Switching to FCS could bring football success
April 3, 2017
Filed under Sports Op-ed
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“Time for a change” is the slogan that America lived under for eight years, and it’s the same slogan that ULM football needs to take into consideration.
It’s time to make the change from the FBS division and drop back down to the FCS division.
The Warhawks have been in the FBS since 1994, and since then, they have boasted one bowl game appearance and only four seasons with at least a .500 record.
For a long time, coaching was thought to be an issue, but with ULM now on its fifth coach, who in his first season finished with a losing record, you have to assume it may be something else.
The combined record of the coaches is a mediocre 91-166, with an average of four wins a year. The average tenure of coaches at ULM since 1994 has been five years.
You could ask for more of a household name to fill in the coaching void, but you would have to pay the coach and his staff significantly more than ULM could afford.
Coach Matt Viator is making $390,000 a year, which is one of the lowest salaries out of all FBS coaches, with the average being $1.64 million. Jim Harbaugh of Michigan is the highest-paid coach at $9 million a year.
At the FCS level, Viator would be the third highest-paid coach, with Liberty University’s Turner Gill almost doubling that, making around $750,000 a year. It gets hard to compete in the FBS when you have one of the lowest revenues in the division.
Playing in cash games (games against top tier competition for compensation) doesn’t sit easily when, at the end, you have another losing season next to your name.
The only benefit of being a small school in the FBS is the revenue brought in from cash games, which helps fund other sports at the university and the national recognition we would receive if an upset were to occur.
The last time the school won a conference title was back in 2005. Since joining the Sunbelt Conference in 2001, ULM has finished Top 3 in conference play five times.
The Warhawks haven’t had a winning record since 2012, also known as the miracle season when they defeated Arkansas in the season opener and went the distance with Baylor and Oklahoma.
The seating capacity for Malone Stadium is 30,427, but the average attendance for home games falls between 12,000 to 13,000 people and is usually less than that by the time the fourth quarter starts.
A crowd of almost 25,000 led into Malone Stadium last season when the Warhawks took on in-state competitor Southern University.
It’s hard to keep the fans spirit high when, midway into the season, they know it will be another losing one.
Making the transition from FBS to FCS would result in the saving of $330,000 in scholarship money.
With ULM in contract with the Sun Belt Conference through 2019, they will have some time to think about making the change that would benefit their program in multiple ways.