Kirby Smart, on the dilemma posed by guarantee games ($$):
Kirby Smart was asked Monday about the value of playing these FCS games, and whether he would like to continue doing it. He gave a lengthy answer that boiled down to two points:
Yes, he would like to because it’s good for the smaller schools, who tell him that sometimes half their budget comes from guarantee games, and much of that money goes to players’ scholarships. If it means keeping these programs alive, then Smart wants to do so for the sake of the sport.
“My concern is that less kids grow up wanting to play football because less of their parents may have played football and reached out to another sport,” Smart said. “When you take away the opportunities at these universities, you take away a lot of opportunities for kids to get scholarships and go play. Some of these FCS schools are what keep these kids’ hopes alive to play football in college when you might not be an SEC-caliber player.”
But Smart’s second point is it’s going to be hard to keep doing it.
“The league is going to get bigger. There’s going to be more games, and fans want the bigger games,” he said. “Fans don’t usually want these games. It’s a pulling of two separate ways.”
There’s also the dilemma of SEC coaches wanting the easy win for win’s sake, but I digress.
Fans don’t want to spend money on “these games”. Churlish of us, I know. But here’s the thing — even if the SEC adds another conference game to the schedule — not that I’m convinced Sankey’s going that route — and even if schools continue to beef up their non-conference scheduling to impress the selection committee, nobody in their right mind is going to quit playing cupcake games altogether.
Beyond that, a pretty obvious compromise I can think of, if a primary consideration is making sure FCS schools’ budgets aren’t hammered, is to allow FBS schools to play a spring game against FCS opposition, charge something for it (before you ask, yes, I’d fork over something for that) and pay the visitor a guarantee fee. If it takes on the trappings of something more than a glorified scrimmage, which is all something like G-Day is, it’s probably worth more to Mickey to broadcast it. That’s as close to a win-win as I can come up with.