College football is ever in flux, whether that be with conference alignment or playoff formatting. The FBS will be adopting a revamped postseason format in 2024, much to the joy of fans everywhere. It isn’t just the upper level of the sport, however, that could soon see a face lift to the way it does things in the playoffs. Such changes may also be on the horizon for the FCS.
The NCAA FCS Playoff Committee... a group consisting of one representative from each FCS conference... will get together on May 18 to examine the future of the subdivision’s playoff format.
Currently the FCS uses a 24-team playoff bracket in which the top eight teams receive first round byes. Those eight seeded teams are also guaranteed at least one home playoff game. This template, which has been in place since 2013, may be at its sunset, though, as the committee as already expressed interest in adding more national seeds.
Eastern Kentucky Athletic Director and committee member Matt Roan told HERO Sports earlier this year, “As a committee, based on us representing the interests of our leagues and of people who care about FCS football, we think that 24 is the right number for us. But one of the things that we are exploring is rather than just seeding the top eight, is there a way to seed more?”
Seeding more teams in the tournament could be implemented as soon as the upcoming season according to reports. If that happens, though, what would it actually mean for future playoff brackets?
One thing that would for sure change is the regionalization of the tournament. Currently teams within a close proximity are usually paired together to cut down on travel costs if possible with host institutions being determined by a bidding system. This, of course, results in the more prominent programs almost always playing at home for the first round.
Adding more seeds would eliminate this along with the controversy that goes with it and there has plenty of that recently. Last season the playoff committee caused quite a stir when it awarded Weber State hosting rights to a first round game even though their opponent, North Dakota, placed a higher bid. Doing away with this sort of mess is certainly something that’s appealing to many.
There are, of course, more things than just regionalization that must be looked at when facing this issue, though. When the Playoff Committee convenes next week it will examine the financial feasibility of adding more seeds in terms of cost related to travel as well as other expenses. It is important to note that, as odd as it may sound, nearly all FCS programs actually end up losing money during the playoffs. Putting on games is not cheap and most of these schools do not have the infinitely deep pocket books of their FBS counterparts.
The NCAA, however, is on the verge of a new television deal that would likely bring in more revenue that the organization currently has with ESPN. The new deal would start in 2024 and it is something Roan believes will benefit the FCS and its push to update the current postseason format.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds. Let’s see if we can maximize that brand of FCS football and continue to grow the game and what it means for the fans,” he said.