FBS lessons learned for the FCS spring season

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Alabama’s national championship win Monday night didn’t bring an end to one of the shorter college football seasons.

The first game of the FCS spring season is only one month away on Wednesday, so college football 2020 may eventually be embraced as the longest season ever.

As the spotlight turns to the lower tier of Division I – the one with the bigger and better playoff system – there are lessons to be learned for playing a contact sport during a pandemic.

Here are five lessons the FCS level learned from their FBS counterparts:

Mask up and more

Take as many necessary precautions as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Included: regular health screening and testing even while vaccinations roll out; social distancing and mask wearing when and wherever possible, including with coaches and staff on the sideline or at practices and meetings (go virtual); and reduced capacity within stadiums.

Not all games will be played

Patience, everyone. Games were canceled or postponed regularly during the FBS season, nearly 130 overall, according to Associated Press college football writer Ralph Russo. It got worse over the final two months of the season, including six bowls that were canceled from Dec. 15 and beyond. The good news: the sun never failed to rise the day after a scrapped game.

Competitive equity doesn’t exist

Accept schools will have different circumstances. When you look at the College Football Playoff on the FBS level, Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame entered with 11-game resumes while Ohio State (which had a later start to the season) came in with only a six-game resume. The Missouri Valley and Southern conferences have announced eight-game spring conference schedules; Patriot League teams are playing four league foes. Some programs will play two nonconference games, some only one, some none. And so on and so on.

Work together

Sure, everybody wants to be a step ahead of rival programs, but for nearly a year, schools and conferences have collaborated on ways to navigate difficult times. It must continue. During the season, schools should be open to reworking conference schedules to get in postponed games – something that happened on the FBS level.

Enjoy what you have

Playing in the spring isn’t ideal, but it beats not playing. In the Mid-American Conference, Miami of Ohio and Ohio surely weren’t happy to be limited to only three games each – fewer than half as some others in the conference. But try giving three games to Old Dominion, which didn’t have a season, and see how much they would have meant. Also, don’t even try to put an asterisk on the season – the conference, bowl and national champs are legit. A 16-game FCS playoff, although missing quality at-large qualifiers, is better than none.

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