EDITOR'S NOTE: For a post-Selection Sunday podcast with APSU head coach Will Healy, please scroll to the bottom of the page
As the 2017 regular season wore on, Austin Peay became more and more of a national topic of discussion. The ESPN Gameday crew was talking about the Governors, the show Good Morning America talked about the Governors … and most importantly, HERO Sports was there all along.
REACTION: To the 2017 FCS Playoff Bracket
[divider]COMPARE: Any CFB Team | Any CFB Player[divider]
The Governors felt they had done enough to get into the playoffs today, but the FCS Playoff Committee didn't agree. It wasn't as much an 'Anti APSU' dealio as it was just flat out depth and parity in the FCS ranks this year. But APSU had scheduled three FBS teams and gone toe-to-toe with all three for most of the games before the depth of a 85-scholarship team beat out the depth of a 62-scholarship program. APSU also had gone 8-1 against FCS competition — and yes, it could have scheduled two or three creampuffs instead of FBS teams. Maybe that would have gotten Austin Peay in at 10-1 (keep in mind, game contracts are often signed years ahead of time).
Regardless of how the FCS Selection Show went for Austin Peay, the season was a massive success. The Governors tossed aside the 29-game losing streak albatross and became clutch, roaring back in some wins and never faltering in the close ones. And the team is young. This year, nine freshmen started at least a game for APSU, and 18 sophomores started at least once — with seven of those sophomores starting at least 11 games.
The top four rushers — Ahmaad Tanner, Kentel Williams and QBs Javaughn Craig and Jeremiah Oatsvall — are all freshmen and sophomores. The top tackler, Gunnar Scholato, is back — and five of the top seven tacklers overall are slated to return, along with top sack man Jaison Williams (sophomore). Seniors like Malik Boynton, Kyran Moore, Jule Pace, Jeremiah Mitchell, Corey Brown and Max Ewoldt will be missed.
This is heartbreak. I’m devastated. No way around it. But nothing will ever change how I feel about this team – and especially this senior class. Guys, you are special. I’m proud of you. You’ve changed the arc of Austin Peay football forever. You are and will always be winners. pic.twitter.com/x2TkRWmExe
— Will Healy (@Coach_heals) November 19, 2017
The program has only hit the 8-win mark five times since the program began in 1946, and it hadn't happened in 40 years. No APSU team has won 9 games in a season (I'm seeing goals for 2018 here). The program is 253-491-10 overall … with only 20 winning seasons out of 72, but it just feels like this program has changed.
Even with all the positives, Sunday was a day to step back and reflect — on more things than just football.
"That's a really tough situation with kids you love and care about to see the disappointment in their faces — to have to watch that show together," Austin Peay head coach Will Healy told HERO Sports on Sunday, a few hours after the Selection Show. "It's really really difficult. But the amazing part about it is how quickly they hugged one another and rallied around another. We just left church and got to get a little piece of what's really important and have a chance to be thankful for the kind of year these kids had."[divider]
AUSTIN PEAY'S BEST SEASONS
A Post Selection Sunday conversation with Austin Peay head coach Will Healy: