Welcome to the HERO Sports FCS Mailbag. In partnership with FCS Football Fans Nation, we'll ask for questions with a post on their Facebook page and our senior staff members Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder will provide answers.
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Adam Willey – With Gameday coming to Brookings, would you now be able to say that #FCSonGameday was officially a success?
Brian: No question Adam. I think it worked. Coach Stig thought it worked (I asked) and so did Coach Entz (yep, asked him too). I can't read the minds at ESPN but my guess is they paid attention to the analytics. ESPN seems to get more curious about the FCS every year, and they SHOULD, and I don't think that push hurt things in the least bit. Interest is interest and for those of us who are a part of that kind of FCS world business? Feed the beast what it wants … or get out of the way.
Sam: Yeah, I think that social media push helped with this. Now, there's still a decent chance GameDay would be in Brookings without that social media push. But I'm sure the GameDay folks took notice of the hashtag and knew they'd get a great response if they chose Brookings.
Scott Moody – There appears to be very little to differentiate between the teams ranked 10-30. Is it parity or mediocrity?
Brian: I'm not a cynical human being by nature, Scott. I tend not to be very authoritarian by nature for many reasons not worth getting into here … so if fans/peeps want to say that the FCS No. 10 through No. 30 is soft? That's their take. My take? My take would be more of a half-full summation. This is a brutally tough gauntlet. it is a Division I cauldron (like how I mixed in Halloween talk?). Parity is a fun thing when it comes to discussion. It may not be fun for the playoff committee next month, but it's a convo starter. My take is there are 30+ good teams at this level, not that there are only 10 and everybody else sucks. But that's in the eye of the beholder. But I can promise you I pay attention and don't have a "dawg" in this hunt. Not in the least.
Sam: It's hard to tell, honestly. It seems there are a few teams that have really separated themselves from the pack. Then there's the handful of teams in Tier 2 where their ceiling is the quarterfinals and maybe semifinals. But yeah, that third tier is filled with teams that are nowhere close to competing for a national title. Not that they're bad football teams, they're just not on the level of the top 3-5 teams. Like, no offense to these teams, but teams like Delaware, SEMO, Central Arkansas … they're all solid, but are they really going to make any noise nationally? They all just fall into the "pretty good FCS team, but not great" category, and there are a whole of teams in that tier. If that makes sense. For example, just because Delaware got smacked by NDSU doesn't mean Delaware is medicore. Delaware is a solid FCS team, they just aren't anywhere close to that top tier. I think it is parity in a group of "decent' teams.
Cody Chathams – Name a team in a conference outside of the big 3 (CAA, MVFC, Big Sky) that can or will contend for the title.
Brian: Oh my. Coming into this past weekend? I would have said Furman. And I still think the Paladins have potential. Through a month and a half, Furman played really well against the FCS and scared the hell out of two FBS teams. But this past nasty rainy weekend they showed they were vulnerable against The Citadel. Beyond Furman? I'm not ready to commit to a team outside of the Big Three that can win it all, but we do have five weeks left to change that mind.
Sam: I don't think there are if I'm being honest. It's actually hard to make an argument for a team to win the national title that's not named NDSU, JMU or SDSU with teams like Weber, Sac State and Villanova all not being too far off. But I can't think of a team outside of the Power 3 conferences that can legitimately contend for a national title. Kennesaw State has an entire new offense off of a team that lost by 10 in the quarterfinals last year. Are the Owls really going to make that big of a jump? In the SoCon, is a team like Wofford or Furman really going to make it to Frisco? Or SHSU, UCA, Nicholls, UIW in the Southland? I just don't see it. Don't get me wrong, those teams are solid. Some may reach the quarterfinals and depending on matchups, maybe one of these advances to the semifinals. But I have a hard time seeing a scenario where any of them are in Frisco contending for the championship.
Jacob Martinez – Any chance Monmouth sneaks in the playoffs this year assuming they win out except against KSU?
Brian: This year? I'd say yes. I think there is one route. I think they must go 9-3 and hope that much of the rest of the FCS competition slips to the 7-5 and that argument can be made. Personally? I wouldn't choose Monmouth to beat KSU, but obviously, if that happens it is Monmouth making the playoffs as an automatic bid. Hey, let's face it … as of now? Monmouth has lost to an FBS (Western Michigan) and a near-lock FCS playoff team (Montana on the road — which really wasn't out of hand, and it was close in the 4th). Let's put it this way, Jacob … Monmouth controls its own destiny and looks better than that 9-2 team that made the playoffs a few years back. Would you want it any other way, than to control your own destiny?
Sam: Monmouth was left out of the playoffs last year at 8-3 when the field seemed a little weaker than normal and the bubble especially wasn't strong. In 2017, Monmouth got in as an at-large bid with a 9-2 record but was hammered by UNI, 46-7. So I think the playoff committee learned its lesson last year. And this season, with a 12-game schedule, the playoff bubble is going to be packed with 8-9-win teams and I don't know if a 9-3 Monmouth team would have the resume to get into the field. There is a chance, though, and going to-toe-toe with Kennesaw would definitely help their case for a playoff bid.
Preston Adams – Is South Carolina State vs. Bethune Cookman an elimination game not only for the Celebration Bowl, but a playoff bid given the chaos and cannibalism in the OVC, Southland, and SoCon?
Brian: Here's my take on a MEAC team making the FCS Playoffs as a runner up … it can't be FAMU (because of self-imposed sanctions) and I also think an HBCU entrant probably will need 10 wins. Now … Bethune-Cookman fits that mold in my old stomping grounds of Daytona Beach (I covered 100+ games at that stadium, and played my last HS soccer game there in 1993 too!). I think BCU has a clearer path to 10 wins than S.C. State, even with that impressive Wofford win. When I was in Daytona, Cookman annually took its postseason lumps from teams you wouldn't have thought could play with the 'Cats. Hell, I don't know what will happen with this … but I think if you want a MEAC runner up in the FCS Playoffs, this year it's going to take 10 wins out of 12 tries. BCU might fit that, if it doesn't handle NC A&T.
NEXT: Week 9 Score Predictions
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