Ravell Call, Deseret News
Utah players stop Weber State running back Treshawn Garrett during game in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018.

Well, that was fun: Utah 41, Weber State 10.

Who saw that coming?

Or this:

No. 18 Mississippi State 63, Stephen F. Austin 6

Or this:

No. 3 Georgia 45, Austin Peay 0

Florida 53, Charleston Southern 6

Air Force 38, Stony Brook 0

Or this:

Texas A&M 59, Northwestern State 7

Missouri 51, Tennessee-Martin 14

No. 16 TCU 55, Southern U 7

Clemson 48, Furman 7

Georgia Tech, 41, Alcorn State 0

At least once each season, the big FBS schools tee up small, undermanned FCS schools for an easy W.

You know the arrangement: Little schools serve as punching bags for big schools, on the latter’s home turf, for a big payday; the big schools play the little schools to crack their knuckles and (maybe) break a sweat. These games are an accepted part of the weird world of college football. Almost every team participates in this nonsense.

The rationale for the big schools: Because they play eight or nine conference opponents, and because conference games are their priority, they schedule an automatic win among their three or four non-conference opponents to A) avoid injuries; B) take a breather; C) pad their record; D) avoid a loss that would cost them in the national rankings.

This practice has been going on for years, even though it’s completely inane. It’s not a fair fight.

FCS schools play by different rules — fewer scholarships, fewer players, smaller budgets, inferior talent, rosters composed of players passed over by the big schools. They’re limited to 63 scholarships (Ivy League schools have zero scholarships), compared to 85 full rides for FBS schools. How big is that gap? Weber State was ranked eighth in the nation among FCS schools heading into the season and gave up 41 straight points to Utah.

FBS schools are bigger, stronger, faster, yet the outcome of a game against an FCS school counts on the won-loss record.

It’s not a soccer friendly. It’s not an NFL exhibition game. It’s not a scrimmage. It can even count toward bowl eligibility.

Would the Yankees play the Salt Lake Bees and count the W in the major league standings?

The FBS versus FCS games produce mostly embarrassing results — No. 19 Oklahoma State 84, Savannah State 0 (2012); No. 13 Georgia 66, Troy 0 (2014); Cal 73, Grambling 14 (2015). For their bruises, the losers of those games collected between $650,000 and $850,000, according to the Sporting News.

In 2013, Miami beat Savannah State 77-7, Utah beat Weber State 70-7, Ohio State beat Florida A&M 76-0, Washington beat Idaho State 56-0. As The Washington Post noted, Savannah State played three FBS schools over a two-year period and lost by combined score of 216-7.

In 2016, Missouri routed Delaware State 79-0, outgaining its opponent 698 yards to 140 despite benching starters late in the first half and shortening the game. Delaware State originally declined an offer to shorten the game, but down 58-0 at halftime, the school changed its mind and the third and fourth quarters were cut from 15 minutes to 10.

How can this be entertaining and why do fans put up with it? Well, for one thing fans — the customers — have no choice. These games are part of the season-ticket package; they’re paying for them even if they don’t attend. It’s just another sellout for the school all the way around.

There’s a perfectly reasonable and simple remedy to this situation. If a 12-game schedule is such a grind that coaches feel compelled to play small schools, then cut out the 12th game; return to an 11-game season.

32 comments on this story

Since 2006, the NCAA has allowed 12 games (it had previously made some exceptions for a 12th game, such as scheduling Hawaii). This was needed, it was decided, because the extra game would mean more gate receipts and help pay the bills. Instead of using that 12th game for a legitimate opponent, schools have chosen to fill it with a vastly inferior opponent. So get rid of the 12th game. Problem solved.

In 2015, the Big Ten adopted a rule prohibiting its members from playing FCS schools. In 2017, it modified the rule, allowing teams with four of their nine conference games at home to add an FCS team to the schedule.

So the embarrassment continues.