H-E-L-P! Is it 1-AA, FBS, FCS or LOL

Published: Thursday, Sept. 6 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

Kevin Richardson, a running back for App. St. (Formerly I-AA), tries to direct noise traffic at the Big House with a probably unneeded hushing gesture.

Duane Burleson, Associated Press

The Michigan football program can take some solace from getting smacked between the eyes by the state of Appalachia last Saturday.

Though being smitten down by the massive-underdog Mountaineers was quite humiliating, at least the Goliaths, er, Wolverines didn't lose to a I-AA team.

Not officially anyway.

Appalachian State, Weber State, Southern Utah and the other 119 teams that used to play in Div. I-AA now compete in what's known as (take a breath) the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Otherwise known more simply as: (Formerly I-AA).

Or the Football Championship Subdivision. Or the FCS. Or even The NCAA Football Division That Actually Has a Playoff and Crowns a Real Champion. You pick.

And the mighty Mountaineers, ranked No. 1 in the FCS FYI, can't boast about beating a so-called Div. I-A powerhouse — a fact that has nothing to do with how good (or lousy) Michigan's football program is this season.

That's because the 120 teams that used to be Div. I-A — such as Notre Dame, Florida, BYU, Utah, Louisiana-Lafayette and, yes, even Utah State — are now in the NCAA Div. I Football Bowl Subdivision.

Or the FBS, which, keep in mind, includes the BCS and was supposed to be superior to the FCS until ASU (not the one from the AZ) made Michigan look like it was MIA (not to be confused with MI-AA). So, did the AA really stand for Acronymics Anonymous? LOL. Don't worry. It might clear up by Y2KX or so.

"It'll take some time to get used to. It'll probably be accepted in three or four years from now," said Brad Larsen, the assistant athletic director for media relations at Weber State. "It's taken me a while."

So far, though, the change has created more confusion and sarcasm. Larsen understands that. Still, though he was fine with the Div. I-AA label, he much prefers FCS over being erroneously called Div. II (that's Dixie State's league), Small Colleges (hello, Westminster) or even Mid-Major, a derogatory label that he says "drives me crazy."


To confuse matters more, the Football Bowl Subdivision is technically subdivided even further. And for most members, the prize is playing in one of the 32 bowls, not playing for a national championship.

Half are with the FBS "haves" — the ones who belong to Bowl Championship Series conferences (ACC, Pac-10, Big East, SEC, Big 12 and the Big Ten+Notre Dame) and are automatically included in the national title equation.

The other half are with the "have nots " — the non-FBS-BCSers (MWC, WAC, Conference USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt, non-Golden-Domer independents) who apparently either have to be coached by Urban Meyer or play on blue turf to be invited to play in a Big Bowl but not the REALLY BIG ONE.

But let's leave the debate over the intricacies and injustices of the BCS system for another day and concentrate on the other pigskin perplexity du jour.

For some more confusing fun, consider that programs in the FCS, which has a 16-team playoff and no bowls, now all have a shot at winning an outright Division I football championship.

Which means in the Div. I world (minus the As, mind you), Appalachian State owns bragging rights over Michigan (for obvious reasons) and Florida (because the Gators won the BCS last season but were not officially crowned D-I champs). The FCS name change officially kicked off on Dec. 15, 2006, when App St. beat the University of Massachusetts in the inaugural D-I football championship game.

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