Don't call it FCS (or I-AA)!

FCS football won't be the only brand of NCAA Division I football that has a playoff when the current BCS contracts run out after the 2013 season. FBS football (formerly I-A) will also have a playoff to determine it's champion, which makes the names FBS and FCS — which stand for "Football Bowl Subdivision" and "Football Championship Subdivision" — a little more nonsensical, since neither subdivision will decide it's champion in a traditional Bowl game.

So the NCAA is now considering changing the names of the two brands of Division I football, which were known simply as Division I-A and Division I-AA between 1979 (when Division I football split) and 2005. No decision has been reached on whether to change the names or what they would be changed to at this point.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

"The distinguishing factor had always been the playoffs," [CAA Commissioner Tom] Yeager said. He added consultants and brand experts retained by the NCAA are addressing the subject, "and there hasn't been any real consensus yet. . . . You might just make it Division I football. Everybody knows who's what."

FCS football might use the opportunity to re-brand and present a better national image of it's product, which despite being created as a more cost-effective option, has been a financial black-hole for substantially all of it's members.

"Quite frankly, our level of football continues to have an identity crisis," said Patty Viverito, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, according to the Associated Press

"To be honest, Football Championship Subdivision is a mouthful, and it doesn't make the case for our Division I stature really much better than the I-AA moniker did. We've tried to fix this for years. It's a dilemma."

Will a new name and some branding effort make the difference? You can take a Honda, distort the logo a bit and call it an Acura, but it's still a Honda, right? (Wait, people actually pay $20,000 more for the Accura...)

Will it help or hurt that branding attempt when the FCS playoffs expand to 24 teams to include the no-scholarship, low-budget, Pioneer League next season? If anyone watches the Pioneer champions get slaughtered by one of the top-seeded teams, it probably wouldn't, but perhaps that won't be an issue, since the majority of the FCS playoffs aren't even televised.

The only way to improve the stature of FCS schools is probably to eliminate the subdivisions altogether. If FCS schools want their Division I stature to be noticed, they should stop separating themselves from the rest of the division.


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