Why is the FCS Championship Game on a Sunday? Because ABC wanted it to be

South Dakota State and North Dakota State will get a national television audience for this year's climactic game on Jan. 8, 2023.

South Dakota State's Mark Gronowski carries against North Dakota State during their football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

FARGO — The biggest question for football fans at North Dakota State and South Dakota State since clinching spots in the FCS title game seems simple: "Why is the game being played on a Sunday?"

The answer is just as simple. Because ABC wanted it there.

"We look at everything, every year. It's not a long-term decision but hopefully it is. We've gotten pushback about the game being Saturday at noon. We looked at Friday night. You're not going to get ABC and ESPN has a Friday night NBA doubleheader." said ESPN's Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, Dan Margulis, who programs and schedules all the games.

The matchup between the Bison and Jackrabbits will air at 1 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2023.

"With the NFL shift. they're playing two games on Saturday and they're on ESPN and ABC. We decided to move it [FCS title game] to Sunday and a little bit later at 1p.m. central and put it on ABC. You have the College Football Playoff going on and the FCS Championship folds into that. We think it's a great fit."


It's the third time in the last four seasons that the title game airs on ABC. The 2020 title game between NDSU and James Madison had a viewing audience of 2.68 million people. It may be difficult to replicate that this season, as the NFL plays its final week of regular-season games on the same day.

"Being up against the NFL is what it is. College football fans will find it and it will do fine." Margulis said in response to playing against the NFL.

North Dakota State's Dawson Weber heads upfield with teammates after inteceting a Montana State pass during the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson/ The Forum

"If the game was on Saturday, you would go against the NFL. FCS games go long and we start pregame coverage for the NFL at 2:30 central time on ESPN and ABC. We would be scheduling ourselves into a nightmare."

While fans may be asked to make a choice of what they want to watch, FCS commissioners were all on board with Sunday, Jan. 8, and the reasoning was simple.

"This was the best option and you add in the appeal of being on ABC, with it being the third time in four years, they look at it as a payoff." Margulis added.

Margulis adds that if this experiment doesn't work, as in the ratings for the game are poor, they can go back and re-evaluate where they schedule the game for January 2024.

Grounds crew members paint the field at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in preparation for the FCS Championship game in Frisco, Texas.
David Samson/The Forum

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