The FCS: Your spring football fix

We’re coming up on a month without football, and if you’re like me, the symptoms of withdrawal are really starting to set in. This deadly disease can manifest in many ways, from searching up old highlight reels of your favorite player, to watching faceless interchangeable pundits argue about which unpaid teenager should be forced into gladiatorial combat against grown men first (AKA the NFL draft). But never fear, there is an easy cure to this otherwise dreadful malady. One of the few good things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that spring football is more popular as it has ever been, with multiple college conferences and even a new start-up league filling the months in the calendar left vacant by the NFL. Today, we will be discussing one of these many options Never fear, football fanatics – your fix is close at hand.

FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) – Unlike their more recognized counterpart, the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), that for the most part played a normal if slightly stunted fall football schedule, the FCS made the decision back in the early fall to postpone their season to the spring. We as fans now get to reap the rewards of that decision, as we now get to enjoy DI college football all year long. Of course, the FCS works slightly differently than what we as college football fans are used to, so let me lay it out just so there’s no confusion.

The FCS is made up of 125 teams, divided into 13 conferences. Eleven of these divisions have elected to participate: the Big Sky Conference, the Big South Conference, the CAA (Colonial Athletics Association Conference), the MVFC (Missouri Valley Football Conference), the NEC (Northeastern Conference), the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference), the Patriot League Conference, the Pioneer League Conference, the SoCon (Southern Conference), the Southland Conference and the SWAC (Southerwestern Atlantic Conference). The two conferences that have chosen not to participate in this season are the Ivy League and the MEAC (Middle Eastern Athletic Conference)

Depending on the regulations laid out by each individual conference, teams will play a set number of games both in and out of conference, the results of which will decide the ultimate ranking of teams, not unlike the ranking system found within the FBS. However, where the FCS differs is that instead of just selecting the top four teams from that ranking, FCS officials draw up a 16-team bracket. For the 2021 season, this bracket will be unveiled on April 17, with the four rounds of the tournament taking place over the next four weekends. The national championship will then be played on Saturday, May 15, in Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Often relegated to little brother status by the much larger FBS, the FCS is a historically underappreciated football division that frankly deserves a lot more credit for the quality players it produces than it gets. This spring might just be the perfect time to get into it and give it some love.


warren4@stolaf.edu