There is an old axiom that goes "In order to be the best, you must be able to beat the best" This idea suggests that the tougher the competition that you schedule, the more likely it is that this competition will make you a better team.
It seems to me that you have to look no further than Christopher Newport University to see this premise put into action. While I have repeatedly cited the unfairness of their public school status in a conference where every other school is private, and while I am also glad that they are leaving the conference, I must cite, with admiration, their tendency to schedule very strong teams within their region for their non-conference games. Over the last few years, CNU has made a habit of playing Wesley (DE), and Salisbury (MD). Theses two teams are consistently ranked in the top twenty in the nation,
From my perspective, this has helped the Captains, and gives them an edge when the conference schedule begins. It prepares them for tough games, and while I am not advocating scheduling Mt. Union, I do think It would be the right thing to schedule Hampden-Sydney, Randolph Macon, or maybe even a Mary Hardin Baylor. Why not Wesley, or Salisbury? It would be an important step in getting Ferrum football to the next level.
Scheduling, is not the only element that helps a team be successful. A team must be able to draw recruits, strong recruits to be competitive. Ferrum has made phenomenal strides in their facility enhancements. but I wonder if there is another angle that needs to be explored? Athletics funding, is likely not at the top of the priorities list when it comes to developing a college budget. While Ferrum has shown an overwhelming commitment to its athletic programs, I believe that there needs to be a push toward developing involvement in the athletics funding through supporters of the college. Many schools, have athletic foundations that are comprised of alumni, private supporters, and commercial entities that can contribute to the athletic programs.
I am not sure how an athletic foundation would work as it relates to Ferrum, but there could be an effort to recruit members, and solicit donations. These donations may be distributed equally among all of the sports at Ferrum, or may be designated for a certain sport.
Just an idea.