Texas Tech Football Should Stop Playing FCS Opponents

Sep 3, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders running back Justin Stockton (4) tries to elude a tackle by Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks safety Zach Starnes (6) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders running back Justin Stockton (4) tries to elude a tackle by Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks safety Zach Starnes (6) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Tech football program has announced that it will play two games against FCS opponent Abilene Christian in the 2024 and 2026 seasons.  But, for the sake of the fans, the Red Raiders should stop playing FCS opponents.

Everyone remembers watching schoolyard fights.  Even if the fight was nothing more than the local bully roughing up a punch-less weakling, kids would watch because the pummeling was a break from the monotony of the normal school day.  Still, no one walked away with new respect for the bully, rather most just shook their head at how pointless the entire dustup was.

In the modern world of college football, FBS programs like Texas Tech have made it a yearly tradition to beat up on at least one FCS school in what amounts to a high school senior giving an eighth grader a bloody nose near the bicycle rack.  But just because this practice has become common place does not mean it should continue.

Today, the Texas Tech football program announced that the Red Raiders have agreed to play FCS weakling Abilene Christian at Jones Stadium in 2014 and 2026. This is the continuation of a frustrating methodology in the Red Raiders’ scheduling.

In fact, over the next decade, Texas Tech has a FCS team on the schedule for seven different seasons.  Moreover, the only season in which the Red Raiders have a full three-game non-conference slate set without playing an FCS opponent is 2022 when UTEP, Wyoming and Arizona are lined up.  History suggests that in the other two years that an FCS opponent is not yet on the schedule, one will eventually be added.

Some will defend the practice of scheduling FCS teams by pointing out that Texas Tech plays a more than respectable schedule in the Big 12 conference.  They will also point to the fact that Texas Tech is now facing at least one power 5 conference opponent each year in non-conference play.

Those points are valid and it is nice that the Red Raiders are no longer starting seasons with a schedule like 2005.  That year, Florida International, Sam Houston State and Indiana State comprised the Red Raiders’ out of conference slate.  The average score in those games was Texas Tech 66-10.

But there is no reason for Texas Tech football to play FCS opponents.  Those games add no value to the season or to the fan experience.

On the field, FCS opponents have at times jumped up to stun FBS teams.  For example, last season saw three FCS teams knock off FBS schools  in the same week. And that illustrates a huge reason Texas Tech should stop playing FCS schools.  There is nothing to gain.

In the best-cast scenario, Tech will beat these opponents by 50 points.  Routes of that nature provide little benefit to the key players other than allowing them to take out their frustrations on players in a different jersey than the ones they have been seeing during fall camp.

Embarrassing a helpless team that is just a few steps above the Texas 6-A High School State Champions does not boost the Red Raiders’ national prominence and it hardly gives the team more of a competitive advantage than an additional inter-squad scrimmage would.

More importantly, the fans deserve better.  Do not interpret the fact that these games always seem to draw well as proof that the fans enjoy seeing FCS opponents at Jones Stadium.

Almost all these FCS teams are lambs led to the slaughter for the home opener.  After eight months without football, fans would come to Jones Stadium in droves to watch Tech take on Cavazos Junior High just to satisfy our thirst for college football.

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As a season ticket holder for the past eleven years (one who has driven from Dallas and then Colorado for each home game), I find it anti-climactic to dedicate an entire weekend to a game that is going to be a blowout at best (or an unmitigated disaster if something were to go wrong).  These games provide no intrigue and by the middle of the third quarter the stadium is usually empty because everyone wants to get out of the heat or wants to go drink in the parking lot.

Yet, season ticket holders and students must pay to watch these wastes of time.  Though Texas Tech football season ticket prices are more affordable than ticket packages at most power 5 schools, it is still a large financial commitment for the average fan, especially those who must get a hotel room and pay for food and travel costs.

The fans deserve to see a competitive and entertaining product.  Games against FCS schools are a waste of time.

There are several FBS opponents that could provide fans with a more entertaining game while still allowing Texas Tech to get a comfortable win.  Fans would rather see games against schools like Fresno State, Tulsa or Utah State than see Missouri State, Lamar or Montana State (all future Texas Tech FCS foes).

Next: 5 Reasons Texas Tech Will Make The 2018 NCAA Tournament

Ultimately, I will be at these games as will most Texas Tech fans because there are only six home games a season making each one something that die-hard fans will not miss.  But, the dedication of Texas Tech fans should be rewarded with something more substantive than games against FCS opponents.  After all, everyone wants to see the bully fight an opponent that can at least hit back.