Late Thursday, FCS fans got their first look at what is on the minds of the Playoff Committee as the first Top 10 was released. A second Top 10 will be released on Nov. 9 and then the final playoff seedings and full bracket will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. ET.
Yes, we have some disagreements. Isn't that par for the course?
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So, my take? Top two are no brainers.
Beyond that? I think some of the decisions in this first 'run' of the committee's ranking choices are splitting hairs and some of the problems are drastic. Jacksonville State being No. 3 instead of my choice of being in the No. 4 spot? I can live with that. But a second Missouri Valley Football Conference team — as of today — not being in the Top Four? Incorrect. It comes down to strength of schedule and strength of conference, in my opinion. The committee has a Southland team that hasn't finished 10-1 yet (but will – Central Arkansas) ahead of a South Dakota team with one loss and an incredible resume – which includes an FBS win?
I love Central Arkansas and what they're doing, but this is based on results through Week 9. That's all you can base it on at this point, you can not project. It may very well play out that the Valley doesn't have a second Top Four seed, but at this point? They do, and they should have a third Top Eight seed too. Period.
And a second Southland Conference program in a Top Eight seed situation? Sam Houston State? Again, no … not yet. If the dynamics warrant it three weeks from now — like if the Valley implodes and eats itself up and the CAA wilts? Fine. But as of today? No way two Southland teams deserve first-round byes.
I can't argue too much with Elon getting a bye based on 'so far' … sort of 50/50 with that, but you can make an argument for it. My take? Elon needs to finish 9-2 and give James Madison a good game, and they've earned a seed and first-round bye. But so far? Right on the cusp.
Northern Arizona being at No. 9 and out of a first-round bye seems wrong to me, as of now. They may have lost handily to Western Illinois, but it was a long time ago and this team is really playing well the past six weeks. As for the third seeded team out of the Valley? You could make arguments for South Dakota State, Illinois State and even Western Illinois. Thank goodness we'll get more data going forward.
For the most part? This run was better than last year's first shot — which had Sam Houston State at No. 1 in the initial polling. The top two are shoo-ins.
HERE'S HOW THE FCS PLAYOFF COMMITTEE SEES IT AS OF NOV. 2
(Top 8 seeds get first-round byes and host in the 2nd round)
|2||North Dakota State||(8-0)||None|
|3||Jacksonville State||(7-1)||Georgia Tech|
|4||Central Arkansas||(7-1)||Kansas St.|
|5||South Dakota||(7-1)||Illinois St.|
|6||Sam Houston State||(7-1)||Cent. Ark.|
|9||Northern Arizona||(6-2)||Arizona, WIU|
|10||South Dakota State||(6-2)||YSU, UNI|