It’s easy to see how prevalent it is for major-college football programs to buy off their smaller brethren in order to get them to come in for what is typically an easy victory (though Michigan and mighty Appalachian State would surely tell you otherwise).
What’s even more interesting is just how prevalent it is among teams in the major conferences in the former Division I-AA to be playing at least one or two supposed big boys in a given season.
Earlier this week, it was shown here that it was easier to find the teams NOT playing a former I-AA than those who actually were. There were 81 of 120 schools playing at least one such game, with five playing a pair in the upcoming season.
But take a look at this: If you analyze the schedule of every team in a league represented in last year’s 16-team tournament in the former I-AA (excluding the Patriot League), 10 schools are not playing a major college (i.e. former I-A) team —- and half are in the MEAC. In contrast, 55 schools in the leagues will be lining their coffers with a supposed guarantee game.
That’s every team out of the CAA, which sent five teams to the postseason. That’s all nine teams from the Gateway, which sent two more. It’s everybody but Elon from the Southern Conference (home to Appalachian State). It’s everybody but Montana from the Big Sky.
It’s another illustration of how the 12th game has changed college football —- as if the extra money, the worries of coaches and players over extra injuries, and the call or change from various quarters offering beefier support for everything from pay-to-play to five years of eligibility for players.
It was mildly surprising that five major college schools will play two schools from a lower division. But how about the 18! members of the former I-AA playing multiple games against the big(ger) boys.
Here’s the last list, gleaned from combing through the schedules in Blue Ribbon (*-back-to-back)
Cal Poly: San Diego State, Wisconsin
Charleston Southern: Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio) [Nope, that isn’t a misprint]
Chattanooga: Oklahoma, Florida State
The Citadel: Clemson, Florida
Eastern Illinois*: Central Michigan, Illinois
Eastern Kentucky*: Cincinnati, Western Kentucky
Eastern Washington*: Texas Tech, Colorado
Idaho State*: Boise State, Idaho
Indiana State: Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois
Montana State*: Kansas State, Minnesota
Murray State: Indiana, Western Kentucky
Nicholls State: New Mexico State, Memphis
Northeastern: Ball State, Syracuse
South Carolina State: Central Florida, Clemson
Southeastern Louisiana: Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech
Tennessee-Martin: South Florida, Auburn
Tennessee Tech: Louisville, Western Michigan
Weber State: Hawaii, Utah