- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- The Big Ten has mandated it would no longer play FCS competition as a way to boost its strength of scheduling.
There is no such mandate in the ACC, where league coaches and athletic directors said during spring meetings they have no issues with playing one FCS game per season. Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said discussions about eliminating all FCS games went nowhere during the meetings.
"Geographically the Big Ten has a different set up. They have a relationship with the Mid-American Conference, which works philosophically, geographically, competitively on a lot of levels. We live in an area where there’s an awful lot of FCS football. We have some responsibility, and I think the SEC will do the same thing. I don’t think they’re going to do what the Big Ten has done, either. We feel like we have a responsibility to the sport in our region to continue to play some of those games."
Because if these games go away, many of these FCS programs will not have the money to support themselves. Payouts from these guarantee games support the entire athletic department.
"I just think it’s not something we would feel good about as a league," Bobinski said. "There’s a lot of FCS teams that are important to the sport of college football and we don’t necessarily want to cut them out."
The ACC has gotten some backlash, though, because some teams have had two FCS teams on the schedule. It happened to Florida State last year, though that was out of the Seminoles' control. When West Virginia backed out of their game last season with only months to spare, the Seminoles couldn't find an FBS team to fill the open slot.
"I don’t necessarily want to play them, either, but you go find four nonconference games, it’s a lot harder than finding three," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I would rather play all Division I-A schools but that goes back to finding opponents that are willing to do it. You hate to get in a lot of home and homes because you do lose revenue, but at the same time you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for what they price them out. Those situations will all determine how you schedule games. It’s harder scheduling than people think it is.
"A year ago for us we get punished but here’s the thing, whoever wrote the contract 10 years ago. We (get blamed) for getting out of it but we had nothing to do with it. There was a buyout, so West Virginia bought it out to do what’s best for them."
Clemson is in a similar situation this season, having to play two FCS teams. When the league decided to move to a nine-game league schedule, Clemson jettisoned Kent State for this season. But when Notre Dame agreed to a scheduling partnership, the league went back to eight conference games. It was too late for Clemson to get Kent State back, so it had to add a second FCS team. Georgia Tech also has two FCS teams on the schedule this year for the same reason.
Neither is ideal, and nobody supports playing two FCS games per year.
"Everybody is OK with one," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "There’s a lot of positives that come from it. Duke, it’s important to them to play North Carolina (Central). I think it’s great for us to play somebody in our state, a Furman, a Citadel and really create that revenue for our state and the opportunities for those student-athletes."
Miami athletic director Blake James also said the preference is to keep FCS teams on the schedule.
"You have to always be looking at what puts your program in the best position," James said. "If there were structures put in place by the league, we’d be in line with those parameters. With that said, we’ve scheduled a number of FCS opponents going out and we have a number of commitments to those institutions and we plan on honoring those commitments moving forward."
19hMatt Fortuna and Andrea Adelson