On November 24, 2013; the FCS Committee released the 24 team field for their annual NCAA FCS Football National Championship. I reviewed and examined the field of 24 and found that, like the NCAA Men’s and Women’s March Madness brackets, some credible programs are left scratching their head, after reading a recent and un-authored blog post from ncaafootball.com called “In the Huddle: Nothing Simple about the FCS Selection”, posted on November 24, 2013. The one interesting point made in the article by Head Coach Dino Babers from (11-1) Eastern Illinois, who received a 1st round BYE summed it up the best “Subjective, Objective, Computers, the Eye Test, it still comes down to winning games” (NCAAFootball.com, 2013). If winning and your overall record is the most important aspect to measure who makes the field, then why must we have this complicated subjective, bias and manipulated BCS system to determine which programs are given a significant advantage and the opportunity, not truly earned the opportunity, to compete for the NCAA/FBS Mens Football National Championship.
Of the 24 berths for the FCS programs; 9 are Conference Winners and the remaining 15 are at-large berths, selected by a committee. Yes, 15 at large berths not 4 like the future College Football Playoff system in 2014. After reviewing the brackets and analyzing the berths, who made it, who earned a 1st round bye and who was left on the outside looking in. As I examined the FCS brackets, I looked for the FCS program with the least credible record. The purpose of that was to expand the list of at large berths of teams who should have been examined, evaluated, assessed to make the field. Furman (7-5), who finished tied for 1st in the Southland Conference was selected to participate. That means every FCS program that was not selected with a (7-5) record or better has a legitimate argument on why they were left out. 24 FCS programs met or exceeded that requirement and are scratching their head why. Remember what Coach Babers said ” still comes down to winning games”.
Of the pool of additional at large FCS programs that should have been reviewed and possibly selected, 7 of the 24, or 29.1% equaled the Furman (7-5) record. 5 of the 24, or 20.8% possessed a record of (7-4) minus 1 game which could have either made their record (8-4) or (7-5) as Furman. The additional 12 of the 24 or 50% of the field possessed a win-loss record better than (7-5) Furman but were left out of this playoff tournament and scratching their heads. We meet the criteria based upon what Coach Babers said but we are left out, that does not make sense. More interesting fact is the IVY League was left out of the whole playoff tournament. (8-2) Princeton and (9-1) Harvard left out. I wonder what the committee was thinking. The remaining list of FCS programs that were left out of this playoff field were: (10-2) Mercer(Pioneer Conf.), (10-3) Charleston Southern(Big South), (9-3) Alcorn State (SWAC), (3) (8-4) FBS programs Liberty(Big South), Youngstown State(Missouri Valley), Chattanooga (Southland) and (4) (8-3) FBS programs Lehigh(Patriot), San Diego and Marist(Pioneer), and Jackson State(SWAC). Count them, 12 FCS programs with better records than (7-5) Furman and left out. Based upon Coach Baber’s comment, Mercer and Charleston Southern need a full explanation, followed by Alcorn State. 10 win and 9 win seasons and they are on the outside looking in.
I know the selection committee has a tough job of seeding and then selecting the at large berths. The most interesting fact is of the 126 FCS programs 24 or 19% of the pool is selected. Of that pool, 48 or 38.1% were eligible for examination, assessment and possible selection. Something I examined in my book “College Football In the BCS Era, The Untold Truth: An Analysis of Factors that Supports the 16 Team Playoff Model” was a larger field creates a better pool of programs to select from and seed. The future College Football Playoff Committee starting in 2014 will be only selecting 3.1% of the field or 4 FBS programs. I cannot wait until the large group of FBS programs that are on the outside looking in start lobbying and saying, ” we have the same record or better than team X, how were we left out”? How is this committee going to determine what variables to use and analyze. Their committee responsibility just got harder. If the FCS Committee has trouble selecting and seeding 24 FCS programs and still leaving credible programs on the outside looking in, how will this new FBS Playoff Committee handle the selection process. That is the $50+ Million dollar decision they signed up for, nominated for or were told they were on the committee.
My hat goes off to the FCS committee who takes on the tough task but at least fair process in selecting and seeding the 24 FCS programs. I think what makes this FCS selection and seeding process so simple or easier is, there is not $50+ Million dollars in the balance in the selection process. Just the prestige, honor and recognition of being called NCAA FCS Men’s Football National Champions. Take note FBS Playoff Committee.. your tasks and responsibilities has more layers to it than peeling an onion.
Source: unauthored (2013). “In the FCS Huddle: Nothing Simple About FCS Playoff Selection”. Viewed on the ncaafootball.com website. November 24, 2013.
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