What does “FBS” Mean in College Football? Is “FCS” worse or better?

jacksonville state fcs what is fcs
FCS Jacksonville State upsets FBS Florida State

The college football landscape is confusing, certainly much more complicated than its professional counterpart, the NFL. So, when you hear terms like “FBS” and “FCS” thrown around while watching college football, it’s easy to get confused. Here’s a brief explanation of what exactly “FBS” and “FCS” mean in College Football.

FBS stands for “Football Bowl Subdivision”. The reason it’s called a subdivision is because both FBS and FCS are technically Division 1 football – but, “FBS” is the more competitive level. The primary difference between FBS and FCS Football is how the championship is played.

FBS Football has bowl games (hence, “Bowl Subdivision”). In the current version of this format, 2 of the New Years Six Bowls (rotating) are semifinal games between the top 4 college football teams, and then the two winners of those championship games go on to play the championship game, run by ESPN.

Appalachian State, at the time, a subdivision 1-AA team, upsets Michigan, a subdivision 1-A team
Appalachian State, at the time, a subdivision 1-AA team, upsets Michigan, a 1-A team

FCS stands for “Football Championship Subdivision”. In FCS Football, the top 24 FCS Subdivision teams play in a bracket style tournament for the NCAA Championship trophy.

Fun fact – this is the highest level college football championship awarded by the NCAA itself. The ESPN College Football Championship Game is what is almost always used to designate the NCAA champion, but there are technically other championship selectors that could make multiple different teams count as National Champions. For an example of this, see UCF in 2017, in which they were awarded National Champions by the Colley Matrix, even though Alabama won the National Championship game – most everyone refers to Alabama as the champions that year, but UCF technically has a rightful claim.

Another significant difference between the two subdivision is that FBS teams can award 85 football scholarships while FCS teams can only award 63. This contributes to FBS college football teams having an elevated standard of play, but the main driver between the increased competitive level of these schools is that the best conferences in the country form the Football Bowl Subdivision.

north dakota state what is fcs football
North Dakota State, perennial FCS Champions

The subdivision split traces its roots to 1978, when Division 1 football was split into two subdivisions, 1-A and 1-AA. The main driver of this split was that the smaller D1 schools couldn’t keep up with the largely developed football programs of the largest D1 schools. This is similar to “mid majors” vs Power Conference basketball teams in College Basketball. In 2006, these two subdivisions were given the FBS and FCS names they hold today.

Though FBS is technically the higher level of play, FCS football is spectacular to watch. The large tournament system for the championship is extremely exciting and may even reflect the future state of the FBS playoff. Here at CFB Select, we love college football of all kinds – bookmark our site and follow us at @CFBSelect on Twitter if you do too!

Best Helmets of the CFB Season So Far:

Football is about a lot of things. Teamwork. Strength. Strategy. But one thing is more important than all: cool helmets. That’s right. It’s great when we see a flashy one handed catch, or a 99-yard kick return, but we all know the reason we tune in every Saturday is to see some dope domes, right?

Okay, maybe not, but we’re still going to make a list of our favorites anyway.

4. Florida State

Image Courtesy of @safid_deen on Twitter

Although the teams performance may not have been as spectacular, these helmets shone during the Seminole’s Monday night match up against Virginia Tech. Or, didn’t shine, because they were matte black. Huge props to the equipment crew; the garnet/black gradient on the helmet was just perfect.¬†These lids capped off a slick black uniform that I was a huge fan of, although many FSU fans believed it cursed the team.

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3. Duke

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Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Duke brought back the script helmets that have been featured against UNC and against NIU in the Quick Lane bowl. I can’t get enough of them – in fact I’d be happy if Duke switched to this look full time. After all, Duke used this look from 1978-2003. The chrome lettering looked especially great against the all blue base of the uniform.

2. Hawaii

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Image Courtesy of sbnation.com

Hurricane Lane devastated the Hawaiian islands prior to their first match up against Colorado State, leaving many without power or worse. Hawaii turned this into a rallying cry and paid homage with these beautiful island decals on a black base helmet. Not only did these lids carry significant meaning for the players and their people, but they looked incredible. Even better, Hawaii won the game in a major upset – and haven’t lost since.

1. Tulane

Image Courtesy of @uniswag on Twitter

No other equipment team stood a chance when these bad boys were released. C’mon, what’s not to love about Angry Wave? Tulane has sported similar helmets before, but this was the first with the light blue face mask which really makes the accents on Angry Wave pop. Plus, these domes went with a beautiful blue uniform for the Green Wave.

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Image Courtesy of AmericanAthleticConf on YouTube

Will anyone be able to beat Tulane’s helmet this season? Is there another team that should’ve made this list? Let us know in the comments below!