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Which of the FCS Top 20 Teams Are FBS Ready? (Part 2)

Wherein we find numerous schools that have probably been desired by the WAC or the Sun Belt at some point.

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We took a look at some elite FCS programs in Part 1 of our look at who might be ready for the FCS-to-FBS jump. In this article, we'll examine the back end of the FCS Top 20 as there are a lot of names who have been bandied about for FBS expansion in the past as well.

10. Northern Iowa Panthers

Five year Win/Loss: 38-24 (three FCS playoff appearances)

Revenue Generated: $16,966,524 (50% subsidized)

Stadium Size: UNI-Dome (16,324)

Five year attendance average: 12,881 (79% of capacity)

Recruiting pipelines: Iowa (53), Missouri (7), Minnesota (6), Florida (5), Wisconsin (5)

Media Markets: Waterloo-Cedar Falls MSA (163,706)

Proximity to FBS conferences: MAC (NIU)

FBS readiness grade: B-

The fanbase is already strong for an FCS program, and UNI has taken down or put a scare into a few FBS programs much like conference mates NDSU. But a small stadium, relatively low revenues, a highly local recruiting base in a relatively talent-sparse state, and a small media footprint limits the Panthers' potential.

Although UNI has flirted with an FBS move in the somewhat recent past, they ultimately decided against the move because of economics. Given the niche UNI has carved for itself in FCS, it may make sense to stay put unless a big donor starts flashing money around.

11. Montana State Bobcats

Five year Win/Loss: 45-18 (4 playoff appearances, 3 conference titles)

Revenue Generated: $18,787,426 (56% subsidized)

Stadium Size: Bobcat Stadium (20,767). Expandable, recently renovated.

Attendance average: 17,151 (82% capacity)

Recruiting pipelines: Montana (44), California (21), Texas (14)

Media Markets: Bozeman, MT metro (97,304) plus significant portions of Great Falls, Billings, and the eastern half of the state.

Proximity to FBS conferences: Sun Belt (Idaho), Mountain West (Wyoming)

FBS readiness grade: B-

They'd have to shift their recruiting focus further into California and Texas with a move up, but MSU is more attractive as a possible FBS addition now than it was back in 2012 when the WAC was teetering on the brink of gridiron oblivion. Of course, the Montana/Montana State move to the WAC never happened, partly because the WAC wasn't interested in taking on MSU along with the Grizzlies.

The Mountain West has little impetus to add the pair, so at this point the only chance for the Bobcats and the Grizzlies to go FBS is via the Sun Belt. If Karl Benson wants to throw a bone to Idaho and expand the 'Belt to 14 by adding the two Montana schools along with a school from the east, then that's a possibility. But the Sun Belt's increasing focus on the southeast end of the footprint and Idaho's tenuous position in the conference makes that move seem unlikely.

12. Montana Grizzlies

Five year Win/Loss: 42-21 (3 FCS Playoffs appearances, 1 conference title)

Revenue Generated: $20,609,017 (42% subsidized)

Stadium Size: Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217)

Attendance average: 24,744 (98% of capacity)

Recruiting pipelines: Montana (33), California (20), Washington (20), Oregon (10), Idaho (6)

Media Markets: Missoula, MT metro (112,684), plus most of the western third of the state

Proximity to FBS conferences: Sun Belt (Idaho), Mountain West (Wyoming)

FBS readiness grade: A

UM and MSU depend heavily on Montana and California for players, and Montana isn't going to produce enough overlooked FBS-worthy talent for both schools. However, the two schools' secondary recruiting grounds differ, as Montana focuses on the Pacific Northwest and MSU on Texas, so maybe there would be potential for both schools to make an FBS jump work. But as previously mentioned, it's unlikely the 'Belt will come calling for either school anytime soon.

13. James Madison Dukes

Five year Win/Loss: 36-24, 2 FCS Playoffs appearances

Revenue Generated: $43,767,486 (82% subsidized)

Stadium Size: Bridgeforth Stadium (24,877)

Attendance average: 21,042 (85% of capacity)

Recruiting pipelines: Virginia (60), Maryland (8), North Carolina (7), Pennsylvania (7), New Jersey (5)

Media Markets: Harrisonburg, VA MSA (126,562), Richmond, VA metro (1,260,029), Washington DC...?

Proximity to FBS conferences: C-USA (Old Dominion), Sun Belt (Appalachian State), AAC (ECU)

FBS readiness grade: A+

JMU has everything ready for a jump to FBS, and the school knows it. They've already publicly spurned the Sun Belt and wanted a Conference USA invite, but Charlotte took the 14th spot they were coveting. For now, they seem content to stay in FCS until the next destabilizing round of realignment hits C-USA and/or the AAC. That is unless they become dissatisfied enough with the CAA to reconsider the 'Belt.

14. Liberty Flames

Five year Win/Loss: 38-21, four conference titles (shared), one playoff appearance

Stadium Size: Williams Stadium (19,200)

Attendance average: 16,200 (84% of capacity)

Recruiting pipelines: Virginia (27), Florida (13), Texas (12), North Carolina (7), Georgia (6), Maryland (5)

Media Markets: Lynchburg metro (254,171), Roanoke metro (308,707)

Proximity to FBS conferences: Sun Belt (App State), C-USA (ODU), AAC (ECU), although the 'Belt is the only one that's realistically considered them.

FBS readiness grade: A-

They have everything the Sun Belt would seem to want. A competitive program, a strong national and local recruiting base, tons of money, media market potential, and proximity to App State. Yet despite all these positives and some public flirting, it appears that the 'Belt hasn't been buying what the Flames have to offer, with various sources citing vague complaints about Liberty's "low profile." Of course, that could be code for "we don't want anything to do with anything related to Jerry Falwell."

17. Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Five year Win/Loss: 36-23 (two FCS playoff appearances)

Revenue Generated: $13,033,265 (80% subsidized)

Stadium Size: Roy Kidd Stadium (20,000)

Attendance average: 7813 (39% of capacity)

Media Markets: Richmond, KY (32,550), Lexington-Fayette-Frankfort-Richmond, KY CSA (687,173)

Proximity to FBS conferences: Sun Belt and C-USA, but WKU presumably won't want EKU anywhere near the latter.

FBS readiness grade: C-

I included the Colonels out of respect for Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson's public mention of EKU. However, outside of a somewhat easy road trip to Boone (269 miles) and two Division 1-AA titles to their name, what's the appeal? The 'Belt doesn't need another member school with a half-full stadium in a relatively isolated location with low revenues that are mostly propped up by subsidies.

More than likely EKU were mentioned for a reason, but that reason could've been a trial balloon to see what public reaction would be like from SBC member schools. So far, that reaction seems to have been a solid "meh."

Who do you think the Sun Belt should go after, if anyone? Who else deserves consideration for an FBS spot? Leave a comment below.