Over the next three years, five teams — Georgia State in 2013; Old Dominion, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in 2014; and Charlotte in 2015 — will transition from I-AA football to the I-A ranks. They continue the trend of schools promoting their football squads to the highest level of the collegiate sport, following on the footsteps of Massachusetts, Texas State, UT-San Antonio and South Alabama in 2012.
At first glance, the decision to move from the FCS to the FBS can easily be greeted with skepticism. At first glance, it can seem like a naked cash grab for schools that appear as though they will be unable to consistently compete at the highest level.
But there is indeed precedent for both successes and failures. Since the advent of the Alliance/Coalition/BCS era in 1992, 20 schools have embraced the challenge of moving their football teams from I-AA to I-A competition. Among their ranks are two teams that have reached BCS bowl games and ten more that can boast at least one conference championship since reaching the FBS ranks. Except for the four teams that moved up in 2012, every team to take the plunge has reached at least one bowl game.
Every weekday over the next month leading up to the start of the 2013 college football season, we will be taking a look at each of the universities that have made the leap to the I-A level. Each morning, starting today, we will be publishing a new case study that looks at individual teams and how they have fared after their promotion. Later in August, we will distill the information gleaned in the case studies to look at how the five newcomers to the top division might fare in the coming seasons and how this trend could affect the college game in the future.