There has been much conversation about FBS teams scheduling FCS teams. As one of three programs not to schedule with the FCS, I have found a way for the UCLA football team to keep that integrity intact, as well as prepare for the season.
I am going to cover two issues that are hot topics in the college football community. The first topic is one that is sacred to the UCLA football team, while the second would affect every FBS team.
The topics in question; scheduling an FCS team and installing a college football preseason game.
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Let us discuss the latter first. Every offseason, there seems to be some discussion about the need to schedule preseason games in the college ranks. My perspective is that a preseason game will give teams a game-like situation without sacrificing anything a regular season game can offer.
If each team is allotted one preseason game, not only will they have a better handle on their game plan and philosophy, but younger players, especially freshmen, can get into a “game” without burning a redshirt (currently, a player can play in four games and keep a redshirt season).
This experience will also give teams a chance to scout future opponents. The drawback is that they would themselves get scouted. There will also be a few other drawbacks like the potential for injury and having one more game extend an already long season.
But other than that, a preseason game can help get teams in the right head space, especially for newbies on the roster who have never experienced such a massive event with television exposure.
This leads to my other point. UCLA is one of three teams that has never taken on an FCS football program, USC and Notre Dame being the other two. This is a point of pride with UCLA as it shows that the Bruins are always looking to play the best competition available, instead of scheduling a win column stuffing cupcake late in the season.
In the last week, news came out of USC that the Trojans are toying with the notion of scheduling an FCS school in the near future. Understandably, this set off a firestorm among the USC faithful. It does not make sense for a team with such a rich history to break from tradition, no matter how minor it is.
Like UCLA, USC is not winning any prizes by not scheduling an FCS team, but to have that as a point of pride is something these two schools, with Notre Dame, hold dear.
But preseason games can fix that. Follow me here.
If FBS teams were allowed a preseason game (which could ideally be molded into a glorified scrimmage rather than a full-on game), one or two weeks before the regular season begins, then schools like UCLA, USC, and Notre Dame can schedule lower tiered teams without it counting in the record books. This could also work like a nicotine patch for SEC teams that are trying to kick the habits of scheduling FCS teams and schedule tougher (FBS) teams.
On top of that, coaches can call the game after halftime or sub-in the second, third and fourth teams, similar to the practices in the NFL preseason. And if you look at it from the FCS team’s perspective, they can prep themselves for their season against better opponents.
So if the NCAA allows preseason games, the Bruins can play FCS programs and still keep their streak intact. I know this was a weird mesh of ideas, but it is certainly something to think about.