May 03, 2016

(STATS) - In moving from an FBS conference that is opposed to scheduling FCS schools anymore to an FCS conference thriving off the challenge of facing the bigger schools, Andrea Williams may find it hard to stand on one side of the fence.

Williams, the associate commissioner of the Big Ten for the last 10 years, will become the Big Sky Conference commissioner July 1. She will replace Doug Fullerton, a major force in growing the Big Sky and the FCS during his 20 years as commissioner.

Williams is joining a conference that is the largest in FCS with 13 member programs, and it will grow to 14 with Idaho's return in 2018. The conference has produced six FCS national champions, most recently Eastern Washington in 2010.

Last season, two Big Sky programs combined for three wins over FBS teams - Portland State beat Washington State of the Pac-12 and North Texas of Conference USA, while North Dakota topped Wyoming of the Mountain West.

Williams is willing to see both sides of FCS-FBS matchups. The Big Ten is the only one of 10 FBS conferences to stop scheduling the games, which offer important paydays and exposure to FCS programs.

"I think conferences, schools, football teams, they have to be strategic," Williams said Tuesday on a Big Sky conference call, "they have to be smart about how they schedule, whether you are an FBS or an FCS team and you're scheduling up or not, it's all about a full body of work. With the number of college games that are happening these days, teams can sometimes be limited with what they can do with their nonconference schedule, and their ability to schedule games, their ability to either travel or bring teams in. So there are a number of factors that play into whether you schedule games or not.

"Speaking from a competitive standpoint, that's the reason why we play the games, we've got to show up day in and day out in order to be successful. So what I think was great is the Big Sky had three victories over FBS teams last year. To say not to schedule them or to question whether they are competitive or not, you're seeing victories happen, you're seeing competitive matchups happen and that's important. However, the FCS and FBS conferences, they have their own priorities. If it's important for them not to schedule FCS teams, that's certainly their prerogative ... to do that in terms of what their needs are from a conference standpoint."

All Big Sky programs except Montana will face an FBS opponent this season. Idaho State, Portland State, Southern Utah and UC Davis are playing two apiece.

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