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Duke's FCS Mess Of 2009

The Duke message boards have been abuzz for the past few weeks about the Blue Devils filling their schedule with N.C. Central, a Division I-AA FCS squad. The only problem with Duke hosting its cross-town rival? The Eagles are the second FCS opponent on the schedule (Richmond is the other), which means that Duke would have to win seven games to be bowl-eligible for next year. That could prove troublesome for a team that hasn't won more than six since 1994.

A Duke fan asked ESPN's ACC blogger Heather Dinich why any team would make the mistake of scheduling two FCS teams, as Florida State also did last year. A part of Dinich's response:

First of all, none of the ACC schools do it intentionally. Those that have had to—Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech last season—have vowed to take steps to try to prevent it from happening again in the future. Sometimes, though, there aren't many other options, and it all goes back to the business of college football.

A second FCS school is usually added to the schedule after a potential opponent backs out late in the scheduling process because they are "bought out" of the contract to play somewhere else for more money. By the time that happens, there are usually only a few FBS schools left to choose from that can travel. If they can travel, their asking price might be higher than what the ACC school is willing to pay.

That's when an athletic director has to decide whether to:

a) Pay a game fee for a home game that they really can't afford

b) Consider playing an additional road game which costs money and is harder to win

c) Consider playing two FCS schools, despite the fact fans won't be thrilled and it doesn't count toward bowl eligibility

So how did Duke get into this mess? It's a story some of you might remember. You may have received some forwarded e-mails last year from friends teasing you that Duke was now legally the worst team in the country, the argument the University's lawyers made to get out of a four-game contract with Louisville after playing just one game. One statute of the deal was for the Blue Devils to find a "team of similar stature," which, Duke's lawyers effectively argued, could be anyone else.

Losing the game against the Cardinals, though, put the Blue Devils in a bind similar to the one Dinich describes.

Before the game against Central becomes official, though, what would you do if you were David Cutcliffe: Option A, B or C?

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