There are around 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States that have sports programs. Out of a thousand there are 123 that have college football in the FBS Division I. The UTEP Miners are part of that 123. It’s a pretty rarefied and prestigious group (as far as college football goes). BUT…UTEP is consistently in the bottom 30 in college rankings. This year, CBS Sports ranked them dead last.

Last Saturday, the Miners opened their season…WITH A WIN! UTEP won at home over Stephen F. Austin 24-14!

Stephen F. Austin is an NCAA Division One school. But, they are in the FCS which is considered a step down from the FBS. But, UTEP beat them and, according to people at the game, everyone seemed happy! So here’s the crazy, possibly naïve question I posed today: What if UTEP considered dropping down to FCS? Maybe instead of being on the bottom rung, the Miners could be near the top. Or, at least the middle. Would that be so bad?

There were many opinions that were aired, for and against. Here are the Pros and Cons.

PRO: The Miners would be more competitive against FCS teams.

CON: They’d cease to attract top tier talent by being in a lesser league.

PRO: They don’t attract top tier talent NOW.

CON: Sometimes they do. Hometown hero Aaron Jones probably wouldn’t have come to UTEP if they were in the FCS.

PRO: People would rather see their team win than lose.

CON: FEWER fans would actually attend games if they were in the FCS.

PRO: How do you know?

CON: Because it’s a step down. Fans want to see their team in the highest level of competition.

PRO: What about the El Paso Chihuahuas? They play a step down from the Majors and El Paso loves them!

CON: The Chihuahuas only draw about 6,500 fans a game.

PRO: THAT’S WHAT THE MINERS DRAW NOW! Also, the Miners only have 6 home games. The Chihuahuas have 70.

CON: UTEP needs the money their football program brings in.

PRO: Out of 1,000 colleges with sports programs only 20 turn a profit. 20. And that’s according to the NCAA itself.

CON: UTEP Football gets huge paydays when they go and play against elite, Top Twenty programs.

PRO: They could STILL do that even if they were in the FCS.

CON: If the football program drops down to FCS the basketball program would too.

PRO: That’s not necessarily true! There are a few work-arounds that are doable.

This could go on forever (and has).

What do you think? Would fans be more or less likely to go to games if the Miners were playing in the FCS instead of the FBS? It kind of feels like we already are in a lower class, considering how far UTEP’s program is from Alabama or Clemson (or even Arkansas –currently the whipping boy of the SEC who would STILL beat UTEP by 35). Nobody seriously considers UTEP to be in the same class as LSU or Oklahoma (in football that is, not necessarily academically). We’ve been in the cellar so long maybe it’s time to face reality.

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