Every football season, the debate seems to reappear. Should the big schools be playing (and usually destroying) the smaller FCS schools?
I think teams should be able to schedule FCS teams if they want. Critics can say Baylor would have been in the playoff last season if they had scheduled a tougher team. Well that is their fault. They have to live the consequences of their schedule. (I won't mention that the committee was always going to choose Ohio State over a smaller private school/non-blue blood college football team when given the opportunity. Let's not pretend they make those tough decisions based on anything other than money.) To make a comparison why should someone tell you that you have to wear a seatbelt? We are all equipped with enough information to know that the majority of the time they save your life or reduce the chance of injury in a car wreck by wearing a seatbelt. The decision should then be ours to make and the consequences are ours to live with.
The FBS vs. FCS matchup only occurs once per year. Why are we getting upset about one guaranteed win per year versus a patsy? Sure the matchup isn't going to get a visit from College Gameday, but isn't a guaranteed win worth giving up a premier match up versus a Power 5 school. Each team has two to three other non-conference games available to schedule a FBS school.
Lastly and most compelling argument is that the matchups work for both schools. Most FBS schools like at least one gimme game on the schedule. Running the gauntlet of a Power 5 conference schedule is tough enough on its own, so setting up a favorable non-conference schedule is a big benefit. FCS schools love the opportunity to play the big schools for the payday. The payday from one game versus an FBS school can sometimes represent as much as 10% of their annual athletic budget. That is too good of an opportunity to pass up. The almost guaranteed loss is worth the tradeoff. And the off chance they win (see Appalachian State and North Dakota State) is just a cherry on top of an already appetizing sundae.
So let's quit trying to regulate every decision made by these programs. Give these programs some flexibility to make the best decisions for their players, fans and programs.
I do not believe teams in the Power 5 conferences should be able to schedule FCS schools in their non-conference schedule. If the end result of the season is to crown the best team in the nation, then teams need to be playing the best of the best. If one team is playing Incarnate Word, while another has Arkansas on their schedule, how can their results be compared? I know the playoff committee takes strength of schedule into account, and many believe that hurt Baylor in last year's college playoff. Having fewer quantified categories to crown the champion would place more emphasis on the actual play of the team.
As fun as some of the FCS games have been for the fans in recent years, the quality of competition is much lower in those games. When I was a student in 2005, Tech beat up on Florida International in the first game, and had Sam Houston State next. I didn't even bother going to the game, knowing if we put up 50+ on a lower level FBS team, the game against an FCS team would be even less entertaining. And sure enough, we put up 80 on Sam Houston. It was fun scoring almost 200 points in 3 weeks, but the games got boring for me. It was similar to setting all the sliders to the max for the user and min for the AI in Madden (since we can't have NCAA Football any more ). It's fun for a little while, but then gets boring and very non-competitive. The non-conference games that year were little more than a glorified practice in front of the fans. These games should be used to spread the brand that is your team and university for recruiting purposes and to get your team ready for the conference schedule. It also gives your fans the chance to see a team they would not get normally. Tech hadn't played Arkansas before last year since 1990.
The NFL has regulated the schedule of their teams so that you get to see other teams on a regular basis. Certain divisions will play other divisions and certain placed teams will play other teams that had a similar season. This could resolve the issue of having to schedule your games up to 7 years in advance, as we already know 2 games in the 2022 season, Wyoming and Houston. Playing the FCS teams is a great way for the small programs to make a good chunk of money but I believe it ends up hurting the FBS team more than helping out the FCS team.