This fall college football will be played on more campuses than ever before thanks to the addition of five programs, including two at the NCAA Division II level.
According to the National Football Foundation, the addition of Cincinnati Christian University, Davenport University (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Morthland College (West Frankfort, Ill.), the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (Odessa) and the University of West Florida (Pensacola), there will be 774 college football teams in 2016, the most on record.
West Florida and UT-Permian Basin are in the NCAA’s Division II while CCU and Davenport are in the NAIA and Morthland College’s affiliation is TBA.
The schools come from three distinct regions of the country, including football hotbeds of Florida, Texas and Ohio.
If the name and town of the newest college football program in Texas ring a bell, there’s good reason. Odessa is the home of the Permian Panthers, the high school program immortalized in H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream.
Per the NFF, three more programs are set to come online next year, including the return of UAB as a member of Conference USA in the FBS.
“With more than one million high school students playing football and more than 70,000 spots on college teams, there is plenty of room for expansion,” said NFF chairman Archie Manning in a statement. “Many of these colleges clearly recognize that football can play an important role in encouraging students to continue their educations by enticing them to enroll.”
Last year saw the addition of four new programs, including FCS members East Tennessee State and Kennesaw State (Georgia).
In all, 42 programs have launched at various levels since 2010.