Today has been a very weird day.

Many of you know my life’s goal: To become the next Heidi Watney.

In order to accomplish this, I need to get sports-savvy. And, more importantly, I need sports-savvy street cred.

THIS is me at an ASU football game with my bestie a few years ago:

Then it got cold. Really cold.

We left at halftime.

Clearly, I have a ways to go. But whenever sports lets me slide in and write a sports story… I jump in. Whenever possible.

Today, an opportunity popped up as Appalachian State University Chancellor Kenneth Peacock made the announcement that a decision on possibly repositioning ASU is imminent. And so, armed with Wiki-pedia and my old network news sports director’s number on speed-dial, I proceeded to spend the next three hours fulfilling a quest: Look smart when talking about football. It’s a process, really. One that should be easy for an ASU graduate. Um. Yeah.

After defining terms like Football Bowl Subdivision (what they’re talking about) and Football Championship Subdivision (what we’re in), I knew I was ready to start typing.

I go in with a clear cut idea: FBS good. FCS lame.

13 revisions later, I have so many questions. And my brain hurts a little.

My contacts, my research, say many things. Says increased attendance at games (our games are already sold out). It says increased economics (the town of Boone is under water restrictions and doesn’t issue new business permits likely). It says increased tourism (our roads already can’t handle the bulk of summer tourist traffic. And don’t get me started on the parking). It says more scholarships (but the money has to come from somewhere, and thanks to Title IV, has to go into women’s sports equally. This could put other sports program scholarships in jeopardy- stuff like Cycling- where ASU has a national championship under its belt, golf, etc). It says so many “compelling” things.

But there’s one argument that took me awhile to understand. “It means ASU will never win another National Championship again.”

Think about that.

If you don’t live in Boone- if you’re not connected to the culture- that might not mean a lot. But when we beat Michigan. When we beat… um… EVERYONE. This town was transformed. Sold out stadiums. Black and gold everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Will we still have that if we’re the new favorite Homecoming team?

Add in the fact that, while we may be able to play bigger teams, big named teams will NEVER come to Boone…

I’m not seeing this as a good idea. Couple that with ASU’s emphasis on academics versus some discussion about what to do about NCAA infractions… and … I’m not seeing the plus.

I’m fully aware that Bruce and Jeb might be the only ones to find this post interesting- but the professional writer in me is really curious- what does the internet world think about the possibility of Appalachian State University moving from SoCon to FBS? They’re looking at Conference USA (ECU, Marshall).

They’re looking to decide soon.

Am I naive in questioning this? Or remarkably astute. Seriously. You decide. And, if you’re Boone-side, a read to the Sunday paper might put a few things into perspective. Don’t worry. Sports gets a whole day with it. I was already laughed at for referring to “non-conference games” as “inter-league play.”



PS- Can you all (even those of you who don’t give a frick about college football) just be proud of me for a sec? Because our sports editor said my coverage was “just fine” and that he was “surprised at (my) insight.”


  1. July 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm


  2. Jeb
    July 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I haven’t done enough research to say whether moving up is a firm yes or no. There are pros and cons with either decision and some I don’t feel qualified to speak on. I sincerely hope that if an unbiased examination suggests that the football team and university are better suited staying in FCS that they do so. I do have a few observations:

    1. This may not be App’s decision to make. There was some significant reshuffling of conference affiliations in Summer 2010 and we were probably one or two moves way from mass chaos. If other teams such as Montana, Georgia Southern, most members of the Colonial start moving up, App could quickly see themselves being forced to as well.

    2. What was the goal of the stadium renovation? If the goal was to have the nicest complex in FCS, then I would venture to say that it was a tremendous waste of resources. I have read quotes from NFL personnel stating that App has one of the 40 best complexes in ALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Why was this done if not to prepare for FBS? It’s a sunk cost now so it shouldn’t be taken into consideration for any future decisions but it begs the question.

    3. if your sources are suggesting that C-USA is the most likely target, that would be acceptable from a football program standpoint. If the best place to go is Sun Belt/MAC/Independent, they should stay in FCS. Those leagues are FBS in name only and may be forced back to the lower divisions in case of massive realignment. They are barely more competitive than the Colonial or the SoCon in a good year. C-USA is literally the lowest acceptable target for FBS conference affiliation. It’s a decent league and has a better chance of survival than MAC/Sun Belt.Geography would be an issue in a conference that stretches to Texas but ECU and Marshall are members which could preserve and enrich rivalries. Big East or ACC membership would be even better but the odds of those are probably slim and none respectively.

    I’m coming at this from a football perspective. Discussion of impact on other sports, academics, logistics, etc are a completely different animal but should be part of the discussion. Playing in the big time gets people excited but the decision needs to be made from an overall school standpoint and not to the detriment of other programs whether they be athletic or academic.

  3. August 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

    You go girl! Since you asked, I do have an opinion. But first this disclaimer:

    I’m not a big college football fan, I follow pro football.
    I’m not from around here originally (you’ve heard my accent, no surprise).
    My only familiarity with ASU is from what I’ve seen and read locally, and the one morning I drove through Boone.

    Ok. For me the charm of ASU has been with it being the David to all the NCAA football Goliaths. Now from what I got from your post it seems David wants to start taking steroids to be like the Goliaths and battle them on their terms. Where’s the charm in that?

  4. August 3, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Well done, Lauren! You framed the question perfectly. Villanova, right down the road from me, is currently going through the same situation. Should they take a “step up” to big-time, Big East football or stay at the “sub” level and continue to excel, win titles, etc. Ironically, I can recall a day when Villanova tried to complete with the big boys and subsequently gave up that ghost after pouring millions into trying to keep afloat. Now, here they are again…possibly not learning from history and likely doomed to repeat their mistake of years gone by. ASU should stay right where they are at, regardless of who else does what. Everyone has to look out for themselves and their own best interest. Big-time college football basically consists of a handful of collegiate mobsters (conferences) who try to drag as many unsuspecting small colleges up to their alleged level so they can play the role of pin-cushions. These lesser colleges use up most of their school’s valued assets trying to just keep a “big-time” program on the field let alone actually be good enough to compete with the mobsters. Jeb’s last paragraph is spot-on. The discussion has so much less to do with football…because if App State takes a bite out of this apple they will never win another foootball title and be condemned to meaningless bowl games for eternity. It is all about how the culture and climate and environment will change at the school…will players get a “pass” on academics versus regular students, how many other sports will be canned (men’s and women’s) so they can field a “big-time” football program $$$-wise, how many of those $$$ will be needed/allocated to upgrading existing facilities or build brand new ones, etc,. etc. ASU’s rich tradition of football success will evaporate in a few years and they’ll just be a pin-cushion for the “big-time” teams to stick their wins into.

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