Last Modified: Thursday, May 29, 2014 5:38 PMMcNeese State and its fellow Football Championship Subdivision schools will continue to get paid for play by its bigger brothers in the Southeastern Conference — at least by some of those schools, for the time being.
A major point of debate during this week’s SEC spring meetings is whether conference schools should continue scheduling FCS programs.
Florida coach Will Muschamp — whose Gators lost to an FCS opponent last season — and Alabama coach Nick Saban plan on discontinuing the practice in future years in hopes of improving their résumés for the new college football playoff.
But other coaches, including Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Georgia’s Mark Richt, spoke in favor of keeping FCS games on the schedule.
“I think me, coming up through the route of smaller school ball to this point, I know the value it adds to those programs,” Freeze said to the media assembled at the meetings in Destin, Fla. “I just find it hard to believe that one game like that, out of the schedule that we play in this league and agreeing to play another BCS conference opponent, that that one game over the totality of the season would really hinder you if you perform well in those other games.”
Richt said the economic boost provided to the smaller schools improves college football as a whole.
“If BCS schools don’t have those games with FCS schools, a lot of them have a difficult time making their budgets,” he 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.”
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has no plans on mandating that the practice come to an end.
“We have no probation against it, that’s an institutional decision,” Slive told an Alabama newspaper. “I’m in favor of making sure that our strength of schedule is as good as it can be. … We don’t have any plans to tell them (to stop scheduling against FCS teams).”
McNeese head coach Matt Viator said he and Athletic Director Bruce Hemphill always keep an eye on developments at the higher level, where the practice of scheduling FCS schools is becoming more scrutinized.
“We have continued to monitor what they are doing, because everything originates with the big five and seems to trickle down to schools our size,” Viator said. “They’re certainly at the front of policy-making. Bruce and I always try to see what’s going on. You’re kind of at the mercy of what they decide.”
McNeese is scheduled to open the 2015 season at LSU, marking the second time the Cowboys are set to face an Southeastern Conference opponent. They visited the Tigers in 2010, the same season they faced then-Big 12 member Missouri, now a member of the SEC.
The terms of the 2015 game are yet to be disclosed, but McNeese received a $400,000 paycheck from LSU for the first meeting.
“Obviously they are important for us financially,” Viator said. “With the SEC, the proximity and notoriety makes it (significant) any time you have to play an SEC team. We’re certainly excited to keep that game, for sure.”