Where the FCS Selection Committee Was Wrong

Hot Beef Take

All of here in the Cedar Valley were subjected to the FCS Selection Show on Sunday. Everybody around here, who had heard my voice on Saturday evening after the results of regular season finales started coming in, who’d read my work on College Sports Madness, I loudly and proudly proclaimed, “UNI is getting a national seed. No game next week, we’ll see ya in two.” What a surprise and shocker Sunday happened to be. How?

I’m still trying to figure that out. I can’t make heads or tails of it. I wrote eight First Round game capsules yesterday for “The Madness” and I was pissed off the whole time. Not disturbed, not confused, pissed! Yes, I was those other things also, but I cannot believe that ten representatives from FCS conferences could miss so badly. And it grows even further than the seeds. First Round pairings and subsequent Second Round groupings were whack also.

So why should UNI have been put on the seed line?

The general consensus was that the teams who received the five of the top six bids were already on the seed lines going into Saturday. All but one won their finale, Montana. But that loss was only their second FCS loss and was to Montana State. Montana State was thought to be just off the seed line, but a shellacking over the consensus #3 at the time, pushed them all the way up to #5, slotting their victim Montana behind them. Nobody should have any qualms over the top six seeds. They are the exact six I projected and in the exact order I projected Saturday night. It’s those last two bids.

I projected UNI and Wofford. Why? UNI had lost only one game in their last six. Yes, it was a blowout loss to South Dakota State, but that’s a quality opponent. On top of that, UNI finished in second place, all alone in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, at 6-2. They were 8-3 against FCS competition, losing only to teams in the Top Ten. Their FBS loss was to Iowa State, who is currently 7-4 and ranked in the FBS Top 25. Wofford was 8-2 against FCS competition, including winning their final eight. They also were the Southern Conference champion and automatic qualifier.

Instead, the Selection Committee nabs South Dakota State and Central Arkansas. South Dakota State had the same record as UNI, granted, with the head-to-head win. But they come limping into the playoffs having lost three of the final five games. Two were excusable losses, but the last was to a very up-and-down South Dakota team, who finished 5-7. People may point to UNI beating two lower level Big Sky teams, Southern Utah and Idaho State. Acknowledged. But South Dakota State had non-conference wins over non-scholarship Drake and FCS transition team, Long Island, who went 0-10 on the season. Central Arkansas was one of three FCS teams to win against the FBS this year, over Western Kentucky. Overall, UCA was 8-2 against the FCS, very solid. But in the end, they didn’t even win the Southland Conference’s automatic berth. They lost just three games ago to Southeastern Louisiana, who got that bid, 34-0! A second place team from the Southland, who’s champion wasn’t a seed, gets a bid before the stand alone second place team from the best or second best conference in FCS?

That is wrong!

Now Central Arkansas had a non-conference win over Austin Peay, who ended up as the Ohio Valley Conference’s automatic bid, so that’s another feather in their cap. So the more you look at it, maybe, Central Arkansas was deserving. More than Wofford? More than UNI? It’s at least a reasonable argument, even though they were slotted behind a non-bid in their own conference.

The Committee uses the FCS Coaches Poll as one of its numerous tools, which has a long history of being the worst poll representation out there. Only 26 “coaches” vote in the thing and the rumor for years had been that many of them allow an intern, scout or trainer to fill out their ballot and they send it in. When does a coach have time to really look over what else is going on with the nation? Likely not much. Most soches will tell you,”We’re not looking ahead. We’re focusing on this game at hand.” So why would they be privy to what’s going on across the nation, except for looking at scores?

Ever hear of this Simple Rating System(SRS) the Committee likes to talk about? What I find problematic with this “tool” that they use, is that you never see the ranking until AFTER the field is announced. Why so hidden, so clandestine? Click on that link and look at it. Top six are the top six seeds. After that, you have a couple of Ivy League teams who shouldn’t even be in these rankings since they don’t compete in the playoffs. After that, South Dakota State, UNI, Central Arkansas, Villanova and Wofford – the five teams most regarded as fighting for the last two seeds. Villanova finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association, so they were likely dropped from consideration early. If you go off this tool, UNI should have been the #8 seed, ahead of UCA and Wofford. But let’s have some fun. Who did these teams lose to, use this tool…

South Dakota State

  • #1 North Dakota State
  • #29 Illinois State
  • #44 South Dakota

UNI

  • #1 North Dakota State
  • #5 Weber State
  • #9 South Dakota State

Central Arkansas

  • #16 Southeastern Louisiana
  • #25 Nicholls

Wofford

  • #39 South Carolina State
  • #63 Samford

Looking at these numbers, using the NCAA’s own tool, UNI did not have a bad loss. The ONLY ting that was bad was that it was to another one of these three. If that loss was the only thing keeping UNI from the #7 seed, South Dakota State deserved it. But by that logic, UNI should have been the #8. If UNI was kept off the seed line because they had an extra loss, as compared to Central Arkansas and Wofford, then South Dakota State should have been left off also. It looks like the criteria was changed between voting for the #7 seed and the #8 seed and that’s not fair.