The Arizona State Sun Devils open their 2014 football season Thursday night against the Weber State Wildcats, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent from the Big Sky Conference.
Playing an FCS team is not a new occurrence for the Sun Devils. Over the last ten seasons, they’ve gone 8-0 against such opponents, outscoring them 376-79.
Weber State is ASU’s third FCS foe during head coach Todd Graham’s tenure in Tempe, but he’s not a big fan of playing the “little guys.”
“It’s nothing against any of those teams, I come from a mid-major background,” Graham told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I just think the fans deserve what they want. I’m a fan of the game as well and that’s something we try to talk about around here a lot, is that we represent the fans, the students, the Sun Devil Nation and I just don’t think they want to see those games.”
In actuality, seven FCS teams beat their FBS opponents during the opening weekend of play in 2013. But in the other 22 such matchups, the “big boys” won by an average margin of 32.2 points.
Graham, whose Sun Devils pounded FCS Sacramento State 55-0 in their opener a year ago, is confident his 19th-ranked team won’t be one of those victims this season against Weber State.
“That can’t happen and that’s not going to happen with our guys,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world that our guys will be prepared to go, but it’s hard because there’s a lot of unknown with them.”
Earlier this summer, the NCAA granted autonomy to the members of the Power 5 (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) conferences. Many coaches and administrators in that group are in favor of exclusive Power 5 scheduling in the future. Graham is among them.
“Would our players rather play Notre Dame or Weber State? There’s no question on what they would rather do,” Graham said. “For that to ever get there, there’s got to be a level playing field across the nation where everybody plays the same number of non-conference games, everybody has a championship game and the conference champions should be in the playoffs.
“These are a few opinions that I have and obviously that throws fuel on the fire. I know people think that I don’t look at these games seriously, but I do. I look at every game seriously. We’re trying to win every game that we go out on this field. But it’s hard for fans to get excited about those kind of games.”
While Graham’s comments about fans lacking excitement about FBS-FCS matchups is true, these games aren’t going away any time soon. There are 47 such contests on the opening weekend schedule around college football.