|How on earth did ISU football not make the FCS playoffs?|
|Written by Kevin Powell, Daily Vidette Sports Columnist|
|Thursday, 01 December 2011 17:19|
Nearly every week in college football there areoutcries for the Football Bowl Subdivision to adopt a playoff system in orderto gain certain fairness across the country.
Well, with playoffs come controversy, none more apparent than a couple weeks ago when our very ownIllinois State Redbirds were given the cold shoulder by the Football ChampionshipSubdivision playoff selection committee.
My jaw dropped to thefloor when I received a text that said, “ISU didn’t make it!”
The text didn’t need toexplain what “it” was. I knew exactly what he meant on the morning of Nov. 20, the day the selection committee announced the playoff pairings.
I was speechless. ISUplayed in the second best conference in the FCS. They finished with seven wins,many of those against solid teams. They had just taken the No. 2 ranked team inthe country in Northern Iowa into double overtime before losing. How could thishappen?
This was the year we couldfinally make the playoffs and make a legitimate run with a quarterback cominginto his own, and a defense that was fearless and vicious. We were good enough,right?
And then I remembered thatloose end; that game that was stuck in the back of my gut, and all of ISU fans:Eastern Illinois. It was suppose to be an easy job, but was left behind likeevidence at a crime scene.
EIU, a joke of a school interms of football, made a joke of ISU when they beat the ’Birds 33–26 in theseason’s opening night.
It was a sore spot on theschedule, and the committee clearly noticed.
Now I don’t considermyself an expert on FCS football, but I know more than the average Joe. So tobroaden the discussion I decided to consult an actual expert about the controversialselections.
“If the Redbirds wouldhave been in the tournament, [the EIU loss] would have been the worst loss ofany team in the tournament,” Steve Suess, founder of fcsfootballnetwork.com,said; meaning that no team that made the playoffs lost to a team as bad asEastern.
Normally, when theselection committee begins the search for “at large” bids, they scout out teamswith seven wins. Seven wins will normally get you in. But you say, “ISU had sevenwins.” Yes, that’s very true, the problem is most teams sacrifice one of theirlosses to an FBS school, hoping to either pull off a miracle win or lose to noreal consequences. ISU’s four losses looked a whole lot worse than most teamsfour losses due to the EIU game.
On a side note, this goesto show you the importance of scheduling in college athletics (I’m looking atyou Tim Jankovich).
“If [ISU] lost to a BowlSubdivision team instead of that loss to Eastern Illinois, they would have beenin for sure … there’s no doubt in my mind,” Suess added.
Now, with that all said, Istill believe ISU deserved a bid. As mentioned above, the ’Birds play in thesecond best conference in the country, and had looked elite that past month ofthe season.
But my biggest beef isthat the Ohio Valley Conference, a notoriously poor performing conference inthe playoffs, earned the same amount of bids as the MVFC with the biggestsurprise coming from Eastern Kentucky’s bid.
“I didn’t think EasternKentucky was anywhere on anybody’s radar whatsoever,” Suess said.
Who knows what theplayoffs would have brought the Redbirds, but keep in mind that if they did,there would be some college kid just like me writing in his school paper abouthow their school’s team should have gotten a bid.
Ah, controversy andcollege football, they go together like milk and cookies.