Ranking the most successful FCS programs of the decade
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - The calendar says the FCS championship game will occur in early 2020, but North Dakota State actually has one more opportunity to add to one of the most dominating decades in college football history.
The Bison dynasty has stood atop the FCS over the 2010-19 seasons, winning more than 91 percent of its games and a subdivision-record seven national titles to date.
So with No. 1 in the 2010s a runaway, which programs have been the most successful after North Dakota State? The following 16-team ranking breaks it down.
This is not a list of the 16 best programs - otherwise, Illinois State, Montana and others might be included - but the most successful of the decade.
Enjoy the holidays before North Dakota State and James Madison square off Jan. 11 in the national championship game - the final game of the FCS decade.
1. NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Record: 136-13 (.913)
Resume: 10 FCS playoff appearances (all quarterfinals or beyond); Record 7 FCS titles and 2019 finalist; 9 Missouri Valley Conference titles; 2 longest win streaks in FCS history (36, 2017-present; 33, 2012-14); 6-0 versus FBS opponents
Recap: Coach Craig Bohl lifted the Bison from a 3-8 record in 2009 to three straight national titles (2011-13) followed by Chris Klieman claiming a record-tying four titles (2014-15 and 2017-18) and now Matt Entz posting a 15-0 record in his first season.
2. JAMES MADISON
Record: 96-34 (.738)
Resume: 7 FCS playoff appearances; 2016 FCS champion, 2017 runner-up and 2019 finalist; 4 CAA Football titles and 1 runner-up finish; 3rd-longest win streak in FCS history (26, 2016-17)
Recap: With four different coaches getting to the playoffs this decade, the Dukes' greatest success occurred under Mike Houston (37-6 from 2016-18). Included was the 2016 semifinal-round win that ended North Dakota State's five-year FCS title run.
3. EASTERN WASHINGTON
Record: 97-35 (.735)
Resume: 6 FCS playoff appearances; 2010 FCS champion and '18 runner-up; 2012, '13 and '16 semifinalist; 6 Big Sky Conference titles
Recap: The star-studded Eagles opened the decade with a national title under coach Beau Baldwin and went on to a winning record in all 10 seasons.
4. SAN DIEGO
Record: 86-30 (.741)
Resume: 8 Pioneer Football League titles; 5 FCS playoff appearances; only 2 playoff wins in PFL history (2016 and '17); ended decade on 37-game PFL win streak (second-longest conference streak in FCS history)
Recap: The Toreros haven't lost a league game under coach Dale Lindsey since 2015. The program was penalized for improperly awarding financial aid in 2013 or it would have nine straight PFL titles.
5. SAM HOUSTON STATE
Record: 99-37 (.728)
Resume: 7 FCS playoff appearances; 2011 and '12 FCS runner-up; 2014, '15 and '17 semifinalist; 4 Southland Conference titles and 2 runner-up finishes
Recap: The Bearkats posted a winning record in all 10 seasons, highlighted by back-to-back national runner-up finishes under coach Willie Fitz.
6. JACKSONVILLE STATE
Record: 91-34 (.728)
Resume: 7 FCS playoff appearances; 2015 FCS runner-up; 6 Ohio Valley Conference titles and 1 runner-up finish; 36-game conference win streak from 2013-18
Recap: The Gamecocks had a winning record in the first nine seasons of the decade and its banner OVC winning streak is the third-longest conference streak in FCS history.
7. NORTH CAROLINA A&T
Record: 78-37 (.678)
Resume: 4 titles in first five seasons of Celebration Bowl; 2014, '15, '18 and '19 HBCU national champ; 1 FCS playoff appearance; 5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and 1 runner-up finish
Recap: The MEAC's move to participation in the Celebration Bowl has agreed with the Aggies, who won their first two titles under coach Rod Broadway, including a 12-0 season in 2017, and have added two under Sam Washington.
8. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Record: 83-45 (.648)
Resume: 8 FCS playoff appearances; 2017 and '18 semifinalist; 2016 Missouri Valley Conference title and 4 runner-up finishes
Recap: Under veteran coach John Stiegelmeier, the Jackrabbits are the only program to beat North Dakota State twice in the decade.
9. NEW HAMPSHIRE
Record: 80-47 (.630)
Resume: 8 FCS playoff appearances; 2013 and '14 semifinalist; 2014 CAA Football title and 4 runner-up finishes
Recap: By making the playoffs in the first eight seasons of the decade, UNH had a run of 14 straight appearances under coach Sean McDonnell.
Record: 80-43 (.650)
Resume: 8 FCS playoff appearances; 2010, '12, '16 and '17 quarterfinalist; 5 Southern Conference titles and 2 runner-up finishes
Recap: The Terriers' greatest success occurred under coach Mike Ayers, although they won SoCon titles in coach Josh Conklin's first two seasons the last two years.
11. NORTHERN IOWA
Record: 77-51 (.611)
Resume: 7 FCS playoff appearances; 2011, '15 and '19 quarterfinalist; 2 Missouri Valley Conference titles and 2 runner-up finishes
Recap: The team that has eliminated coach Mark Farley's program in its last six playoff appearances, including James Madison this season, will be in the top seven of the final national rankings.
12. KENNESAW STATE
Record: 48-15 (.762)
Resume: 3 FCS playoff appearances; 2017 and '18 quarterfinalist; 2 Big South Conference titles and 1 runner-up finish
Recap: No FCS startup program has won as many games as coach Brian Bohannon's Owls in their first five seasons, including the third-most among all teams (34) over the last three years.
13. MONTANA STATE
Record: 78-46 (.629)
Resume: 6 FCS playoff appearances; 2019 semifinalist; 3 Big Sky Conference titles and 1 runner-up finish
Recap: Coach Rob Ash led great success in the first half of the decade, but this season, Jeff Choate got the Bobcats to the semifinals for the first time in 35 years.
14. CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Record: 80-40 (.667)
Resume: 5 FCS playoff appearances; 3 Southland Conference titles and 3 runner-up finishes
Recap: Three different coaches have led playoff appearances that all ended in the second round.
Record: 74-26 (.740)
Resume: 4 Ivy League titles and 2 runner-up finishes; 22-game win streak (2013-15)
Recap: The Crimson owned the Ivy League under coach Tim Murphy during the first half of the decade, posting a 31-4 record (45-5 overall) and four titles from 2011-15. Ivy schools don't participate in postseason play.
Record: 80-35 (.696)
Resume: 5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and 3 runner-up finishes; 3 FCS playoff appearances
Recap: The Wildcats' greatest success occurred in the first half of the decade under coach Brian Jenkins, but the lack of a postseason win has to be considered as well.
Updated December 24, 2019