On Sept. 9, 2015, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen made a statement about football scheduling that initially sent minor shockwaves throughout the college football landscape.
That message was for Power Five teams to stop scheduling FCS programs.
“If we are scheduling two Power 5 schools and a non-Power 5 school, then I wish everyone else would too, as opposed to what some of the other schools are doing by scheduling an FCS school or two FCS schools and two other non-Power 5 schools,” Holgorsen said. “You can figure out who I’m talking about.”
Who Holgorsen was talking about could have been Baylor, who at the time had a non-conference schedule comprised of SMU, Lamar and Rice. Lamar is an FCS program, while SMU and Rice are non-Power 5 schools.
At the time, WVU had two remaining obligations with FCS schools, a game against Liberty (who has since been promoted to FBS status) later that week and a game against Youngstown State in 2016.
Furthermore, WVU had scheduled multiple series against Power 5 schools including Virginia Tech, Penn State, Maryland, Tennessee, NC State and Missouri. The day after Holgorsen made his statement, both WVU and Pitt announced that the Backyard Brawl would be renewed.
"Don't get me wrong," Holgorsen said. "I can't blame our schedule-makers for doing what everyone else in the country does – and I know these matchups are huge paydays for these little schools –but these games count as wins for the FBS schools."
All in all, everyone just kind of assumed that the Mountaineers would stop scheduling FCS teams.
Everyone who assumed couldn’t have been more wrong.
In June 2016, the Mountaineers added a 2017 game with FCS cellar-dweller Delaware State. Three months later, the Charleston Gazette-Mail broke the news that the Mountaineers will add another game against Youngstown State in 2018 and a game against James Madison in 2019.
“Youngstown State is a good football team now,” Holgorsen said the week of the news, which coincided with the Mountaineers’ 2016 meeting with Youngstown State.
“Everyone understands just being in this part of the country what Youngstown has done. It’s a winning tradition. They’ve won four national championships. They’ve had lots and lots of good players and lots of wins. Their players walk by their national championship trophies and conference championship trophies every single day.”
In January 2017, WVU added another FCS game against Indiana State for the 2021 season. Over a year later, the Mountaineers postponed a 2020 road game with traditional rival East Carolina to add a home game against FCS team Eastern Kentucky.
Just last week, a FOIA request by FBSchedules.com revealed that WVU will host Duquesne in 2023. Duquesne hasn’t played a Power 5 team since 1950.
Since Holgorsen said that Power 5 teams should stop scheduling FCS programs, the Mountaineers have added six more FCS games to their schedules.
While the Mountaineers have never lost to an FCS team, having to pay another school just to play a game seems like a big price to pay for a notch in the win column.