You wonder how many of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision conferences have to punt the fall season before the Southland Conference has little choice but to follow the herd.

It sounds like McNeese and the SLC currently are like most of the schools a notch up the food chain in the Football Bowl Subdivision — still holding out hope that this pandemic will loosen its grip and let there be football, in the fall, like the gridiron gods always intended.

It may be wishful thinking for all of them, but at least the bigger schools can afford to wait a little longer, can even amend their schedules and/or push back the start of their seasons to buy more time and hope everybody starts wearing masks in public.

They don't know — and probably won't know for a while —how many, if any, fans will be allowed in their stadiums.

But they can at least salvage that big TV money.

And, think about it. Theoretically the TV ratings should be through the roof. Assuming stadiums are empty or near-empty, not only will those missing fans be parked on the couch watching the game they're missing in person, they (and all the fans from other games) will be watching the games they'd otherwise miss while tailgating before or coming home after the games.

They should negotiate more TV money for this season.

McNeese and the Southland may not have that luxury. They may need a Plan C.

Meanwhile, the FCS seems to be disintegrating around them.

Five of the 13 FCS conferences have already said they won't play in the fall. The Ivy League likely won't play at all; probably got some studying to do.

Only the SWAC has announced a plan to play in the spring. The MEAC is keeping its options open.

The Ivy League was no big deal. Its schools don't participate in the FCS playoffs anyway.

The MEAC and SWAC also don't have automatic bids to the FCS playoffs. But it was noteworthy when the Patriot and Colonial conferences said no to fall football. The Patriot canceled and The Colonial is keeping its options open, telling members they may make their own schedules this fall if they please.

Maybe they should just be patient. Just wait on the rest of the FCS to join them for a spring season.

Yes, spring football that actually means something.

It almost seems like a no-brainer in this "new normal" we're trudging through. Who knows? They might even find out it makes sense when the "old normal" returns.

Most of the FCS doesn't have the big TV contracts. Those schools rely far more on tickets sales to fund their programs.

But what they really rely on — not just for football, but to fund the entire athletic department — are the "money" games that the bigger schools can pay them in return for the dreaded rent-a-wins.

Actually, that never has been a good business model. Really? Playing football games you have a one-in-a-thousand shot that your football apples will upset their football oranges just so the soccer team can go to the Bahamas for a tournament?

And make no mistake. Those games, so vital to budgets in the FCS, will be the first games to get canceled when the FBS schools are forced to rearrange their schedules. Some already have been.

The FCS schools will have to make up that money somewhere.

There are obvious roadblocks, but a spring schedule could be done.

It would mean starting, say, Jan. 30 and getting in 10 games (with an open date somewheres) by April 10. The five-week FCS playoffs would crown you a national champion by May 15.

Yes, it can get cold even in McNeese's Cowboy Stadium in January-February and — just a guess here — probably gets even colder at a couple of traditional FCS powers like Montana and Eastern Washington (perennial FCS champion North Dakota State has the good sense to play in a heated dome).

It can also get hot in May.

Well, guess what? It's hot in September and cold in December for fall schedules, too.

But playing in the winter/spring the FCS might just learn it can pick up more spare change from local and network TV.

Perhaps not a lot, but it couldn't be any less than it is now. And surely, without a doubt, it would greatly help boost attendance, i.e., ticket sales.

For instance, McNeese's biggest current problem filling seats in the fall isn't the product or even the (lack of) interest. It is that it's competing against that 11 a.m.-midnight, channel-by-channel lineup of televised games.

Shoot, if they could just get the tailgating fans in the parking lot to quit watching the LSU game on TV and come into the stadium, it would be a noticeable influx.

Desperate times call for desperate actions.

But the FCS might even learn that the spring is the best option for the new normal, the old normal and the future normal.

Maybe not. That remains to be seen. It would certainly take some getting used to.

But it sure sounds like the best option for these nutty times.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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You wonder how many of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision conferences have to punt the fall season before the Southland Conference has little choice but to follow the herd.