Few Games, but Very Little FOMO, in College Football’s Less Glamorous Tier

“We made the right call based on the information and data we had, and the projections we had for the future,” said Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the MEAC, whose membership includes Florida A&M and Howard. “It has come to fruition that it was the right call. There are games that are still being canceled, that are still being rearranged each week.”

Although not playing may assuage administrators about testing and budgets, they know that the greatest factor in cultivating peace among players and coaches — and avoiding the Big Ten-style clamor for abrupt policy reversals — was probably the N.C.A.A.’s decision to move the F.C.S. tournament to the spring. Although the governing body of most college sports said that fall games would be “considered” when officials set a winnowed 16-team bracket, many programs believed they would be better positioned to compete if they concentrated on a spring schedule.

“If our playoffs were in December and January, we’d have the same set of pressures to do something different,” said Viverito, the vice chairwoman of the N.C.A.A.’s influential Football Oversight Committee.

Instead, she said, “the minute that the N.C.A.A. decided to move fall championships to the spring, our decision was self-evident: We were going to move our season to where we had the best opportunity to win a national championship.”

Still, there have been bubbling signs of dissent and disappointment, particularly among players, as they watched other schools gear up to play.

A troubling part for Michael Gerace, an offensive lineman for Maine, is that the team could be playing right now. “But at the end of the day,” he said last month, according to The Bangor Daily News, “the administration is making decisions in order to keep us safe.”

Some F.C.S. schools have chosen to play this fall, oftentimes against nonconference opponents. In the Southland Conference, which is based in Texas, four members — Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist and Stephen F. Austin — opted out of the league’s plan to compete in the spring and instead chose to play exclusively this fall. So far, as seven of their conference counterparts wait for 2021, their collective record stands at 2-8.

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