What FCS schedules in spring may look like
By CRAIG HALEY
(Stats Perform) - Should a spring season occur across FCS college football, some of the conferences will make changes from their original plan for this fall.
All 13 conferences postponed their conference schedules due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. Among 127 overall programs, 15 are playing at least one nonconference game this fall, and a few of them don't plan to play in the spring semester.
A shorter regular season from late February to mid-April will not allow for many nonconference games. It's been recommended the national playoffs run from April 18 (release of 16-team field) until May 15.
Here's a quick conference-by-conference look at the spring:
Big Sky - The conference's football committee may be a month away from finalizing a plan because weather and travel would have significant effect on the schedule in this spread-out landscape. The usual conference schedule is eight games.
Big South - Robert Morris would have competed as an FCS independent in the fall, but indications are the incoming member will be included in the spring season and eligible for the conference title. There would make for eight teams, but North Alabama is not eligibile for the title during its Division I transition.
CAA Football - The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was the first to report the 12-member conference is considering a split into north and south divisions for the spring, and the division winners would meet in a championship game. The CAA has utilized divisional play, most recently in 2009, but have never had a conference title game.
Independents - Without future conference affiliation on the FCS level, transitioning programs Dixie State and Tarleton may be in the toughest spot for filling out their schedules.
Ivy - The only FCS conference that doesn't participate in the postseason, the Ivies could be headed to a seven-game, league-only schedule.
MEAC - The MEAC will go regional for the spring by splitting into divisions - four members in the North and five in the much-stronger South - and a have conference championship game for the first time on May 1. The six-game regular schedule, which would begin Feb. 27, doesn't call for cross-divisional games, so home-and-home series are possible.
Missouri Valley - The MVFC, which is up to 11 teams with the addition of North Dakota, would play its original eight-game conference schedule - the same opponents, road and home, but the sequence will be different due to facility conflicts.
Northeast - Merrimack would finally be included on every other member's schedule, but the Warriors still wouldn't be eligible for the conference title. It will mean seven games for each conference member (with six counting in the standings), leaving room for one nonconference game.
Ohio Valley - With Eastern Kentucky scheduled to play eight games in the fall and not participate in the spring schedule, the nine-member OVC would drop from eight to seven conference games.
Patriot - The league schedule is six games. If the Ivy League is not available for non-league games, NEC, CAA and some PFL schools are regional options.
Pioneer - The coast-to-coast league is discussing all possible variations. It may make sense to include games with Presbyterian, which is scheduled to join the league in July.
Southern - The Citadel is playing four nonconference games this fall, so in a calendar year that allows for a maximum of 11 regular-season FCS games, it would likely have to apply for a 12th-game waiver from the NCAA considering the SoCon has an eight-game conference schedule.
Southland - Three of the 11 schools - Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin - aren't planning to participate in a spring conference schedule. Houston Baptist only has three games this fall, so it would be part of the conference schedule unless it also opts out.
SWAC - The first conference to announce its spring plan, the SWAC will kick off a six-game conference schedule (four intradivision, two crossover) on Feb. 27 with the possibility of one nonconference game. The East and West division winners will meet in the conference championship game on May 1.
Updated September 15, 2020