Many would agree that football is America's favorite college sport, and with that in mind, more and more schools are fielding football teams each year. In 2013, 12 schools will add the sport, including a record nine new teams joining the NCAA.
The 12 new football-playing schools for this season, per the National Football Foundation:
Alderson Broaddus University (Philippi, W.Va.): NCAA Division II, Independent - Athletics Director and Head Coach Dennis Creehan.
Berry College (Mount Berry, Ga.): NCAA Division III, Southern Athletic Association - Athletics Director TBA, Head Coach Tony Kunczewski.
Florida Tech (Melbourne, Fla.): NCAA Division II, Gulf South Conference - Athletics Director Bill Jurgens, Jr., Head Coach Steve R. Englehart II.
Hendrix College (Conway, Ark.): NCAA Division III, Southern Athletic Association - Athletics Director Amy Weaver, Head Coach Justin Buchanan.
Houston Baptist University (Houston, Texas): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, (Developmental season in 2013, joining the Southland Conference in 2014) - Athletics Director Steve Moniaci, Head Coach Vic Shealy.
Mercer University (Macon, Ga.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Pioneer Football League (joining the Southern Conference in 2014) - Athletics Director Jim Cole, Head Coach Bobby Lamb.
Oklahoma Baptist University (Shawnee, Okla.): NAIA, Central States Football League - Athletics Director Robert Davenport, Head Coach Chris Jensen.
Reinhardt University (Waleska, Ga.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference - Athletics Director Bill Popp, Head Coach Danny Cronic.
Southwestern University (Georgetown, Texas): NCAA Division III, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference - Athletics Director Glada Munt, Head Coach Joe Austin.
Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Pioneer Football League - Athletics Director Jeff Altier, Head Coach Roger Hughes.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Independent (starting in 2013 and subsequently joining the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA in 2015) - Athletics Director Judy Rose, Head Coach Brad Lambert.
Warner University (Lake Wales, Fla.): NAIA, Independent (2013) - Athletics, Director Kevin Jones, Head Coach Jeff Schaum.
In addition to the 12 new football programs and nine teams joining the NCAA, Georgia State is moving up from FCS to FBS' Sun Belt Conference.
Now, some may say college football's standing as one of the nation's favorite sports is under attack. After all, concerns over concussions and other player-safety issues continue to grow, educational costs are on the rise, making football tougher to field for athletic departments that don't rake in exorbitant amounts of cash, and Ed O'Banion's case against the NCAA could potentially cause a seismic shift in the college-athletics landscape. These issues potentially make it more difficult for some schools to compete in football, but they aren't enough to deter the 12 colleges and universities that will suit up teams this season.
"No other sport contributes more to the vibrancy of a college campus than football, and the trend of adding programs continues full force," said NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell. "University and college presidents clearly see the value of having programs on their campuses, and we applaud them for understanding the role football can play in the educational experience of all their students."
Houston Baptist athletics director Steve Moniaci says having a football team can provide a boost to his school that few other athletic or academic programs can match:
"We're trying to grow this school and make it more of a regional school with greater numbers, and we have seen studies that show football will help us grow our overall enrollment," said Moniaci. "We are also a young institution right around 50 years old, and we really need to have more opportunities to engage our alumni base, and football is uniquely suited to do that. It's one of the few things you can count on to bring your alumni back to campus."
While 2013 is a record year for NCAA additions, the new-football-teams trend isn't really slowing down in the near future. Between 2014 and 2016, 11 more schools are set to add the sport.
College of Idaho (Caldwell, Idaho): NAIA, Applying to the Frontier Conference (2014) - Athletics Director Marty Holly, Head Coach Mike Moroski.
George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.): NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference (2014) - Athletics Director Craig Taylor; Head Coach Chris Casey.
Limestone College (Gaffney, S.C.): NCAA Division II, Independent (2014) - Athletics Director Mike Cerino and Head Coach Bobby James.
Missouri Baptist University (Saint Louis, Mo.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association (2014) - Athletics Director Tom Smith and Head Coach Jason Burianek.
Paine College (Augusta, Ga.): NCAA Division II, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (2014) - Athletics Director Tim Duncan and Head Coach Gregory Ruffin.
Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.): NAIA, Conference TBA (2014) - Athletic Director Drew Watson and Head Coach Keith Barefield.
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southern Conference (2015, with a full conference schedule in 2016) - Athletics Director Richard Sander, Head Coach Carl Torbush.
Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Conference TBA (2015) - Athletics Director Vaughn Williams, Head Coach Brain Bohannon.
Lyon College (Batesville, Ark.): NAIA, Conference TBA (2015) - Athletics Director Kevin Jenkins, Head Coach TBA.
Finlandia University (Hancock, Mich.): NCAA Division III, Conference TBA (Date TBA) - Athletics Director Chris Salani, Head Coach TBA.
University of New Orleans (New Orleans, La.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southland Conference (Date TBA) - Athletics Director Derek Morel, Head Coach TBA.
So, if you're a college football fan and you worry when people like Buzz Bissinger argue that the sport should be banned, you can probably rest easy. The fact that more schools continue adding football teams means your fall Saturdays should go on as planned for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and if your school doesn't field a team on the gridiron and you'd like to jump on the bandwagon of a new squad this season, you'd be hard pressed to do better than the Alderson Broaddus University Battlers. With a name like that, success can only be a matter of "when," not "if."