(Stat Perform) – The two newest FCS conferences announced Tuesday they have combined on a scheduling alliance for the fall 2021 season, which could allow the ASUN and Western Athletic conferences to receive an automatic qualifying playoff bid for its champion.
Separately, neither conference would have the NCAA postseason minimum of six eligible teams to receive an automatic qualifier, but they do by combining incoming ASUN members Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State and incoming WAC members Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin.
The alliance, called the AQ7 and featuring traditionally strong programs, will compete under conference standings named the WAC-ASUN Challenge. ASUN commissioner Ted Gumbart said the alliance has applied to the NCAA for a playoff bid.
“This partnership provides teams in both leagues a path to an automatic bid and elevates the ASUN and WAC to a new level of competition,” he said.
WAC members Dixie State and Tarleton also will compete against AQ7 opponents in the joint schedule, but they won’t be eligible for the potential playoff AQ in what will be their second year of NCAA reclassification to Division I. Southern Utah, a Big Sky associate football member, will join the WAC’s football rebirth in 2022.
Kennesaw State and North Alabama, two of the five charter members of ASUN football, will play a final season this fall as associate members of the Big South, which has a partnership with the ASUN. In 2022, the two conferences will create the ASUN-Big South Challenge series, head-to-head matchups between its members over the final weekend of the FCS regular season.
All of the FCS conferences that are losing members to the ASUN and WAC – the Big Sky, Big South, Ohio Valley and Southland – will continue to meet eligibility for a playoff AQ.
2021 WAC-ASUN Challenge Schedule
Sam Houston at Central Arkansas
Abilene Christian at Lamar
Central Arkansas at Abilene Christian
*Tarleton at Eastern Kentucky
Sam Houston at Stephen F. Austin
Abilene Christian at Eastern Kentucky
Stephen F. Austin at Jacksonville State
Lamar at Sam Houston
Lamar at Abilene Christian
Eastern Kentucky at Central Arkansas
*Tarleton at Dixie State
Central Arkansas at Lamar
*Stephen F. Austin at Dixie State
Jacksonville State at Sam Houston
Abilene Christian at Stephen F. Austin
Central Arkansas at Jacksonville State
Lamar at Eastern Kentucky
*Sam Houston at Tarleton
Abilene Christian at Jacksonville State
Dixie State at Sam Houston
Eastern Kentucky at Stephen F. Austin
*Lamar at Tarleton
*Tarleton at Abilene Christian
Stephen F. Austin at Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky at Sam Houston
Jacksonville State at Lamar
Sam Houston at Abilene Christian
*Central Arkansas at Tarleton
Jacksonville State at Eastern Kentucky
Stephen F. Austin at Lamar
*-Games involving Dixie State and Tarleton will not count toward alliance win percentage