Paycheck games aren’t helping Illini

Paycheck games are stupid.

A paycheck game is when an FBS team pays an FCS team to come play at its stadium, basically creating an easy victory for the FBS team.

As with many matchups of the like, Charleston Southern’s trip to Champaign has Illinois fans asking, “Who are the Illini playing, again?”

This Saturday makes it seven years in a row the Illini have played an FCS team during the regular season, and as I’m sure you could assume, Illinois is 11-0 all-time in those games.

In each of the last two seasons, the Illini finished the regular season with 6-6 records and went on to play in a bowl game.

One victory from each of those 6-6 seasons came against an FCS opponent ? 35-3 over Southern Illinois in 2010 and 56-3 over South Dakota State in 2011.

Illinois is also scheduled to play the Salukis again in 2013, Youngstown State in 2014 and Western Illinois in 2015.

According to the USA Today, “Michigan paid Delaware State”:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2009-09-02-smallschool_payoffs_N.htm $550,000 in 2009 to basically forfeit a conference game to play the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. That payday was equivalent to two seasons’ worth of football revenue that Delaware State dispersed throughout the rest of its athletic department, according to that same article.

If you’re an FCS school and can generate an astronomical amount of revenue for one measly road trip, you’d be stupid not to go.

This doesn’t affect the Michigans and Alabamas of the world because those are the same teams that tend to win more than six games each season.

As far as Illinois is concerned, until it can win six games against FBS-level competition ? something the Illini have only done once in the last 10 years (2007 Rose Bowl season) — they should keep FCS opponents off the schedule.

At the same time, Illinois would be stupid to do that as long as the NCAA keeps the current bowl eligibility requirement of six wins in place.

To put the past two seasons in perspective, the 2010 victory over “Southern Illinois”:https://www.dailyillini.com/article/2010/09/illini_down_salukis_353_for_1st_win_of_season took the place of close losses at Michigan and at Fresno State, as well as the embarrassing loss at home to Minnesota. For 2011, the lopsided win against “South Dakota State”:https://www.dailyillini.com/article/2011/09/illini_football_rolls_past_south_dakota_state_563 helped relieve the Illini in their 0-6 finish to the season, which was capped off with another embarrassing loss to Minnesota.

What the NCAA should do is change the eligibility requirement to six victories over FBS opponents.

That would thin out the list of bowl-eligible teams and further validate the teams that qualified for the postseason with wins over stronger opponents.

Until that’s done, paycheck games will continue to happen, as these agreements benefit both parties involved.

What doesn’t make sense is how head coaches react when they are asked about the lesser competition they’ll face in the FCS opponent.

“Why? Why would you do that?” head coach Tim Beckman said when asked if the Illini would play more conservatively against Charleston Southern. “We’ve got to get better as a team, so we’re going to do what we need to do to be successful and help ourselves achieve those things. We’re not to that level yet.”

They should really be outraged that they are in a meaningless game that their players can get injured in. Not to mention the dip in ticket sales and the overall boredom fans have to stomach.

The victory FBS schools record does little for their program. If it makes the news, then something went wrong. “Ask Michigan”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOF6-GScIGo or Colorado what that’s like.

If the Illini scheduled opponents to actually better themselves, fans wouldn’t need to research their opponent to find out that Charleston Southern hasn’t won a game since Nov. 13, 2010.

_Dan is a senior in Media. You can reach him at [email protected] and @WELINandDEALIN._