NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools

NCAA Division I-FBS independent schools

NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision independent schools are four-year institutions whose football programs are not part of an NCAA-affiliated conference. This means that FBS independents do not schedule each other for competition like conference schools do. There are considerably fewer independent schools than in years past; many independent schools later join (or attempt to join) established conferences, usually in order to gain a share of television revenue and access to bowl games that agree to take teams from certain conferences.

All Division I FBS independents are eligible for a BCS bowl provided they meet BCS eligibility requirements. Currently, those requirements are finishing in the top 14 of the final BCS standings and there being at least one slot not filled through automatic provisions. [ [] ] Notre Dame can receive an automatic bid by finishing in the top 8 of the final standings. Notre Dame also has other bowl agreements as part of its affiliation with the Big East, and Navy and Army have agreements with the EagleBank Bowl. [Tenorio, Paul. [ "Bowl Game Brings Football Back to RFK"] . The Washington Post. September 11, 2008. Retrieved October 5, 2008.]

Reasons for being Independent

In recent years, most Independent FBS schools have joined a conference for two primary reasons - in order to gain a guaranteed share of television and bowl revenues, and for ease of scheduling. The three Independent FBS schools that are remaining independent (or returned to independent status), all have unique circumstances that circumvent their need for conference affiliation.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is one of the most nationally prominent programs in the country. Due to its national popularity built over many years, Notre Dame is the only individual school to have its own national television contract (with NBC)cite news|first=Richard|last=Sandomir|title= COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Notre Dame Scored a $38 Million Touchdown on Its TV Deal|work=New York Times|publisher=""|date=1991-08-25|url= |accessdate=2008-04-06] cite web|title= NBC and Notre Dame Extend Football Agreement Through 2010|publisher=""|date=2003-12-18|url= |accessdate=2008-04-06] , and is the only individual school to be part of the BCS coalition (including a guaranteed payout from the BCS). All these factors help make Notre Dame the most financially valuable football program in the country, thus negating the need for Notre Dame to secure revenue by joining a conference. cite web|first=Jack|last=Gage|title=The most valuable college football teams |work=Forbes|publisher=""|date=2006-12-22|url= |accessdate=2008-04-06] cite web|title=Notre Dame Football Program Ranked Most Valuable In College Football||publisher=""|date=2006-11-20|url= |accessdate=2008-04-06]

From a scheduling standpoint, Notre Dame has longstanding rivalries with many different programs around the country, including annual rivalry games with USC, Michigan, Michigan State, Navy, and Purdue. They also have semi-recurring rivalries with Air Force, Army, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Pitt, and in recent years, Stanford. Finally, all Notre Dame home games and most of their away games are nationally televised, meaning that even teams that do not have a rivalry with Notre Dame have a strong financial incentive to schedule them. These factors make it much easier for Notre Dame to fill their schedule on an annual basis than it would be for most other teams. Additionally, if Notre Dame were to join a conference, they would likely have to eliminate or reduce the frequency of several of their prominent rivalries.

Army and Navy

The other two Independent programs are two of the service academies, Army and Navy. Because the service academies are fully funded by the federal government, they do not have the financial requirements that most other schools have, where television and bowl appearances are important sources of revenue and advertising for both the football program and the school. Therefore, they do not have any financial incentive to join a conference.

Because of the unique nature of the service academies, scheduling is less of an issue than for most schools. From a scheduling standpoint, both of these service academies already have annual games guaranteed with each other and with Air Force. In addition, Navy has an annual rivalry game with Notre Dame and Army has a semi-regular rivalry with Notre Dame. Finally, despite the two programs lack of prominence in recent years, television rights for the Army-Navy Game, because of the tradition associated with it, serves as a major revenue source for the programs. The service academies also use their football programs for general recruiting purposes. Without being tied to a conference schedule, and because of their geographically dispersed fan base (potentially all active or retired Navy or Army personnel), the Academies are able to more easily schedule games around the country than would be possible for other teams.

Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers are a member of Independents because they are making the transition from 1-AA to 1-A and in 2009 will move to the Sun Belt Conference.

FBS Independents for 2008

* United States Military Academy (Army) (left Conference USA after the 2004 season; member of Patriot League for all other sports sponsored by that league)
* United States Naval Academy (Navy) (member of Patriot League for all other sports sponsored by that league)
* University of Notre Dame (member of Big East Conference for all other sports sponsored by that league)
* Western Kentucky University (will leave in 2009 for the Sun Belt Conference)

Temple Owls

Left the conference following the 2007 season to join the Mid American Conference.

Independents' Stadiums


ee also

*NCAA Division I-FCS independent schools
*NCAA Division I independent schools (basketball)
*NCAA Division I independents (women's hockey)
*NCAA Division II independent schools
*NCAA Division III independent schools
*NAIA independent schools

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