Spring Football: The Forgotten Season
The day after the Super Bowl marks what is usually one of the saddest days of the year for football fans everywhere. In a typical year, this date begins a countdown to August when the college football season kicks off. Unfortunately, this year has been anything but normal with constant cancellations and rescheduling throughout the 2020 NFL and collegiate seasons, but many are just now realizing a silver lining. On February 19th, South Dakota State University will be traveling to the University of Northern Iowa in the first game of the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) season.
While typically overshadowed by the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) season, the widely unappreciated FCS season will be in the spotlight this spring as they will no longer be competing for viewership with blue-blood “Power 5” programs like Alabama, Penn State, Clemson and countless others. Though a small-market program like Jackson State University may not entice the casual football viewer, the signing of head coach Deion “Primetime” Sanders has already thrust the team into the national spotlight. In his first year, Coach Sanders managed to reel in the 84th best recruiting class in all of college football, beating out the entirety of the FCS as well as earning the designation of the top recruiting class ever amongst the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The number of NFL legends and stars of today yielding from these programs must not be underestimated. All-time greats such as Jerry Rice, Michael Strahan, Terrell Owens, and Deacon Jones all have two things in common: careers at small FCS schools as well as enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In today’s game, we have the FCS to thank for All-Pro studs like Darius Leonard, James Bradberry IV, and David Johnson.
At the forefront of the FCS stands North Dakota State University, the victors of 8 of the past 9 FCS championships, who are currently riding a 38 game winning streak. This unfathomable consistency represents the third longest winning streak in all of college football history, and the longest since Oklahoma University won 47 straight games in the 1950s. To the team’s dismay, they will compete this season without potential top-5 NFL draft pick and superstar quarterback Trey Lance, who chose to forgo the spring season to prepare for his NFL career.
Though it is more than likely that the upcoming months of FCS football will only appeal to Vegas bettors, football junkies and NFL scouts, the degree to which the league has impacted the NFL should not be ignored. Additionally, I plead that football fans everywhere turn their attention to the 24-team (temporarily 16 due to COVID) playoff system that the FCS utilizes and consider the excitement it would create if implemented in the FBS. If nothing else at all, when the all-too-familiar pandemic boredom hits, turn on ESPN+ and watch Davidson University play Elon University, as you might just be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of future NFL greatness.