Kennesaw State Fall 2023 Calendar – By Matthew Dixon January 15, 2022 Brian Bohannon , College Football Makeover , College Sports Makeover , Kennesaw State Owls , Makeover
While the dust hasn’t settled from the latest reorientation changes, that’s not stopping us from watching the next round. After all, some conferences may still want to expand further to bolster their membership or maintain NCAA postseason automatic qualification status in the bottom division of Division 1.
Kennesaw State Fall 2023 Calendar
We examine the case for the Kennesaw State Owls football program to move between divisions, evaluating the pros and cons. We’ll start with a little background, but before we get to that, an important disclaimer: this is pure speculation and not based on inside information. We are writing this article simply as an exercise for a recent FCS recruit who has shown success on the field. Now let’s move on to some Kennesaw State football history.
Georgia Science Teachers Association
Kennesaw State football is a relatively new addition to the college football scene, receiving official approval in February 2013. The goal is to play its first football season in 2015 as an FCS team. The Owls ended up joining the Big South Conference in September 2013 because the home of their other sports – ASUN – did not sponsor football at the time. ASUN will begin sponsoring football in 2022, and Kennesaw State will move its football program to ASUN.
The football program got off to a good start in 2015 compared to some teams in the Big South. In their first season, they went 6-5 against the likes of Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina and Liberty, despite only winning three games from Division I competition. Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina made the 2015 FCS playoffs with CSU.
In 2016, KSU improved to 8-3 overall as Charleston Southern once again won the Big South and made the FCS playoffs. Kennesaw State’s improvement was a precursor to what they were to achieve.
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In 2017, KSU lost its season opener to Samford 28-23, then went on a 12-game winning streak before falling in the FCS quarterfinals with a 34-27 loss to Sam Houston State. The Owls swept the Big South, finishing No. 8 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll, and head coach Brian Bohannon was named the AFCA Coach of the Year.
2018 was just a carbon copy of 2017 for the Owls. They lost the season opener at Georgia State 24-20, then won 12 straight to win the Big South again. The streak ended in the FCS quarterfinals, though this time it was at home against South Dakota State, 27-17. KSU was ranked 5th in the STATS Top 25 and 4th in the 2018 Postseason Coaches Poll.
In 2019, Kennesaw State took a relative step back. They lost two regular season games, including one to Monmouth in the Big South. The loss cost them the Big South title, but the Owls still earned a seed for the FCS playoffs. They lost in the second round on the road to Weber State 26-20 and finished 11-3.
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The 2020 season was impacted by COVID-19, leading to the FCS spring season. The Owls started 4-0 and faced Monmouth in the regular season finale, with the winner earning the Big South’s automatic berth in the FCS playoffs. Monmouth beat the Owls 42-17, and Kennesaw State didn’t receive an at-large bid. It was the first time the Owls missed the FCS playoffs since 2016.
Kennesaw State bounced back in 2021 with excellent regular season and playoff appearances. They lost the second game to Georgia Tech 45-17, but won 9 straight to go 10-1 and win the Big South crown. The Owls were forced to play in the opening round and ran over Davidson for a 48-21 victory. In a second-round matchup at East Tennessee State, they took a 31-17 lead with 90 seconds left, but gave up two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to fall 32-31 in a spectacular collapse.
As previously mentioned, Kennesaw State will move its football team to ASUN beginning in the 2022 season. That would put them in a conference with Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State and North Alabama. Jacksonville State will play just one season of ASUN football before moving to the FBS and Conference USA.
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The Owls have been to the FCS playoffs four times in the past five seasons, with two quarterfinal appearances. They were also the top team in the Big South, finishing no worse than second in the past five years. The chart below shows how Kennesaw State has fared in the Big South and FCS playoffs since the 2015 preseason.
It’s worth taking a moment to discuss what ASUN football membership will look like in the next few years. As previously mentioned, the ASUN will have 6 members in 2022, which is the minimum required to receive an automatic FCS Playoff-eligible bid. Jacksonville State will go to C-USA in 2023. Below is a map showing ASUN’s football programs with Jacksonville State in yellow.
When the 2023 season begins, ASUN will need replacement Jacksonville State to maintain at least 6 eligible football players to maintain AQ status. It might seem like a given that ASUN would find another football member, but the conference took a big hit with Liberty’s departure, as Liberty’s athletics were an attractive feature of the conference. The competition at the FCS level between the ASUN, MEAC, OVC and Southland to find new football members is intensifying and this issue is worth mentioning if current ASUN members start to worry about the stability of football membership.
Open House Information
The first reason to think that a move to the FBS could eventually be in the cards is that the university has a proven track record of upside. The Owls established an athletic division at the NAIA level in 1984, then moved to Division II beginning in the 1995 season. A ten-year member of D2, the Owls moved up again, this time to Division I in 2005. It is logical to think that KSU could continue its rise by moving to the FBS at some point in the future. However, previous decisions do not guarantee that the same will happen in the future.
Another reason for Kennesaw State’s jump to the FBS is its location. In 2018, we had an article looking at teams moving from the FCS to the FBS. One thing about that article? The most recent FBS teams have been located largely in the Southeast, one of the most popular college football regions in the United States.
Finally, there is a significant student population that helps support the transition to FBS. Kennesaw State has about 43,000 students, triple the number since 1990. Combine that with the population movement in the southern US in addition to the area’s football popularity, and on paper there are plenty of reasons to move to the FBS.
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Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons for the upside, there are some downsides to a hypothetical FBS move to discuss.
The transition from FCS to FBS is not always the utopia that athletes dream of. One of the biggest expenses when switching to FBS is upgrading facilities. For Kennesaw State, they’re new enough to the point that it’s not much of an issue except for one big component: the stadium.
The Owls play at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, which has a maximum capacity of 8,300. FBS teams are required to have at least 15,000 in attendance at least once every two years (page 424). Doubling the capacity of the stadium would be quite an expense if hardly any schools could meet the requirements. KSU could decide to expand the expansion even further to allow for a larger number of participants.
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Let’s use some recent examples from FCS to FBS to get a rough estimate of these costs. Coastal Carolina spent $32 million to expand from a 9,200-seat stadium to 18,000 in 2016. The Liberty expanded from 12,000 to 19,000 in 2010 for $22 million. Allowing for inflation, it’s not hard to see Kennesaw State taking a $30-$35 million drop to double capacity to meet FBS requirements.
One solution, although highly unlikely, is to move some or all of the home games to Atlanta to get the 15,000 students. The problem with this scenario is that downtown Atlanta is about 25 miles from campus, which begs the question of how many students want