Our List of FCS Upsets Versus NCAA List

This page is dedicated to listing and explaining the differences between the list of FCS wins the NCAA has against the list Fear The FCS has. We go season by season to explain each discrepancy between the lists. A side by side comparison can be found via this Google Drive link. The differences in the Google Sheets link have been highlighted in peach. Column O explains the differences between the two lists.

One of the main reasons for the difference between the lists is due to when a team is transitioning out of the FCS to the FBS. How the NCAA applies the rule to transitions is rather… interesting. We try to have one standard for all teams, however, we can understand why the NCAA did not always apply the rule equally in some cases.

Another reason is due to the omissions of a team or inclusion of a team that is not actually I-AA/FCS (i.e. Delaware in 1978 and 1979).

Who was I-A and who was I-AA?

Most discrepancies can be summed up in two questions:

  1. Which teams were considered I-AA?
  2. Which teams were considered I-A?

As simple as those questions seem, it does not help that the NCAA’s list of upsets include both teams even when the NCAA’s records indicate their not I-AA. In most cases, we make a compelling argument that the NCAA has misclassified the teams in question.

1982 Through 1985

A special case of the misclassifications occurred between 1982 and 1985. Starting with the 1982 season, the NCAA had a new set of requirements to maintain I-A standards. This led to a temporary reclassification of teams such as Bowling Green, which was an I-AA team by the NCAA requirements, yet magically participated (page 16) in an I-A bowl game.

Given the temporary nature of these and the fact most teams obtained the requirements quickly, we do not consider them as I-AA. That leads to quite a divergence between our list and the NCAA’s list. Complicating this is the Missouri Valley Conference (not the current MVFC) had a mixture of I-A and I-AA teams. The I-AA programs were Drake, Illinois State, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, and West Texas State (later became West Texas A&M). We stayed true to the NCAA’s ruling in this instance because these programs never attempted to return to I-A status.

1986 Through 2003

For the most part, the lists match up quite well. Only a few spattering of games are missing on the NCAA side. Another aspect that would become prominent after 2003 is how the NCAA classifies teams moving to I-AA/FCS. The NCAA records usually have teams listed as they become officially eligible to participate in the I-AA/FCS postseason. Troy’s 1992 season and South Florida in 2000 were the only instances in this time frame that posed a difference.

2004 Season

Remember that whole transition causing discrepancies problem? Well, 2004 was the prime example and deserves a section of its own. Florida Atlantic, Florida International, and Florida A&M were all moving from I-AA to I-A. The NCAA lists them as I-AA/FCS teams for the season but the devil is in the details as they say. A closer look at the schedules shows a mixed schedule of I-A and I-AA teams – a hallmark of teams transitioning to a higher level.

How can we say these three schools need to be considered I-AA against what the NCAA has listed? We need only to look at the 2005 season. Remember how the NCAA does not consider a team as I-AA/FCS until they are fully eligible? In 2005, UC Davis stunned Stanford 20-17. However, the Aggies were still transitioning from Division II and would not become fully eligible until 2007.

Yeah, yeah hindsight is 20/20 in allowing us to apply that rule but it helps highlight the difficulties creating this list and the inconsistencies that can pop up even amongst the recordkeepers.

2005 to Present

Amazingly, since 2005 the two lists are nearly identical except for one instance in 2013. That’s when Old Dominion was transitioning from the FCS to the FBS. The NCAA has Old Dominion as an FCS upset but does not list them as an FCS team for that season. While technically an FCS independent, ODU had the staple of an FBS team with roughly half their schedule against FBS opponents and the other half against FCS teams.

While we believe this list represents a comprehensive and thorough analysis since 1978, we acknowledge this list may be incorrect (beyond what we outlined against the NCAA’s list). We greatly appreciate any feedback, concerns, or comments about our list of FCS over FBS wins.

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