|2016 NCAA Division I FCS season|
|Number of teams||125|
|Duration||August 26 – December 3|
|Payton Award||Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State|
|Buchanan Award||Karter Schult, Northern Iowa|
|Duration||November 26 – December 17|
|Championship date||January 7, 2017|
|Championship site||Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas|
|NCAA Division I FCS football seasons|
The 2016 NCAA Division I FCS football season, part of college football in the United States, was organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. The FCS Championship Game was played on January 7, 2017, in Frisco, Texas. The James Madison Dukes defeated the Youngstown State Penguins, 28–14, to capture their second National Championship in team history.
The following rule changes were voted on by the NCAA Football Rules Committee for the 2016 season:
- Requiring replay officials to review all aspects of targeting penalties, including the option to call a targeting foul missed by the on-field officials if the foul is deemed egregious.
- Allowing electronic devices to be used for coaching purposes in the press box and locker room during the game. Electronic devices will still be prohibited on the field and sideline.
- Coaches can now be ejected after receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one game, the same as players.
- A ball carrier who "gives himself up" (e.g., by sliding) will now be considered a defenseless player.
- Deliberate tripping of a ball carrier with the leg is now a penalty (15 yards for tripping).
- Players who leave the tackle box are now prohibited from blocking below the waist toward the initial position of the ball.
- An exception to a rule introduced for the 2015 season regarding low hits to passers (i.e., at or below the knee) was eliminated. Last season, a defensive player would not have been penalized for such a hit if making a bona fide attempt at a tackle, but will now be penalized in the same situation.
- Teams attempting a scrimmage kick (field goals/PATs/punts) must have five offensive linemen (numbered 50–79) on the scrimmage line unless the kicking team has at least two players seven yards OR one player at least 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Previously only one player had to be lined up seven yards behind the line to avoid using five linemen, causing confusion in kick coverage on defense.
The committee, once again, took no action on changing the ineligible receiver downfield rule from three yards to one yard; however it will once again be a "point of emphasis" and will adjust officiating mechanics to better officiate those plays.
In addition to the above changes, the NCAA approved an experimental rule on kickoffs and touchbacks to be used this season by the Ivy League in conference games only. In those games, kickoffs were taken from the 40-yard line instead of the 35, and touchbacks were brought back to the 20-yard line instead of the 25. The Ivies proposed the experiment in the interest of player safety, believing that increasing the frequency of touchbacks would reduce injury risk from kick returns. The Ivies were scheduled to report the results of the experiment to the NCAA in February 2017.
Conference changes and new programs
|School||Former conference||New conference|
|Coastal Carolina||Big South||FCS independent|
|East Tennessee State||FCS independent||SoCon|
- January 29 – East Tennessee State and Bristol Motor Speedway announced that the Buccaneers' September 17 home game against Western Carolina, which would be ETSU's first Southern Conference game after a 12-season absence, would be played at the NASCAR racetrack. The playing surface was a temporary fieldturf field installed for the Tennessee–Virginia Tech game held one week earlier.
- April 20 – The NCAA banned five schools from this year's postseason for failure to meet Academic Progress Rate criteria. They are Florida A&M, Howard, Morgan State, Savannah State and Southern.
- April 28 – Following the March 1 announcement by the Sun Belt Conference that it would not renew its football-only membership agreements with Idaho and New Mexico State when they expire at the end of the 2017 season, Idaho announced that it would return to FCS football in its all-sports league, the Big Sky Conference, in 2018. The Vandals will become the first team ever to voluntarily drop from FBS to FCS.
- September 13 – The Big South Conference and the Division I non-football ASUN Conference announce a football partnership. Under its terms, any current or future member of either conference, as long as it lies within the general geographic footprint of the two leagues, that adds football or upgrades from non-scholarship to scholarship football is automatically entitled to Big South football membership. At the time of agreement, ASUN member Kennesaw State was already a Big South football member, and three other all-sports members of the two leagues played non-scholarship FCS football in the Pioneer Football League.
- November 14 – The Big South announces that Campbell, a full conference member that plays football in the Pioneer League, will upgrade to scholarship football and become a football member in 2018.
- November 19 – Joe Thomas Sr., a 55-year-old walk-on at South Carolina State, appeared for one play in the first quarter of the Bulldogs' season finale against Savannah State, running for 3 yards. Although the NCAA does not keep statistics on player ages, the father of Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas Jr. is believed to be the oldest player ever to take the field in a Division I game.
- December 6 – The University of North Alabama, ASUN, and Big South announce that the Division II Lions will move to Division I and eventually to FCS football. North Alabama will join the ASUN as an all-sports member in 2018, with Big South football membership following in 2019. The Lions will not be eligible for the conference title or the FCS playoffs until the completion of their Division I transition in 2022.
- South Dakota State debuted the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium which seats 19,340. The stadium was half finished for the 2015 season and finished in time for the Luke Bryan concert on September 8, 2016, and the first football game the evening of September 10.
- New Hampshire debuted a major renovation and expansion of the renamed Wildcat Stadium. The venue, previously with a capacity of 6,500, now seats slightly over 11,000.
- William & Mary also debuted a major renovation and expansion to its Zable Stadium, which the saw the addition of an upper deck and an increase in capacity to 12,259.
- Prairie View A&M started its home schedule on September 3, 2016 in the new on-campus 15,000 seat Panther Stadium against Texas Southern.
Two teams played their final season in their then-current venues:
- Abilene Christian left the off-campus Shotwell Stadium after this season for the new on-campus Wildcat Stadium.
- East Tennessee State left local high school venue Kermit Tipton Stadium for a new on-campus William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
FCS team wins over FBS teams
(FCS rankings from the STATS poll)
- September 2:
- September 3:
- September 10:
- September 17:
- #1 North Dakota State 23, No. 13 (FBS) Iowa 21
- NDSU went to No. 13 FBS Ranked Iowa and became just the 4th FCS team to beat an AP ranked FBS team by beating the Hawkeyes on a game-winning field goal 23–21. This was Iowa's first loss to a non FBS opponent. The next day NDSU received 74 votes for the AP top-25 rankings (No. 27 overall), which is the most votes ever received by an FCS team, beating the old record held by North Dakota State in 2013 when they received 17 and were No. 33 after the 2013 season.
- #1 North Dakota State 23, No. 13 (FBS) Iowa 21
- September 24:
|Conference||Champion||Runner-up||Score||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|Tiger Donovan McCray
Other conference winners
Note: Records are regular-season only, and do not include playoff games.
|Conference||Champion||Record||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|Big Sky||Eastern Washington
|Big South||Charleston Southern
|CAA||James Madison||10–1 (8–0)||Bryan Schor
|MEAC||North Carolina Central||9���2 (8–0)||Tarik Cohen
(North Carolina A&T)
(South Carolina State)
(North Carolina Central)
|MVFC||North Dakota State
South Dakota State
(South Dakota State)
(South Dakota State)
Saint Francis (PA)
|OVC||Jacksonville State||10–1 (7–0)||Eli Jenkins
|Patriot||Lehigh||9–2 (6–0)||Nick Shafnisky
|Pioneer||San Diego||9–1 (8–0)||Jonah Hodges
|Southern||The Citadel||10–1 (8–0)||Devlin Hodges
|Southland||Sam Houston State||11–0 (9–0)||Overall: Jeremiah Briscoe
(Sam Houston State)
Offensive: Yedidiah Louis
(Sam Houston State)
|P. J. Hall
(Sam Houston State)
|K. C. Keeler|
(Sam Houston State)
Automatic berths for conference champions
|Big Sky Conference||Eastern Washington||12th||2014||Quarterfinals (L – Illinois State)|
|Big South Conference||Charleston Southern||2nd||2015||Quarterfinals (L – Jacksonville State)|
|Colonial Athletic Association||James Madison||13th||2015||National Champions (W – Youngstown State)|
|Missouri Valley Football Conference||South Dakota State||6th||2015||First Round (L – Montana)|
|Northeast Conference||Saint Francis (PA)||1st||–||–|
|Ohio Valley Conference||Jacksonville State||7th||2015||Championship Game (L – North Dakota State)|
|Patriot League||Lehigh||10th||2011||Quarterfinals (L – North Dakota State)|
|Pioneer Football League||San Diego||2nd||2014||First Round (L – Montana)|
|Southern Conference||The Citadel||5th||2015||Second Round (L – Charleston Southern)|
|Southland Conference||Sam Houston State||10th||2015||Semifinals (L – Jacksonville State)|
At large qualifiers
- Ivy League – Princeton
- Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – North Carolina Central
- Southwestern Athletic Conference – Grambling State
NCAA FCS Playoff bracket
December 9 and 10
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3
December 16 and 17
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
|1||North Dakota State*||45|
|Cal Poly*||21||San Diego||7|
|San Diego||35||1||North Dakota State*||36|
|8||South Dakota State||10|
|8||South Dakota State*||10|
|Saint Francis (PA)||21||1||North Dakota State*||17|
|New Hampshire*||64||New Hampshire||22|
|5||Sam Houston State||7|
|5||Sam Houston State*||41|
|Weber State||14||4||James Madison||28|
|Central Arkansas*||31||Central Arkansas||14|
|Illinois State||24||2||Eastern Washington*||38|
|North Carolina A&T||10||2||Eastern Washington*||38|
|Youngstown State*||38||Youngstown State||40|
|Game||Date/TV||Location||Winning Team||Losing Team||Score||Offensive MVP||Defensive MVP|
|Celebration Bowl||December 17
|North Carolina Central
(RB, Grambling State)
(DB, Grambling State)
Awards and honors
Walter Payton Award
- The Walter Payton Award is given to the year's most outstanding offensive player. Finalists:
Buck Buchanan Award
- The Buck Buchanan Award is given to the year's most outstanding defensive player. Finalists:
Jerry Rice Award
- The Jerry Rice Award is given to the year's most outstanding freshman.
- AFCA Coach of the Year: Mike Houston, James Madison
- Eddie Robinson Award: K. C. Keeler, Sam Houston State
This is restricted to coaching changes that took place on or after May 1, 2016. For coaching changes that occurred earlier in 2016, see 2015 NCAA Division I FCS end-of-season coaching changes.
|Delaware||Dave Brock||October 16||Fired||Dennis Dottin-Carter (interim)|
End of season
|Abilene Christian||Ken Collums||November 20||Fired||Mark Ribaudo (interim)|
|Howard||Gary Harrell||November 20||Contract was not renewed||Mike London |
|Presbyterian||Harold Nichols||November 20||Resigned||Tommy Spangler|
|UC Davis||Ron Gould||November 20||Fired||Dan Hawkins|
|Lamar||Ray Woodard||November 21||Fired||Mike Schultz|
|Bryant||Marty Fine||November 30||Resigned||James Perry|
|Lafayette||Frank Tavani||December 1||Fired||John Garrett|
|Furman||Bruce Fowler||December 2||Resigned||Clay Hendrix|
|Villanova||Andy Talley||December 3||Retired||Mark Ferrante|
|Delaware||Dennis Dottin-Carter (interim)||December 13||Permanent replacement||Danny Rocco|
|Richmond||Danny Rocco||December 13||Hired by Delaware||Russ Huesman|
|Chattanooga||Russ Huesman||December 14||Hired by Richmond||Tom Arth|
|Indiana State||Mike Sanford||December 16||Resigned||Curt Mallory|
|Abilene Christian||Mark Ribaudo (interim)||December 18||Permanent replacement||Adam Dorrel|
|Eastern Washington||Beau Baldwin||January 16||Hired as OC at California||Aaron Best|
- 2016 NCAA Division I FCS football rankings
- 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season
- 2016 NCAA Division II football season
- 2016 NCAA Division III football season
- 2016 NAIA football season
- "Football Rules Committee Approves Proposals to Enhance Player Safety". NCAA. February 11, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Ivy League to move kickoffs to 40-yard line" (Press release). NCAA. July 20, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
- "Coastal Carolina Announces 2016 Football Schedule" (Press release). Coastal Carolina Athletics. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
"This is an important year for our program as we start our transition to the FBS," said fifth-year head coach Joe Moglia. "However, we are still an FCS independent this year and have put together a nationally-competitive schedule to reflect that.
- "ETSU, WCU to Play at Bristol Motor Speedway" (Press release). Southern Conference. January 29, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
- "Sun Belt Football to Be 10 Teams in 2018" (Press release). Sun Belt Conference. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- "UI Moving Football to Big Sky Conference" (Press release). University of Idaho Office of the President. April 28, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Dodd, Dennis (April 27, 2016). "Idaho will become first team to drop from FBS to FCS in 2018". CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- "Big South and ASUN Conference Establish FCS Membership Partnership" (Press release). ASUN Conference. September 13, 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
- "Campbell Football To Join Big South in 2018" (Press release). Big South Conference. November 14, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "Joe Thomas Sr., 55, becomes oldest D-I football player ever to take field". Sports Illustrated. November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- "UNA Accepts ASUN Division I Invitation" (Press release). North Alabama Lions. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "North Alabama To Join Big South Football in 2019" (Press release). Big South Conference. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "New Stadium, Pair of FBS Opponents Highlight 2016 Football Schedule". Prairie View A&M University Athletics. February 4, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "The New Look Panther Stadium". Prairie View A&M University Athletics. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "2016 College Football Rankings – Week 4". ESPN.com. September 18, 2016. Archived from the original on September 24, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- "University of Delaware Athletics Announces Changes in Coaching Staff". Delaware Athletics. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
- "SDSU slips past 'Nova to end Talley's career". ESPN. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "Delaware 'closer to home' for new football coach Rocco". Delaware Online. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Huesman Named Head Coach Of Spiders Football". RichmondsSpiders.com. Retrieved December 14, 2016.