You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Parity in college football makes upsets commonplace, blurs FBS and FCS distinction

By Pete Bigelow


James Madison fans celebrate a 21-16 win at Virginia Tech last Saturday.

AP Photo | Don Petersen

In the season’s first week, Jacksonville State claimed headlines with an upset of Ole Miss. In week two, James Madison stunned No. 13 Virginia Tech.

Those are the highlights, but they’re not the only wins Football Championship Subdivision teams have over their more prominent counterparts in 2010.

David is beating Goliath more often these days.

“I’m not sure there are upsets in college football anymore,” Indiana coach Bill Lynch said.

The FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA, already has six wins against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents this year. Two weeks into the season, that surpasses last year’s total of four.

“You see it more now in the last couple of years than ever because of parity in college football,” said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, invoking a word usually reserved for sizing up NFL competition.

Rodriguez and his Michigan football team face UMass this Saturday in Ann Arbor. UMass is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, which has a 28-117 record against Division I-A competitors.

He believes the reduction in Division I-A scholarships to 85, the advent of recruiting services and the increased emphasis on facilities and strength and conditioning all have helped flatten the field.

“To think that only the good players go to only the so-called elite schools, that doesn’t happen,” he said.

Players can get noticed anywhere. In 2010, NFL teams drafted 16 players from FCS schools, along with five more from Division II football teams.

Michigan is no stranger to potential juggernauts at the FCS level.

In 2007, Appalachian State defeated the No. 5 Wolverines, 34-32, in the Big House, becoming the first FCS school to ever beat a ranked FBS team. At the time, it had all the shocked-the-world drama of a Hollywood script. In retrospect, it was the FCS's Fort Sumter shot at the rest of college football.

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or e-mailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Ann English

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 5:44 p.m.

So that is why the Wolverines have played teams in recent years that we never heard of before, during the regular season. This might be one factor in the 3-game increase in bowl games for this season. Sounds like Michigan should be prepared for more scares from opposing teams with this growing parity. UMass gave them a scare today. I had heard that the Minutemen were an inferior team in their division. Now I hear that the Wolverines need to work on their defense.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:26 p.m.

Appalachian State would have been a fringe top-25 team in I-A in 2007, and won the I-AA championship. Delaware State was among the bottom 20 in I-AA, and had no business coming up here. Comparing those two teams is like comparing the 2007 New England Patriots to the 2008 Detroit Lions. It's still an upset when an FCS team beats an FBS team. This season, in week 1, the FBS was 36-2 against the FCS. In 2009, it was 35-3. In 2008, it was 31-1. In 2007, it was 21-2. So I wouldn't go overboard and start talking about parity. UMass is a solid I-AA team. Michigan should win, but it's not a walkover like Delaware State was.