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  • Writer's pictureRobert Briscoe

The Rise of the Idaho Vandals: A Beacon of Hope for FCS Football

In the world of college football, the spotlight often shines brightest on the juggernauts of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). However, thanks to a recent article I found by Joe Santoro of the Record-Courier. There's a compelling case to be made for why the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) should be cheering for the Idaho Vandals to continue their successful journey. Idaho's potential ascent to the heights of North Dakota State or South Dakota State, and perhaps even a shot at an NCAA National Championship, could be a game-changer for FCS football. Let us explore why Idaho's success matters and how it could inspire other schools to reconsider their place in college football.


1. A Wake-Up Call for Struggling FBS Schools


Idaho's rise to prominence in the FCS could serve as a wake-up call for many FBS schools languishing in the mid to lower tiers for years. These schools often find themselves caught in a never-ending cycle of mediocrity, with little hope of breaking into the upper echelons of college football, or as Santoro called it, “selling a big lie.”


If Idaho demonstrates that transitioning to the FCS can lead to success and national recognition, it may encourage FBS programs to reassess their priorities. They might start to realize that the allure of FBS football isn't always worth the financial strain and competitive struggles it entails. Success for Idaho could prompt these schools to consider a more sustainable path in the FCS, where they can compete at a high level and provide their student-athletes with a better overall experience.


2. Encouraging Former FCS Powers to Rejoin


In recent years, several former FCS powerhouses like Georgia Southern, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Connecticut, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and Western Kentucky have made the leap to the FBS. While these moves have brought some benefits, they've also come with their share of challenges and disappointments.


If Idaho can establish itself as a force in the FCS, these former FCS powers might reconsider their decisions. They could look back at their time in the FCS with fondness and nostalgia, recognizing that the grass isn't always greener on the FBS side. Rejoining the FCS could offer these schools a chance to rekindle the success they once enjoyed, a true playoff system and provide a more sustainable and fulfilling football experience for their communities.


Imagine the Big Sky Conference with Nevada, the WAC with UTEP, and the ASUN with Western Kentucky.


3. Attracting New FCS Contenders


It's not just former FCS schools that could benefit from Idaho's success. There are also several teams that have never been part of the FCS but could be fantastic additions. The entire Mid-American Conference, along with schools like New Mexico, New Mexico State, UTEP, and the three service academies (Army, Navy, and Air Force), could find a new home in the FCS.


Imagine the excitement of matchups like Army versus Harvard, Navy versus The Citadel, or Air Force taking on a traditional FCS powerhouse. These games would not only be thrilling for fans but also provide an opportunity for these institutions to compete at a high level of college football without the overwhelming demands and expenses of the FBS.


Imagine the MAC coming to the FCS and adding SIU & Youngstown State.


4. The Catalyst for Change


Idaho's success in the FCS could serve as a catalyst for more schools to consider a move down to the FCS seriously. The prospect of winning national championships, true playoffs and maintaining recognition may become more appealing than the relentless pursuit of FBS glory and the dollars spent with it.


As Joe Santoro's article points out, the landscape of college football has been evolving rapidly, with TV money, Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals, and the Transfer Portal changing the game's dynamics. These factors are further widening the gap between the haves and have-nots in the FBS, making it increasingly challenging for schools in the lower tiers to compete.


Conclusion


In a college football world dominated by a select few in the FBS, it's crucial to recognize the potential of the FCS and the importance of schools like Idaho in shaping its future. Idaho's success could inspire struggling FBS schools to make a strategic move to the FCS, encourage former FCS powerhouses to return to their roots, and entice new contenders to join the FCS ranks.


Let's be frank: the FCS does not need saving. Idaho is not a savior. What the Vandals are is an usher. They can usher in the next generation of the FCS.

"Preferably Private" - Vandals Quarterback Gevani Mccoy | PC: @gevanimccoy (IG)


As the landscape of college football continues to shift, Idaho winning at a high level could be the beacon of hope that reminds schools and fans alike of the excitement and competitiveness the FCS offers. So, if you're a college football enthusiast looking for a second favorite team in the FCS, make it the Idaho Vandals – they may just be the catalyst for positive change in the Football Championship Subdivision.


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