What’s In a Name? The College Football Edition

Bye bye, D1-A and D1-AA football designations. Hello “Football Bowl Subdivision” and “Football Championship Subdivision.”

The NCAA is doing a little re-labeling, eliminating the Division I-A and I-AA tags that officially separate college football’s major and more modest programs.

Acknowledging frustration that the classification often brands an entire university as big-time or non-big-time, the association’s Division I Board of Directors moved Thursday to rename the subdivisions. Beginning in December, they’ll be known by their respective postseason formats.

What now are I-A programs — the Texases, Notre Dames and others vying for bowls — will play in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Georgia Southerns, Montanas and others now known as I-AA will play in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, alluding to the 16-team playoff that settles its national title.

The word “championship” sounds much better than “bowl.” Rather than merely naming the divisions after their postseason formats, could this be an attempt to marginally levitate the mid-major/directional/non big-time/minor/modest programs towards the status of the big schools in the minds of fans? What if the “Bowl Division” goes to a playoff format?

In any case, the powers that be can call the 1-AA schools whatever they like. Unless the absolute level of competition in D1-AA gets closer to that of D1-A, fan perceptions aren’t likely to change, regardless of what titles NCAA officials give the divisions. Until then, a mid-major by any other name… .

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Author: Phil Miller

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