The Citadel was seriously considered for one of 10 at-large berths in the 20-team FCS playoffs, said the selection committee chairman. Problem is, so were a lot of other teams.
“Everyone said it was the deepest field they’d seen in years,” said chairman Charlie Cobb, athletic director at Appalachian State. “There was a lot of parity, a lot of teams that looked like each other. It was difficult.
Cobb said the committee looked at 26 teams for the 10 at-large spots, with the last two spots coming down to nine teams. The Citadel was 7-4 overall this year, including 5-3 in the Southern Conference with wins over SoCon tri-champs App State and Georgia Southern.
“The challenge for The Citadel was two-fold,” Cobb said. “One was the three-way tie for the SoCon championship. That meant they were the fourth team, and getting four teams from the SoCon was a little bit of a stretch.
“The other thing was that a lot of teams had seven Division I wins, so how do you differentiate among them. The Citadel probably needed one more win. And I really feel like if (App State) or Georgia Southern had ended up at 7-4, The Citadel would have gotten that bid.”
Cobb said Stony Brook (9-2, with a win over Army) and South Dakota State (8-3, 6-2 in Missouri Valley) were the last two teams in.
“We talked about the last two spots for an hour, easily,” he said.
As Cobb said, the field was deep. Todd Shanesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal compiled this list of teams with gripes:
Lehigh (10-1) –Lost finale to Colgate in Patriot League. First 10-win team from automatic-qualifier league left out since 1997.
Towson (7-4) –Colonial co-champs. Two losses to Kent State and LSU. Beat playoff team New Hampshire by 64-35.
Richmond (8-3) –Colonial co-champs. Lost to Virginia, playoff team New Hampshire, playoff team Old Dominion. Beat James Madison when it was No. 2.
Eastern Kentucky (8-3) – EKU lost to a Big Ten team (Purdue), a ranked FCS team (Tennessee State) and an FCS playoff team (Eastern Illinois).
Northern Arizona (8-3) – The Lumberjacks lost their opener to Arizona State, then won eight straight before losing to Southern Utah in triple overtime and playoff-bound Cal Poly.
Others: Albany (9-2); Tennessee State (8-3); UT Martin (8-3); and Youngstown State (7-4), which had three of its losses against playoff teams and beat Pitt, 31-17.
The playoff field:
NCAA FCS PLAYOFFS
Saturday, Nov. 24
Colgate (8-3) at Wagner (8-3), noon
Coastal Carolina (7-4) at Bethune-Cookman (9-2), 2 p.m.
Eastern Illinois (7-4) at South Dakota State (8-3), 3 p.m.
Villanova (8-3) at Stony Brook (9-2), 3 p.m.
(Saturday, Dec. 1)
New Hampshire (8-3) at Wofford (8-3), 2 p.m.
Central Arkansas (9-2) at No. 5 overall seed Georgia Southern (8-3), 2 p.m.
Coastal Carolina/Bethune-Cookman winner at No. 4 Old Dominion (10-1), 2 p.m.
Illinois State (8-3) at Appalachian State (8-3), 2 p.m.
Eastern Illinois/South Dakota State winner at No. 1 North Dakota State (10-1), 2 p.m.
Cal Poly (9-2) at Sam Houston State (8-3), 4 p.m.
Colgate/Wagner winner at No. 2 Eastern Washington (9-2), 6 p.m.
Villanova/Stony Brook winner at No. 2 Montana State (10-1), 7 p.m.
QUARTERFINALS – Dec. 7-8
SEMIFINALS – Dec. 14-15
CHAMPIONSHIP – Jan. 5 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas