published Monday, February 18th, 2013

Division I divide hurts FCS teams

• Fans, coaches and players struggle to understand that bowl subdivision teams and those such as UTC are all the the top division of the NCAA.

Which of the following schools does not play Division I football: Georgia, Texas, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Bowling Green, Ohio, Richmond or Northern Iowa?

Actually, they all do, although you wouldn't necessarily know it from the way people talk about the top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision.

"We've made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said during a radio interview last week.

Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino read that quote.

"I hate to inform Barry, but we [the FCS] are Division I," he said. "That's a common misconception out there that we constantly have to work through."

What Alvarez was trying to say was the the Big Ten is at least discussing the possibility of no longer scheduling games against FCS programs. Alvarez is far from alone in using the term "Division I" or "D-I" to describe just the FBS. Many college coaches and college players do it, as do high school coaches and players.

For years there was Division I-A and Division I-AA. In 2006, the names were changed to the FBS and FCS.

Any confusion that already existed between the 85-scholarship upper level of Division I and the second level, which has a maximum of 63 scholarships, doesn't appear to have been resolved by the name change.

Last August, Patty Viverito, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, said the FCS had an "identity crisis." To address the issue, Iamarino said the FCS, with the cooperation of the NCAA, will be introducing some new FCS branding that will highlight the fact that the FCS is still Division I.

"We, at long last, have gotten the NCAA to understand that we need a mark that emphasized the fact that we're Division I, so I think you're going to see a new logo for the FCS that hopefully all the conferences in our subdivision will use all over the place," Iamarino said. "It has the words 'Division I' in the logo, in the mark, because we're trying to emphasize that this is Division I football."

UTC coach Russ Huesman has spent most of his 30-plus years in the business coaching at the FCS level. Regardless of any confusion or what people call it, he said, there is very good football being played in the FCS.

"They can view us any way they want," he said following the Mocs' mat drills Friday. "Barry Alvarez and the fellas can view however they want. We've got great football players, we can play football at this level -- we're Division I football no matter what they think."

Search update

Huesman is looking for a new defensive coordinator and he has a defensive assistant spot to fill. He said he's received "a lot of inquiries" about the coordinator job, but everything is still in the early stages. One thing is certain, he said: "I will not be the defensive coordinator here next year."

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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