You know, as the years go by, I pity the FCS playoff committee more and more. Why blast them? They have to sift through this craziness? And then afterward they get blasted? Why should they? The teams can’t make up their own minds either.
Let’s take the positive tact: Thank goodness there was football at all involving 2020 (fall) and 2021 (spring). At times it seemed none of this would even happen. That’s a starting point.
Now that we’re just a handful of days away from establishing the abbreviated playoff field, I think it’s worth pointing out: Folks – at-large bids are going to be rare this spring, even though we know some of the at-large teams that will be left out are better than some of the teams getting automatic bids.
That being said, I’ve continued to rank the best teams, not the best contenders for a playoff spot. No sir, I do not think a 3-4 Northern Iowa team would lose to a frontrunning Sacred Heart team out of the NEC. It wouldn’t happen. To be honest? I’m not sure UNI would lose to most of the teams outside of the top 10. But the Panthers won’t make the playoffs based on this spring’s setup. But are they still one of the best FCS teams in the country? Absolutely. Ask NDSU, SDSU, etc.
Apparently, I’m still one of only a handful of voters who thinks NDSU should be in the No. 1 spot, despite their head-scratching early spring blowout loss to SIU. Am I right? I have no idea. But James Madison has only played four games, and two were against lesser opponents. The Richmond matchup this weekend will say a ton about the Dukes, as will NDSU’s matchup with a top-five opponent (or should be) South Dakota State team.
Outside of the “big three” FCS conferences (Big Sky, CAA, and MVFC) … the blue-blood outliers at Jacksonville State and Sam Houston continue to impress on the level of deserving serious consideration. My take is both of these two programs haven’t been this good in at least five years.
And Weber State? The team topping the Big Sky? They may win by a sliver, but they continue to win. The Wildcats punch you in the mouth with good defense, some of the best special teams play in the nation, and just enough offense to win games. This program is well-coached and will be a massive factor this spring.
A special shout-out goes to Monmouth and long-time coach Kevin Callahan. They haven’t just beaten two extremely talented teams from the Big South – Kennesaw State and Gardner Webb – they’ve mowed them down. That’s nothing to sneeze at, as both KSU and GWU are loaded with southern talent this year. In the past couple of years, Monmouth is playing its best Division I football ever.
DROPPED: It was tough, but Idaho (2-3), Murray State (5-2), and Duquesne (4-1) dropped off the ballot. Murray State was the toughest. The Racers really got off to a promising start, and it probably is a spark heading into the fall, but I had to drop them.
ADDED: For the time being, I added SE Louisiana, Gardner-Webb, and the SWAC’s Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The truth is? With so many cancellations and teams that have backed out, along with others who never even attempted the spring season – it would probably be wise to just do a national top 15. But we do a top 25, and that’s my take.
Top 25 Ballot
5. Weber State
9. Jacksonville State
11. UC Davis
12. Missouri State
20. Austin Peay
22. SE Louisiana
25. Arkansas-Pine Bluff