The Football Championship Subdivision normally plays 11 games in a season, but once every blue moon, a calendar shift allows an extra week between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and the FCS schools who want it can squeeze in an extra game. There were two recent seasons where this happened, and 12-games is a magic number that has been in place for the FBS conferences for a long time now.
Now, two FCS leagues are sending a proposal to the NCAA to make that extra week permanent. The Ohio Valley and Southland conferences are the sponsors of the rule-change that will meet a mixed reception in FCS audiences.
Even when the schedule expands, some schools have held steady at 11 games and used the week as a bye. Villanova did that recently -- choosing 11 games in 2013 and ending the season out of the playoffs despite a strong finish that saw them wind up 4th in the CAA. The 'Cats changed their position in 2014, adding Morgan State to the schedule for a 12th game and ultimately losing in the playoffs after John Robertson sat out with a concussion.
William & Mary also preferred 11 games until taking advantage of the intermittent 12th-week in 2013 and 2014, in an effort to boost their playoffs chances. Other CAA schools have had differing responses to the occasional opportunities for an extra game. Maine, for example, has embraced it and used those seasons to schedule a second FBS opponent that can offer a good cash payout.
The reaction in other leagues is also likely to be mixed. Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell seemed unimpressed this week -- coming from a smaller conference (Big South), the 11-game schedule is already a struggle for his program to fill out.
If the schedule isn't expanded by rule change, there will still be a few more 12-game seasons in the future for FCS programs. There is an extra weekend on the calendar for 2019, 2024, 2025 and 2030, over the next decade-and-a-half. If the proposal were to succeed, FCS teams would be allowed to schedule an initial game on the weekend before labor day going forward.
Playing 12 games sounds good and wouldn't be too much of a stretch for the "bigger" FCS leagues. In a worst-case scenario, a 12-team conference like the CAA could always fill its member's slates with an extra conference game.
However, there are real costs of travel, scheduling and logistics (players would have to arrive a week earlier on campus for training) that will concern some FCS members. Especially with big-money FBS guarantee games looking harder and harder to find as a result of Power-5 rules changes to prevent them from being scheduled.