Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs


Daniel Ballou

Publication Date



Powerhouse college football teams have a history of scheduling lesser opponents to start a new season. The revenues generated in college football due to television and post-season bowl games have made these games more common. Universities competing at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) make up the top level of collegiate football. FBS schools have more scholarships to give and belong to conferences with television contracts worth millions of dollars. Schools at the FBS level compete in season-ending bowl games, and the top four teams compete in the College Football Playoff (CFP). The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) is the division made up by teams directly beneath the FBS schools at the NCAA Division I level. FCS teams have fewer scholarships to give and rarely play televised games. They compete for a spot in a 16-team tournament after the regular season. The purpose of this study was to determine if football student-athletes from FCS schools had increased potential for injuries when their schools competed against teams from the FBS. Because of the large financial payouts the FBS schools pay the FCS schools to play these games, the moniker guarantee game has become a common term in college football. Of the 124 FCS member schools, about 30 compete in guarantee games on an annual basis. The researcher was interested in those FCS schools that typically play 1 — 2 guarantee games each season. Data were collected from eight FCS athletic trainers consistently involved in guarantee games. Because athletic trainers work to prevent injuries, the opportunity to hear rich narrative from them was the foundation for this study. The majority of FCS athletic trainers (67%) said their student-athletes suffer from increased soreness and are banged up following games against FBS schools. The majority also said that playing multiple FBS opponents in the same season is detrimental to the health of their student-athletes. The athletic trainers who reported that their school had played FBS opponents in consecutive weeks saw an increase in injuries. None of the trainers reported that FBS games resulted in an increase of season-ending injuries, career-ending injuries, or catastrophic injuries.


guarantee games, college football, injuries college football, FCS vs. FBS, football athletic trainers

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Barnes, John

Second Committee Member

Hushman, Glenn

Third Committee Member

Scott, David