Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You've been tuning into some of your
favorite programs this month, expecting a season finale with a fun cliff-
The story line is supposed to be continued next season.
Only you realize there won't be another season. You got the message wrong, the
season finale was actually a series finale.
Good night and good-bye, thanks for tuning in.
Make no mistake, conference realignment is still the worst reality show going
these days, which is saying a lot when "Splash" has been an option.
There is no loyalty on this runaway train. An entire conference like the Big
East has imploded before our eyes on the major college level. Is it possible an
entire division - like the Football Championship Subdivision - will lose its
relevance because of conference realignment?
Ten FCS programs have or will depart the FCS for the Football Bowl Subdivision
within roughly a three-year period starting in 2011, with national powers
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern the most notable programs that will head
out the door next year.
And then there's the cannibalizing within the ranks, the latest being Elon
University's announcement on Thursday that it will depart the Southern
Conference for the Colonial Athletic Association in the 2014-15 school year.
You can't blame Elon, it's going to do what's best for itself. You can't blame,
the CAA, either, it wants to be as a strong as possible while it loses a
program and gains a program, loses a program and gains a program ...
But who says somebody has to be wrong before the individual schools and
conferences take responsibility for the greater whole?
There will be 126 schools playing in the FCS this year, so the division won't
be going away in the future. It's here to stay.
But who is really guarding against a watered-down product in that same future?
Yes, those were crickets chirping.
The CAA was supposed to be the FCS conference that would get picked to shreds
in these tumultuous, money-grabbing times - as much for basketball as football
- but it's been retooling and will get back to 12 members for football when
Elon arrives on July 1, 2014.
Instead, it's the once-great Southern Conference, which used to be the shining
example of FCS football, that is going to be a mere shell of itself next year
with the losses of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern - and their combined
nine national titles - and Elon (the College of Charleston, which is leaving
this year, doesn't have a football program, while Davidson, bound for the
Atlantic 10 next year, plays in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League).
If you want to look at possible instability within the other power conferences
in the FCS, consider that people are often pushing for the two-time defending
national champions at North Dakota State to make the move from the Missouri
Valley Football Championship up to the FBS.
And others out west want the Big Sky Conference to move everybody up and become
an entirely new FBS conference. That doesn't sound so crazy if the FCS keeps
tossing the football near end zones filled with quicksand.
It wasn't that long ago - January 2011 - when 134 stakeholders in the FCS,
including conference commissioners athletic directors, coaches, even NCAA
President Mark Emmert, came together in Frisco, Texas, for the first FCS
Summit, a terrific endeavor led by the Southland Conference and a chance for
member schools to come together and discuss major issues affecting the
The gathering was supposed to be the first step toward improving the FCS, with
a "to be continued" story line that would lead toward action in future years.
At the forefront of talks was conference realignment. You want action? While
everybody shared their concerns for the FCS, once an opportunity to move on
came to some of the attendees, well, so much for the greater good.
The NCAA can't really stop realignment because the schools have the authority
over conference configuration, and almost surely always will.
But FCS schools better start taking their future more seriously.
Sweeps Month? How about the FCS being swept from relevance if its schools
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