In recent years, several schools have explored the possibility of moving up from the Division I football championship subdivision (formerly I-AA) to the Division I football championship subdivision. The most recent team to make the move was the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers in 2009. However, there are four more teams scheduled for promotion in 2012 to 2013. These include the Jaguars from the University of South Alabama, the Minutemen “UMass” from the University of Massachusetts and Texas State University – San Marcos Bobcats. A fourth program, the University of Texas – San Antonio Roadrunners, is a starter program with no FCS history that goes directly to FBS.
There are several candidates for promotion from FCS to FBS. Knowing who will be promoted next requires a thorough examination of the college football landscape. There is an arms race between major college football programs that has led to conference expansion at major conferences like PAC-12 and the Big Ten, as well as large conference TV rights deals, as well as individual college networks like the Longhorn Network. and BYUtv. . Budgets have skyrocketed and it has become increasingly expensive to build and operate world-class facilities and provide the best tools for the 85 scholarship soccer players to compete at the highest level.
While less prestigious conferences like Mountain West, Mid American Conference, and Conference USA have had a harder time keeping up financially with the big boys, they are likely to benefit from the fact that college football is so popular right now that major Television networks like ESPN and Fox are looking for whatever college football programming they can get, and these conferences are in a position to provide the networks with a reasonable return on a lower investment. Schools like the University of Montana are likely looking at these television offerings and thinking, while we like the playoff format at FCS, could we potentially benefit from the money and television exposure that comes with playing in a major FBS conference?
Villanova is actively considering moving from FCS to FBS. Since they are already members of the Big East Conference for all other sports, they would be in the enviable position of immediately being a member of an Automatic Qualifier (AQ) conference. In addition to the aforementioned University of Montana Grizzlies, other schools that have been mentioned more frequently include the Montana State University Bobcats, the Lamar University Cardinals, the University of California – Davis Aggies, the Lumberjacks of the Northern Arizona University, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs and the Appalachian State Highlanders. . All of these schools, with the exception of Appalachian State, are likely candidates for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) which has been decimated by dropouts from Boise State University, University of Hawaii-Manoa, California State University – Fresno, and University of Nevada. – Reno. The Appalachian state would be a strong candidate for the Sun Belt or possibly even the US Conference.Another program you should pay attention to is the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. They are starting an FCS program in 2013 and it could be a fast forward program.