Sep 10 / jmusport

Guest Post: FCS is Fine By Me

LQHOFXTAKTLOTFA-1.20130405195602Andrew came closest to predicting the final score for last week’s game. As a result, he won the chance to guest post. Here’s his take on why JMU should stay put in the FCS

Hey guys, I’ll preface this the way I did last time I did this: I’m not a sportswriter, so I’ll probably have a few typos and word flow probably isn’t going to be good in some places. Expect a lot of run on sentences. Also,  before I start with today’s topic, I just want to start off with a few points:

  1. Thanks to Rob and Todd for letting me once again guest post on this blog. I predicted 59-7, and half of the fourth quarter I was rooting on the Dukes just to get a field goal     just meet my prediction.
  2. You may remember me from the guest post after last year’s Lehigh game, which makes this post come at such a great time. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest it,     as some parts are still somewhat relevant now.
  3. I want to give a shout out to the ~7k students at the game last week. Y’all were great, especially the drunk kid behind me yelling “Fuck Morehead” multiple times every play. I     also liked the part when we stayed in our seats for most of the blowout, we should do it     again. It was probably the best atmosphere in any stadium I’ve ever been to. The     student section has real potential this year.
  4. Shameless plug to /r/CFB and /r/FCS, you guys should vote in our poll, everyone is welcome. It usually stays up from Sunday to Wednesday. I regularly post in those two     places and my name is /u/grizzlywalker, so if you see me, say hi.

Ok, now to the fun part: More realignment talk, and I know, it’s not the offseason anymore so we shouldn’t talk about it, but this time might be a little different, as I’m going to make the claim no one wants to hear: We should stay in the CAA, and I’ll talk from a fan aspect only. I’ll break this into sections.

Competition: Let’s specifically look at the Sunbelt, as a lot of people were upset that Coastal Carolina recently took our spot in the Sunbelt. First of all, a lot of teams  in the CAA could very well compete with and win against a good portion of Sunbelt teams. I don’t think that the Sunbelt would be a very big step up competition wise, and that the quality and the strength of our schedule this year is probably on par with Georgia State‘s, Southern‘s or App State. Let’s look at the other two conferences we could go to: The Mac and C-USA. We would probably be like ODU and be fairly average in conference play, at least for the first few years, even after being a national power in the FCS. Even then, the only end goal is a conference championship and/or a spot in a crappy bowl game sponsored by some company no one has ever heard of, and we’ll go years upon years before ever thinking of being ranked. Here in the CAA, we are a recruiting power because we have top notch facilities, compete for a conference championship every year (assuming we stay on the path we are now), compete for national championships (a chance we’ll have to kiss goodbye in the FBS), and we can schedule some household names with the game still being competitive (Liberty, NDSU, Montana, Youngstown State, etc). I do think we have to work on the latter a bit more, but I believe the Withers staff will try harder than Mickey’s did.

Travel: Face it, the only conferences in the FBS we can go to that have multiple schools within driving distance are the MAC and the ACC, and I’m fairly confident that the ACC doesn’t want us. Before I  came to JMU, I lived in Hampton Roads. My brother and Dad both went to ODU, so when they restarted their football team, naturally, we went to all their games. Home and Away. That is the great thing about this conference, every school on your schedule is within driving distance (unless you’re unfortunate enough to have a game scheduled at New Hampshire, Maine, URI, and maybe Albany), some will be a day trip though. Back when ODU announced their move, and even now, every ODU fan I know vocally wanted to stay right where we are now: in the CAA. The closest away game from ODU (and eventually us, let’s face it that’s where JMU wants to go) would be at Marshall/Charlotte (Same distance for us, not them). From Harrisonburg, that’s approximately a 4 hour 30 minute ride. There are six CAA schools closer to JMU than that (Bill & Mary, Delaware, Richmond, Towson, Elon, and Villanova). That’s six conference games the average fan can go to. That means that there are ideally four more Saturday’s you could spend in an actual football stadium watching your team and tailgating. Who doesn’t love that? But apparently people want to give it up for away conference games in the middle of Texas and Florida, schools which we have no connection to. And for what, more money for the Athletic Department? Which leads me to my next point.

Finances: This is where I prefaced this saying that I will only be looking at this situation from a fan perspective. As fans, we shouldn’t really care too much about school budgeting, because that’s the school’s problem. But I will try to make it relatable. And forgive me, I’m not an accounting major, so I might be wrong on some stuff. According to the NCAA, JMU is ranked 63rd among all Division 1 schools in our athletic revenue. That means we rack in more money than half of the FBS, all of the FCS, and all other non football schools. Notable schools we are ahead of: Old Dominion (64), UMass (71), Charlotte (83), Georgia State (96), South Alabama (114), Appalachian State (126), Georgia Southern (129). All of these schools just recently made the big move. What does this say? It means we’re doing real good for where we are now, and moving up probably won’t make that much of a difference except for maybe a slight tuition decrease. This guy talks about it better than I can.

Exposure: Sure we’ll get more TV games if we join a FBS conference, maybe even that midweek MACtion, but if JMU’s media department can get it together, than MadiZONE shouldn’t be a bad alternative to watching the games. Also, thanks Virginia Tech, a lot of the country knows who JMU is, so it’s shouldn’t really be about name recognition either.

Lastly, an Alternative: The CAA has many teams that, as I said earlier, can contend with FBS schools. In my mind, an ideal situation that can occur is the G5 and FCS merge (creating the new and Improved Division I-AA) and the P5 conferences can do their own thing and mainly play each other rather than picking on the little guys for the next 5 years straight. And it makes sense. There is a bigger and bigger divide forming between the P5 and G5 conferences, and it seems as though the gaps between the G5 and the FCS are getting smaller; the only real difference is scholarships. It would also be a big plus for Idaho and New Mexico State, who could join the Big Sky rather than stay in the Sunbelt.

Take it from a fan who experienced the FBS move first hand, it is not nearly as fun as a lot of people think it is, and eventually you’ll want to go back. We’re probably not going to be the next Boise State, so let’s just sit back and enjoy our FBS stadium and fan support, while at the same time being a national power and the having opportunity to go to away games this year.
If you made it this far, congratulations. Now I should go back to studying Anatomy.


leave a comment
  1. zac / Sep 10 2015


    Seriously though, great post.

  2. OuterBanksDuke83 / Sep 10 2015

    Very well done. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Frank-the-Tank / Sep 10 2015

    Since we know the AD is monitoring EVERYTHING – I just want to make sure that he doesn’t read this and rest on his laurels because everyone likes your post. Despite enjoying the read and respecting your opinion, I disagree and believe that a MAC, CUSA, or Sunbelt schedule would be far greater than any current and future CAA/FCA schedule. Plus, despite what we spend on Athletics/Football as a non-FBS school, as the Carr report showed, going FBS to either of the three conferences improves our financial situation with lessening the dependence on student fees. FCS in my opinion will become more and more expensive to maintain and I do not see us significantly growing our donation levels\endowment staying in the CAA/FCS.

  4. Tidewater Duke / Sep 10 2015

    While I still would love to see the move to FBS there are some great points in this article, especially the alternative. I said back in 2012 that JMU, ODU, GA. Southern, App. State, Charlotte, GA State, Delaware, and Villanova and Costal Carolina should have formed their own conference, maybe with Eastern Kentucky. You would have had a tight geographic conference, and would not have had to break up old rivals. Guess that was too hard to do as I know absolutely nothing about the ins and out of conference realignment, or how you go about forming a conference. I am pretty sure about this, however, I think JMU’s chance at going FBS for the foreseeable future has been eliminated due to the protracted “monitoring” of the situation. My first question to Bourne would be “why did we pay that consultant all that money to tell us we were well situated to move up and then not pursue it, Jeff?” There was an article in the Virginian Pilot over the summer about how ODU’s brand had been enhanced and how their applications had a marked increase after moving up, allowing them to be more selective in their admissions process, thus attracting a better quality student and helping to dismiss the thought that they were a commuter school. Is it absolutely imperative for JMU to move up? No, but what will happen is that we will have a coaching carousel each year, and this job will always be a stepping stone. If Withers goes deep into the playoffs, or hopefully wins a championship and a FBS school comes calling, don’t get caught in the prop wash as he bolts out the door.

  5. Tidewater Duke / Sep 10 2015

    insert after the sentence “I know nothing…………or go about forming a conference,” which puts me on a par with Jeff Bourne.

  6. Chris / Sep 10 2015

    Good post.

  7. Andrew / Sep 10 2015

    Hey guys, OP here! Thanks for all the great feedback. Just remember to click on the hyperlinked text too. I tried to make it so you don’t have to fact check me on anything, and it took a long time to do. And Frank-the-Tank, you very well may be right, financial stuff isn’t my strong suit.

  8. Tim / Sep 10 2015
  9. Mike / Sep 10 2015

    We are no longer a small time institution and should be playing with our peers. Playing Elon, Morehead State, St. Francis, and most of the CAA are not our peers. JMU’s national branding has a long way to go and moving to FBS will help. We have alumni beyond the Virginia border. JMU will remain in the shadows of other institutions if we remain status quo. We need to stop thinking small time.

  10. Michael / Sep 10 2015

    Time to make a move

  11. Mike in Ohio / Sep 10 2015

    Enjoyed reading the post. While I have never minded staying at the FCS level, I think staying in tge current CAA does not add to much Interest for either the mens Football or basketball programs. When VCU, Mason and ODU left, the quality of the basketball went way down and long standing rivalries went away. And while Stony Brook, Albany and Elon are fine schools, I just don’t get very interested in us playing them. Maybe would if they were undefeated and ranked number one but they aren’t. I come in from Ohio for 2 to 3 football games each year so the opponent has to have a little interest to me to attend. I don’t really see much alternative FCS league choices so I think we are stuck with the CAA. I think we could have competed fine at the Sun Belt level but that option now seems out due to our monitoring pose. Again, enjoyed reading your opinions.

  12. M@ / Sep 10 2015

    I am biased; I agree with you (and I’ve made most though not all of the same arguments you did). But I do have a question: Who’s anatomy are you studying?

  13. Andrew / Sep 10 2015

    M@, it’s just the general class BIO 290, no one in particular, just a few cadavars

  14. Shrowder / Sep 10 2015

    I agree with Mike in Ohio: I’m perfectly fine staying in the FCS, but the CAA has gotten much weaker in recent years. Particularly with MBB, the CAA champion is now looking at a 15 or 16 seed instead of an 11 or 12 seed in the NCAA tournament. It is one of the worst conferences in country, and us being a part of it will undoubtedly hurt our recruiting efforts. I know football rules everything, but a change in conference could really benefit other sports too.

    I don’t really know what conference I would like to see JMU join, but the CAA certainly feels like a dead end at this point.

    Great post, though OP. Well thought out.

  15. Jay D / Sep 10 2015

    We need to move up now. That is why I joined the new group mentioned earlier. If we don’t move up we will lose out in the recruiting war. Most recruits mention JMU moving up is why they came. If we move up it may actually force VT and UVA to play us again. I agree that if we spent all that money for a report then we should act on it. Time has come that Bourne needs to wake up or leave. He is getting in the way. FBS will make us more money and we would have teams coming in as Wither’s says that will get us excited. Our competition this year is weak.

  16. Ryan in North Carolina / Sep 11 2015

    Everyone complaining about the lack of competition in the CAA… but yet we’ve continually hovered around .500 for the last 5+ years.

    You know what’s going to rally this JMU fanbase? Winning.

  17. M@ / Sep 11 2015

    Andrew…sorry to hear that.

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