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College Football

Five biggest story lines of the FCS offseason

By CRAIG HALEY

Stats Perform FCS Senior Editor

(Stats Perform) - Football is a 24/7/365 sport, so people are talking about it even when games aren't being played.

Unfortunately in 2020, the big talk in the offseason revolves around the uncertainty of the upcoming season.

July's arrival usually signals a green light for football, but we've been blinking red for much of the offseason. During that time, here are the five biggest story lines:

5. FCS Endures Worst NFL Draft

For the second straight year, the number of FCS players selected in the NFL Draft were the lowest ever. This year, it was downright awful, dropping to six from 13 in 2019. A huge factor was the canceling of most pro days due to COVID-19, which robbed small-school players of performing in front of scouts. Some good news: The two teams that selected FCS players on the second of the three-day draft thought they were worth trading up for: Southern Illinois strong safety Jeremy Chinn (Carolina Panthers, No. 64 overall in second round) and Dayton tight end Adam Trautman (New Orleans Saints, No. 105 in third round).

Said small-school draft expert Josh Buchanan: "It is still too early, but if we see single-digit FCS draftees in 2021, we know the (NCAA) transfer portal and early entries are the cause."

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4. Trey Lance Hype Machine

In an offseason of mostly negative news, North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance has been a stellar example of what's great in the FCS. The most outstanding player of the Bison's 2019 national championship game win and the first freshman to receive the Stats Perform Walter Payton Award as the FCS offensive player of the year, he's been touted as a 2021 first-round prospect by numerous NFL draft analysts. Lance will be eligible following his redshirt sophomore year and has the athleticism, strong, accurate arm and football IQ that are in demand at the next level.

Said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.: "I put him around that 15, 16 mark, but he could ascend higher and make it a three-horse race (of quarterbacks with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields) at the top."

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3. MEAC Falling Apart

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference lost Hampton to the Big South Conference in 2018 and Savannah State in a return to Division II last year, but the hits have snowballed this offseason. In February, North Carolina A&T announced a 2021 move to the Big South, which will rob the MEAC of the pre-eminent HBCU power (the Celebration Bowl champion in four of the first five years of that postseason game). In early June, Florida A&M announced a 2021 move to the Southwestern Athletic Conference - the MEAC's rival conference - before Bethune-Cookman did the same later in the month. The MEAC had 11 teams as recently as the 2017 season, but will have six in 2021.

Said Dr. Dennis Thomas, the MEAC commissioner: "I would like to think that we will solidify our standing with the remaining members. I have no doubt in our minds that the MEAC will continue to sustain itself but also get better as a conference."

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2. Grad Transfers Galore

The exodus of FCS players to FBS programs through grad transfers has grown to an almost unfathomable level - more than 40 players who will complete their eligibility at the higher level. The list has included players from most FCS conferences, most notably All-Americans such as North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox (LSU), Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson (Washington) and Wofford center Blake Jeresaty (Illinois).

Said Rhode Island coach Jim Fleming on the grad transfer rule, enacted by the NCAA in 2013: "It's now turned a little bit opposite on the FCS because it gives the (FBS schools) opportunities to scout and identify prospects that they would take into their program."

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1. COVID-19

Coronavirus has consumed the globe and changed life as we know it. It's threatening the 2020 college football season, having already canceled most spring practices and shut down campuses. Positive tests are on the rise in a number of states, including with student-athletes returning to campuses for voluntary workouts, and some schools are determining whether to have a full, partial or no season, or shift to the spring. If/when games are played, it may or may not be in front of fans. In short, how to have a season feels elusive.

Said Patty Viverito, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Pioneer Football League: "I think we're going to start the season. I think interruptions are inevitable. And I hope to God we finish the season."

Updated July 1, 2020

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Teams Score Time
NHL
Bruins   12:00pm
Hurricanes  
Teams Score Time
Interleague
Nationals 15 F
Orioles 3
Cardinals   Postponed
White Sox  
Rangers 3 F
Rockies 2
Dodgers 7 F
Angels 4
Athletics 8 F
Giants 7
Cardinals   1:10pm
White Sox  
Cardinals   4:10pm
White Sox  
Athletics   7:07pm
Giants  
Nationals   7:35pm
Orioles  
Rangers   8:10pm
Rockies  
Dodgers   9:40pm
Angels  
American League
Rays 4 F
Blue Jays 12
Red Sox 3 F
Yankees 10
Indians 10 F
Tigers 5
Royals 0 Postponed
Twins 0
Mariners 1 F
Astros 11
Royals   1:35pm
Twins  
Royals   4:35pm
Twins  
Indians   6:10pm
Tigers  
Rays   6:37pm
Blue Jays  
Red Sox   7:07pm
Yankees  
Mariners   7:10pm
Astros  
National League
Mets 5 F
Phillies 6
Braves 2 F
Marlins 8
Pirates 1 F
Reds 8
Brewers 4 F
Cubs 3
Padres 1 F
Diamondbacks 5
Brewers   3:20pm
Cubs  
Mets   6:05pm
Phillies  
Braves   6:10pm
Marlins  
Pirates   6:10pm
Reds  
Padres   8:10pm
Diamondbacks  
Teams Score Time
Nuggets 109 F
Raptors 117
Heat 92 F
Pacers 109
Thunder 103 F/OT
Clippers 107
76ers 134 F
Rockets 96
Grizzlies   2:30pm
Trail Blazers  
Teams Score Time
Dolphins   Postponed
Falcons  
Bills   Postponed
Ravens  
Buccaneers   Postponed
Steelers  
Texans   Postponed
Vikings  
Saints   Postponed
Rams  
Cardinals   Postponed
Packers  
Browns   Postponed
Bears  
Titans   Postponed
Football Team  
Bengals   Postponed
Chiefs  
49ers   Postponed
Broncos  
Cowboys   Postponed
Chargers  
Teams Score Time
Coyotes 2 F
Avalanche 3
Canadiens 5 F
Flyers 0
Canucks 4 F/OT
Blues 3
Islanders 5 F
Capitals 2
Stars 0 F
Flames 2
Bruins   12:00pm
Hurricanes  
Avalanche   3:00pm
Coyotes  
Lightning   7:30pm
Blue Jackets  
Golden Knights   8:00pm
Blackhawks  
Wyndham Championship
Pos Name Score Thru
1 Talor Gooch -10 1:35pm
1 Tom Hoge -10 9:00am
1 Billy Horschel -10 8:50am
1 Si Woo Kim -10 9:00am
5 Harris English -9 8:50am
5 Andrew Landry -9 8:40am
5 Shane Lowry -9 8:50am
5 Doc Redman -9 8:20am
5 Harold Varner -9 8:40am
NASCAR CUP SERIES AT MICHIGAN
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 4 Kevin Harvick 20
2 11 Denny Hamlin 15
3 19 Martin Truex Jr 18
4 18 Kyle Busch 16
5 22 Joey Logano 13
6 10 Aric Almirola 5
7 21 Matt Dibenedetto 6
8 3 Austin Dillon 31
9 9 Chase Elliott 14
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT ROAD AMERICA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 22 Austin Cindric 2
2 16 AJ Allmendinger 33
3 98 Chase Briscoe 7
4 21 Kaz Grala 6
5 02 Andy Lally 23
6 9 Noah Gragson 9
7 10 Ross Chastain 11
8 36 Preston Pardus 37
9 39 Ryan Sieg 16
NASCAR GANDER RV & OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT MICHIGAN
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 21 Zane Smith 7
2 18 Christian Eckes 3
3 15 Tanner Gray 16
4 26 Tyler Ankrum 14
5 38 Todd Gilliland 19
6 23 Brett Moffitt 2
7 4 Raphael Lessard 11
8 19 Derek Kraus 9
9 75 Parker Kligerman 35