I know many have been wondering what's going on with the discussions on JSU's supposed move to the FBS ranks. GamecockIllustrated.com had a chance to talk with JSU's Athletic Director, Warren Koegel, regarding the current status of where we're headed and what kind of new information JSU fans would be curious about.
In terms of going into the FBS, Koegel said that there were several factors that JSU is currently working on; raising money, upgrading facilities, and creating more marketing and promotions to get alumni back on campus. He and Dr. Meehan talk on a daily basis regarding the possible FBS move. He also said that with recent institution's decisions to stay FCS, that JSU, if invited, wouldn't necessarily pass up the opportunity. Koegel also said JSU is currently "talking to everybody", meaning institutions and conferences that are looking to go to the FBS or looking at FCS schools to move up, so JSU can make the best decision on its direction. Makes sense, right? Why wouldn't JSU be talking to other FCS schools regarding an Eastern WAC division or any other conference? It's very possible there is an alliance being built for these schools to move up together, via the WAC. Koegel wouldn't confirm or deny the possibility, understandably so. That would make a very interesting and competitive conference to the Sun Belt, MAC, and C-USA, but most of those fans believe otherwise. The NCAA would have to grant a waiver to the WAC just to stay alive. We've all heard the discussions regarding the WAC and how they may add several eastern FCS schools to their conference. We've also heard that the Sun Belt will not be adding any additional schools to their mix. That info came out this week as SBC commissioner, Karl Benson, made the announcement during the SBC annual meeting in Destin, FL.
JSU is moving ahead with upgrading the facilities to make it FBS ready if an invite were to come in the near future. According to Koegel, it could be as early as two weeks or even longer before JSU is in any position make an announcement. JSU is currently upgrading the softball and tennis facilities, but Koegel did state that upgrading The Pete was his "#1 priority." JSU is working on plans to make this happen in the near future. The baseball complex also needed to be upgraded. Both facilities will need redesigned seating, restrooms, audio and video systems, and concessions, but the The Pete will obviously be more costly and complex.
FBS status will also give JSU availability to more quality athletes. Koegel recognizes that we have some great athletes here at JSU, but when you only give 63 full football scholarships, compared to the FBS limit of 85, you limit the talent you can bring on campus. Obviously, this factor will increase the talent level at JSU. (Note: Troy fans don't take this into consideration when they most recently beat JSU. Troy wants no part of JSU in the Sun Belt and will do everything to keep us out).
Koegel realizes that JSU must also get more Alumni back on campus. JSU must create more marketing promotions and events to enhance the fundraising. Alumni will give, but they'll only give if they have something to give for. Koegel knows this. He was appreciative of so many JSU fans bringing up the tailgating issue, merchandise issue, and the JSU awareness issue. Koegel said that JSU has hired a new ticket management company, which was the reason why we haven't seen the 2012 options yet. That should be available within the next couple weeks, and JSU fans will have more options for purchasing tickets.
It has been interesting the last few weeks with all the realignment, and it is surely to get even more interesting with the new 10 year moratorium being discussed. The WAC will definitely have to move quickly with that moves for approval. We'll keep you updated as we get the information, but please let us know your opinion on this.