Five reasons to love the FCS

CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
The Associated Press
Illinois State vs Northwestern during an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill, Saturday, September 10, 2016 Photo/Matt Marton

Five reasons to love the FCS

Illinois State vs Northwestern during an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill, Saturday, September 10, 2016 Photo/Matt Marton

(STATS) - Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, but the heart can grow fonder on a Thursday night in late August or a Saturday afternoon in October.

The FCS is a love affair for its schools, teams and fans.

This offseason, here are five reasons to appreciate and love football in the subdivision:

1. The players: The FCS isn't a minor league for the NFL, and the majority of the players realize their careers are over after their senior seasons. So getting a college degree is ultra-important and makes the players more like the fans filling the seats. Many play with a chip on their shoulder for being on the so-called "small school" level.

2. Up-close-and-personal: There isn't an intimate setting at many FBS stadiums, but there is across the FCS, where the venues are smaller and right on top of the action (thank you, Washington-Grizzly Stadium). There are passionate fan bases and alumni ready to tailgate and support the programs.

3. Conference titles matter: Similar to a lot of college sports, FCS teams make winning their conference title their first goal, and go from there. It brings a championship, playoff feel to conference matchups. It's a lot more memorable than winning, say, an AFC South or NBA Northwest title.

4. Upsets, upsets and, well, upsets: Unpredictability in the FCS? Indeed. Seasons often open with FCS-beats-FBS results, and many conference titles are won by teams that came out of nowhere. The schedule grows with importance each week as the favored teams try to not get picked off.

5. Playoffs: Here's where the FCS separates itself on the Division I level - a 24-team playoff. That number trumps four qualifiers from you-know-where. If you remember who won the Bahamas Bowl or the Dollar General Bowl last season, congratulations. And while you also may not know who won the Frisco Bowl in late December, you'll remember the FCS team that captured the national title in Frisco, Texas, in early January.

Happy Valentine's Day. Is it game day yet?

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