absurd article. As Aaron has already pointed out it’s full of factual errors, misstatements and loony-tune conclusions. Obviously, the author knows little or nothing about FCS football and the top programs. Based on the idiot ideas advanced in this article I suppose JMU and ODU should prepare to be placed in the ACC, and GSU in the SEC!

  9. Thanks for the read everyone, I am sure you are all right and this is simply opinion. Instead of complaining, I encourage readers to make a list of ten FCS programs that should make the jump and which conferences they should be in. I am curious since you all follow FCS more then I do, which is correct. I spend time following the big boy schools and when I start getting paid to write, then I will take your negative comments to heart. Thanks again.

  10. All we ask is that if you decide to write something about FCS football, at least do your research. A quick check of Wikipedia would have corrected your factual errors, for crying out loud. If you spend all your time following the “big boy schools” (wow, talk about condescending), that’s fine — don’t write about something you have no clue about, then get mad when people correct your errors.

    But since you asked, my own list of programs who COULD move up to FBS. I’m not going for ten, just because I’m not sure there are 10 right now that have both the ability and the inclination. As far as conferences go, I couldn’t hazard a guess; there are too many considerations outside of football. One of the things that has been discussed is a group of FCS schools moving up en mass and forming a new FBS conference (once the moratorium is lifted, of course)

    1. Appalachian State. One of the most solid programs in FCS football, and a perennial championship contender. (And they made Michigan look stupid, which is always a plus)
    2. James Madison. Strong fan base, great facilities, historically strong team (last year notwithstanding).
    3. Montana. The only thing holding them back is the fact that they like being the big dogs of FCS.
    4. Villanova. They’ll need some stadium improvements, but they’ve already got their foot in with the Big East. If anyone moves up, Villanova will move up. They’re the only team I can think of with a sure-fire conference connection in FBS football.
    There are others who have aspirations of moving up. Georgia State starts their FCS program this fall, and they’ve made it pretty clear that they’re moving to FBS in the not too distant future. They’ve got the financial resources to do it; it remains to be seen whether they’ve got the program to do it. Old Dominion University has the fan base and the finances to do it, but they’re in their second year of football, so it still remains to be seen what their program can do — although they did quite well last year. Liberty University is another FCS school who has the finances to make the jump — they’ve had some success with their football program for the past several years, and are building some impressive new facilities, so there’s some potential there.

    Biggest problem most FCS schools face is money. Stadium improvements and the increased amount of scholarships involved in making the jump keep a lot of very good football teams from making the transition. It’s not all about talent, after all — ask Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, and a few other “bog boy schools” about their experiences with their little brothers from the FCS.

  11. Warren, thank you for the response. Very well thought out, and in my earlier comment I stated that most of the readers comments were correct. I didn’t get mad earlier, and you responded with ideas and teams you believe should move up, not just complaining. Good luck to the FCS, I appreciate the feedback, and enjoy the upcoming season.

  12. I like the list of teams suggested… however , you do have some serious factual errors that are not opinions. FCS was not the former Division II. FCS was previously known as Div.1AA and FBS is the former Div1A.

    Personally, I’d like to see App. State, GA Southern, Youngstown St., Montana, UMass, and Delaware all move up. I also think Richmond and McNeese St. could possible field a competitive team at the FBS level. I doubt any of these teams could move directly to a BCS conference but with the right planning, they could get there in a few correctly planned years (see South Florida and UConn).

  13. Looks like you haven’t hear TxState or UTSA wanting to make the jump. UTSA hasn’t even play a down yet.

  14. FYI, South Alabama is already slated to join the Sun Belt as a football member in the next few years.

  15. Looks like the WAC could be in trouble of losing there FBS statis.

  16. You think Montana does not want to move up because they are the big dogs in the FCS? If that were true than that would be the lamest excuse any school could come up with (maybe we should start losing, then look to move up huh). We may be successful in the FCS, but it comes down to money, petitioning the board of regents, and numerous in state affairs to comb out. Plain and simple.

    Also it should be noted that we are not jumping out of our chairs to join the WAC, even though it appears to be are only option at this point to go FBS (as MWC is highly unlikely, and PAC-10 is a no chance).

    I personally want the Griz to be FBS as we have the support, record, and facilities in order to do so now. Just need a large long term loan – anybody interested 😉

  17. Thank you for mentioning South Carolina State in your article. The football program at SC State had made progressive improvement in recent years. A jump to the FBS may not be an obtainable goal for the Bulldogs.

    NCAA has changed the declination from Div 1A and Div 1AA not to imply that one division is more talented than the other. But to differentiate the school s that will spend big for their football program and offer more scholarship, and those school that doesn’t.

    SC State can recruit the best talent. Look at Deacon Jones, Donnie Shell, Harry Carson and Darryl Porcher to name a few. We are in a small state with two prenatal power houses, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. In the eyes of the state legislature, SC State is the foster child when it comes to funding the state supported schools. And beside the school officials are considering participating in a meaningless end of the season Legacy Bowl. The Legacy Bowl, which will be sponsored by ESPN, would match the regular season conference champion of the SWAC and MEAC. To participate in this televised postseason football game means MEAC forfeiture of the conference’s automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and a chance at a national championship.

    South Carolina State has made great stride to be competitive and gained respect across the FCS world. However, the Bulldogs will have to remain eligible for FCS playoffs and win games against Appalachian State, Villanova and Montana in the first place before considering a jump to the FBS.

  18. Interesting article, I like the way it was written, not just what was written. As you can see, FCS (as many have pointed out, not DII) has a loyal fanbase, albeit a much smaller one than your “big boy” schools. We are always fighting for more respect and recognition, and a lot of the time if one of the posters at one of the FCS message boards finds an article pertaining to FCS which is erroneous, condescending, and/or misinformed, well you see what happens. We love our brand of football, and if you write something like your article, we will let you know about. Don’t worry though, you aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last.

    That being said, your list isn’t too bad, although North Dakota State would be a much better target than UND. NDSU plays in a dome with a capacity of just over 19,000 in Fargo. They have defeated the Minnesota Gophers & Central Michigan in recent meetings, but are coming off their worst season in since moving up from DII to FCS.

  19. I’d like to know how the University of Idaho remains in FBS with a stadium that only holds 12,000 ?

  20. Seeing as how there is not a single 1A football conference that also hase hockey, your point is moot.

  21. Benny – Actually, The university of Idaho plays in the Kibbie dome, and it holds 16000. I think you may be thinking of Idaho State University, their dome holds 12000.

  22. most of you havent done your homework! fcs schools are required to have facilities to seat at least 20,000 and have an average attendance of that amount for at least two years! most of the schools all of you listed would have to have hefty renovations ,not to mention the amount of money to provide scholarships.
    my list of current teams that could move up now are as follows.
    1. youngstown st.~ most likely would have to settle for independent status seeing how overloaded the mac is currently with ohio schools.
    2.montana~ would be a perfect fit for the wac. with boise,nevada, and fresno bolting to the mwc and hawaii
    having the intention of following byu to the independents, the wac needs to move fast. seeing the current wac lineup montana would be able to compete almost immediately.
    3. villanova~ with renovations to its facilities underway, the wildcats already have an invitation to play as the big easts tenth school. now that tcu has excepted a bid for membership it should be an easy sell.
    4.jacksonville state~ the newly renovated paul snow stadium gives jsu the ability to make a move to fbs. this would put jsu up against old rival troy. with a win over fbs ole miss and a near miss in 2009 vs florida state ,jsu could compete well in the sunbelt.
    5.texas state~ new renovations to its facilities underway ,tsu has already made a bid for the jump. its likely home would be the wac.
    this is a list of schools who could move up with a little help.
    1.appalachain state~sun belt
    2.richmond~big east(football only)
    3.massachusetts~big east(football only)
    4.georgia southern~sun belt
    possible confrence alignments if all nine make jump.
    WAC~if the wac makes good on its intentions to lure north texas ,it would have the min. requirement of 8 programs
    1.idaho 2.louisiana tech 3.montana 4.new mexico state 5.north texas 6.san jose state 7.texas state 8.utah state
    SUN BELT~ east division. 1.appalachain state 2. florida atlantic 3.florida international 4.georgia southern 5.middle tennessee 6.western kentucky. west division.
    1.arkansas state 2.jacksonville state 3.south alabama 4.troy 5.ul-lafayette 6.ul-monroe
    BIG EAST. north division
    1.connecticut 2.masschusetts 3.pittsburgh 4.rutgers 5.syracuse 6.villanova . south division
    1. cincinnati 2.louisville 3.richmond 4. texas christian 5.south florida 6.west virgina
    MAC- adding southern illinois to west division to balance the divisions at 7 each.

  23. The Sun Belt already has 10 members. South Alabama will begin play in the conference in 2013 and already has membership. App State would make 11.

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