FCS football is fun and features plenty of talent. Games against FBS opponents can serve purposes, as they are oftentimes displays of in-state support and, of course, are big paydays that FCS programs need to survive.
But some games just make no sense. They are over before they start, and they do little but fill out schedules and act as glorified byes for bigger programs – often coming immediately before or after a big rivalry game for the bigger program.
These games are shameful. And this is the list of the most shameful games of the 2017 college football season. Take cover, SEC fans, as five of your schools make this list.
T-10. Charleston Southern at Mississippi State, Sept. 2
T-10. UMass at Mississippi State, Nov. 4
Neither of these opponents is strong, as Charleston Southern is an FCS team and UMass was an FCS team just six years ago. You can maybe get away with one of these two teams on your schedule, but both? C’mon, Bulldogs. You’re better than this.
9. Indiana State at Tennessee, Sept. 9
We’ll preface this by saying that Tennessee opens against Georgia Tech on Labor Day night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and that, even in defeat, the triple-option has wreaked enough havoc on opponents to have a carryover effect to the next game. In this case, the Volunteers’’ next game is only five days away, too. But Indiana State? The Sycamores went 4-7 last season, finishing tied for last in the Missouri Valley Conference. And they are in Year 1 of a new regime in 2017 under new head coach Curt Mallory.
8. Towson at Maryland, Sept. 9
Towson is an FCS school, making this a direct violation of Big Ten scheduling policy that took effect in 2016. It also was a not-very-good FCS school, going just 4-7 last year. Sure, the Terrapins might need a reprieve after a challenging opener at Texas, but they also get a bye after this game… which we suppose makes that two consecutive byes in the season’s first month.
7. Florida A&M at Arkansas, Aug. 31
It’s a Thursday night home opener for the Razorbacks, and it can’t get any easier, as they host a Florida A&M team that went 4-7 last season and lost to the only FBS opponent it faced, Miami, 70-3 in last year’s opener.
6. Jackson State at TCU, Sept. 2
This isn’t Jacksonville State, which has consistently proven itself to be among the FCS’ top programs, and which nearly won at Auburn in 2015. No, this is Jackson State, which went 3-8 last season, and just 3-6 in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play. Do better, Horned Frogs. (Coincidentally, TCU travels to the aforementioned, well-rested Razorbacks the following week.)
5. Liberty at Baylor, Sept. 2
Ex-Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw returns to Waco with his new school, which is transitioning to the FBS. Thank him for this game.
4. Morgan State at Rutgers, Sept. 16
This is another direct violation of the Big Ten’s no-FCS scheduling policy. Rutgers, which moved over from the AAC in 2014, will comply with the scheduling philosophy beginning in ‘18. Morgan State, by the way, went just 3-8 last season and tied for seventh-place in the MEAC under interim head coach Fred Farrier. Against FBS teams Army and Marshall last year, Morgan State lost by a combined score of 122-3.
3. Mercer at Auburn, Sept. 16
Mercer reinstated its football program in 2013. Auburn was in the national title game in 2013. The Tigers should not be playing the Bears.
2. Mercer at Alabama, Nov. 18
Neither should Alabama, although it’s cute that both the Tide and their rivals from Auburn have decided on the same FCS team to kick around this season. (Alabama actually played Mercer twice before, winning 20-0 in both 1939 and ‘40, so perhaps Mercer is playing with revenge on the mind here.)
1. Delaware State at Florida State, Nov. 18
The Hornets went 0-11 last season, which was only slightly worse than their 1-10 performance in 2015, or their 2-10 performance in ‘14. The Seminoles, meanwhile, will likely be a preseason top-five team. Shameful, indeed.
— Written by Matt Fortuna, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and spent six seasons covering college football for ESPN.com. Fortuna’s work has been honored by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) seven times. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Fortuna and like his Facebook page.