One of the challenges I face in editing a printed yearbook is in making sure we’re consistent across all 128 pages regarding the terms we use to describe all things college football. For example, articles need to contain consisten references to conferences (Big 12, not Big Twelve or Big XII), player positions, (outside linebacker, not "Will" linebacker), or any one of the 23 different coach titles currently being used (assistant/associate/co-head coach).
However, one set of terms I found particularly frustrating are the current college football classifications, whether to use FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) versus the old division designations of IA and IAA.
I admit to some confusion about which to use, or, more accurately, worried about the confusion either designation will create amongst the book’s readership. What I wanted to use was something that would include both designations to alleviate that confusion. Here’s an example, straight of the draft opponent preview about Kansas State:
"Kansas State is the only program in the Big 12 that will play two FCS (Div I-AA) programs in 2009."
It’s not going to pass the publisher like that, because the official moniker when describing former Division I-AA schools is FCS. Former Division I-A schools are now FBS. The name changes were put in place in December, 2006, and I still have to stop every time I read "FBS" in an article and wonder what the hell they're talking about. I wonder if others have the same problem.
The NCAA made the name change because there was too much confusion between the different ranks and.... oh, hell, here's the official explanation:
The I-A, I-AA and I-AAA designations were confusing and as result, misapplied by college football fans and the media when referring not only to football programs (e.g., I-AA basketball). And because of greater awareness of specific conferences and schools,the I-A label was rarely emphasized by the I-A membership, which only caused greater confusion about the I-AA classification.
This initiative, voted into effect by the presidents and chancellors who comprise the NCAA Division I Board of Directors last August, is not intended to confuse or devalue the importance of the BCS format.
These labels communicate in a positive and clear way about the differences between the Division I football classifications, chiefly the postseason opportunity, while still defining them within the Division I experience. The name change also clearly defines the student-athlete experience. Rather than being incorrectly referred to by a football classification, they’ll simply be a Division I student- athlete.
It actually makes sense, it's just confusing as is everything else NCAA. Athletes from smaller football schools get to use the "Championship" moniker, the basketball players can all refer to themselves as Division I athletes which makes them all shiny happy people. Of course, the smaller schools don't get any more money, so this can be compared to your boss giving you a "promotion" with a new title, more responsibilities but not a raise, then patting you on the head and saying "Congratulations, new Director of Ditching Digging Johnston!" as he hands you a shovel for each hand.
Whatever the reasoning was, I still don't like it. Maybe it's because, as my kids say, I'm an "oldie" (I turn 47 this week), and old people don't like change (as if young people are any better with it). Maybe it's because I feel it was a name change for the sake of a name change and served no real purpose other than to confuse people.
Taking a cue from "They Might Be Giants" - how long do you suppose it was before people started calling the city "Instanbul" and not "Constantinople"? Or "New York" instead of "New Amsterdam"? And do people really like it better this way?