Admit it. You figure Portland State is from Oregon, but you don't really know, do you? And you're not sure why TCU is hosting the Vikings, a Football Championship Subdivision school, at 1 p.m. today at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
You're probably not alone, and similar confusion occurs at football stadiums all over the country. Of the 25 teams ranked in the USA Today coaches' poll, 21 have scheduled an FCS opponent in the past two seasons. The four who haven't are Boise State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.
No. 20 TCU was stuck reshuffling its schedule last winter when Texas Tech announced it no longer wanted to play at TCU on Sept. 17. So the Horned Frogs scheduled Louisiana-Monroe. Then, when the Mountain West moved the Frogs' date with Boise State from Fort Worth to Idaho, the Frogs were left scrambling to find another home game to fill out their schedule.
Not many teams, especially Football Bowl Subdivision teams, have dates available six months before the season is to begin. Most schools have tentative nonconference schedules set three or four years out.
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So TCU will pay Portland State $350,000 for the trouble, which is a nice receipt to have on the books when your 2009 football budget was $3.3 million. That's just a little more than Gary Patterson's annual salary. And dwarfed by TCU's football budget from the same period: $20.6 million.
Last year, TCU had no problem with FCS Tennessee Tech, even if some Frogs had one eye looking ahead to rival games with Baylor and SMU the following weeks. An FCS foe probably won't be a problem this year, either, even with SMU coming to Fort Worth next Saturday.
"You have to be careful," Patterson said. "[Vikings' league mate] Sacramento State beat Oregon State a couple weeks ago. Sac State barely beat Portland State at the end of last season."
But Patterson knows TCU should walk away with a win today. FCS schools are allowed 63 scholarships, 22 fewer than FBS schools. James Madison is the only FCS team to beat a FBS team in the last two years, defeating Virginia Tech in 2010.
Portland State (2-0) is 2-26 all-time against FBS schools, including losses at Arizona State and Oregon last year. The two wins came against Hawaii (2000) and New Mexico (2006). But financial gains outweigh the losses on the field for some FCS teams, such as Missouri State, which opened at Arkansas and played at Oregon last week. Oregon paid Missouri State $440,000 and Arkansas shelled out $395,000, Oregon's Register-Guard reported.
Patterson remained respectful of Portland State, which finished 2-9 last season, and FCS athletes in general. He pointed out that FCS schools can take FBS transfers without the athlete sitting out a year, which is the case when an athlete wants to transfer between FBS schools. Portland State's roster has 10 players from programs such as Boise State and Washington and three from Oregon State.
"So they can get better quick," Patterson said. "Maybe 10 to 15 years ago there was a big difference as far as the athletic level, but now there is not as much difference in athletic level between those situations. You better get ready to play every week."
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760