Should SEC teams play FCS-level opponents? Head coaches weigh in

NCAA Football: Florida-Spring Game

I thought the scheduling debate had already been settled?

Guilty as charged, only this time coaches weighed in on whether or not to play FCS-level opponents at the SEC spring meetings. It seems the SEC will let every school decide for itself whether or not to play them, differing from the Big Ten, which agreed not to play them.

RELATED: Future SEC scheduling rotation announced

Florida head coach Will Muschamp said the Gators wouldn’t play FCS-level opponents in the future.

“I think more anything that [football playoff] is part of it, and our fan base, as much as anything, wants to see better opponents,” Muschamp said.

The Gators, of course, lost to an FCS school for the first time in history against Georgia Southern, but Muschamp cited the fan base wants better opponents, hinting at attacking the attendance decrease.

Nick Saban, however, says that even though he advocates playing Big Five conference opponents only, sometimes schools have no choice.

“We try not to do it now, but sometimes it’s all that we have left to schedule 12 games,” Saban said. “It’s not by choice that we want to do it. The first people that need to be taken for consideration — who get no consideration — are the fans and people who support the program.”

Georgia head coach Mark Richt advocates playing FCS opponents, mostly because of the FCS’ budget needs.

“What I’m learning is if we as BCS teams — or whatever you want to call us these days — if we don’t have those games with the FCS schools, a lot of them have a very difficult time making their budgets,” Richt said. “I think college football is too important at all levels to hurt them by setting criteria that would not allow you to play them.”

Every SEC football team’s schedule will feature an FCS opponent in 2014, but that could change in the future, especially on Florida’s schedule. The Gators haven’t scheduled an FCS team in 2015 and beyond, and it seems Florida is the first SEC school to do away with future FCS opponents.

Photo Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • Am I the only one who finds Nick Saban’s quote a little hard to believe?

    Richt makes the best case for playing the other schools, even though I’d rather see more competitive games all around.

    • Matt said “Am I the only one who finds Nick Saban’s quote a little hard to believe? Richt makes the best case for playing the other schools, even though I’d rather see more competitive games all around.”

      yea saban’s quote is hard to believe. its not hard for Alabama to get opponents. however, schools like Mississippi State do have a hard time. In the middle of the SEC, we have a hard time scheduling OOC opponents from big 5 conferences because of the “little to gain” theory. I mean that they feel like if they beat us, they should have. a top 3 BCS conf team should beat a middle of the road SEC team. If they lose, then the country says the SEC is just that damn good and all the other conferences hate that.

      Then when you go to the lower conferences, Sun Belt etc, it costs $1.25 million to get those games now. Mississippi State, OM, etc cant handle that in our budgets.

      Ex: Florida’s football budget is getting close to or may have already exceeded $100 million. Mississippi State’s entire athletic budget is still below $50 million and OM’s is right there too.

      so, it is hard for the “have nots” to make those schedules.

      hell, that’s the reason MSU scheduled 2 homes and 1 away with South Alabama to take down the cost. we have to go to freakin south Alabama this year. Granted that was a terrible decision made by our prior athletic director and likely should’ve been bought out by our current one but oh well. It is what it is.

      • ADs like to make bad decisions when they leave a school. Like the SC guy who went to A&M and now we have to play them as a permanent “rival.” Arkansas was far enough away that fans didn’t travel a lot back and forth; I think College Station will be worse.
        That’s good info about the budgets impacting the decisions for FCS opponents, though. Makes a lot of sense.

  • A well coached team with perhaps 60% starting seniors, is going to be hard to beat no matter what division they play in, or conference. All they have to do is show up knowing that this game represents their big bowl game of the year.