The 2022 NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee has set the brackets for the 2022 FCS Playoffs. Unfortunately, the No. 24 Florida A&M Rattlers did not receive a general invitation this season and will not repeat in the playoffs.
The field of twenty-four team announcements did not contain a single representative from SWAC and MEAC. Recall that FAMU earned a vacancy in the 2021 FCS Playoffs and battled Southeast Louisiana. I witnessed an overwhelmed Rattlers team lose 38-14 on that cold night in Hammond, LA.
Although it wasn’t a great performance, the team had heart. Coach Simmons’ squad could be more talented this year and could pose a threat to an FCS opponent.
The committee selected four 7-4 teams — Montana, Eastern Kentucky, Delaware and North Dakota – over Florida A&M with a 9-2 record. Why?
NCAA reporter Stan Becton wrote days before the selections that “the precedent was there” for Florida A&M. Still, he believed No. 12 Montana would have to beat No. Montana State to qualify. They were beaten 55-21 by the Bobcats, but the committee decided to extend an at-large bid to the 7-4 Grizzlies anyway.
The committee is more familiar with specific teams, conferences and history than SWAC and MEAC.
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A stranger case group has Gardner-Webb (6-5) against Eastern Kentucky (7-4). The Runnin’ Bulldogs received an automatic berth after winning the Big South title. Despite Eastern Kentucky’s average record, their ASUN/WAC title automatically qualified them for the Big Dance.
Additionally, North Dakota (7-4) and Delaware (7-4) are members of the MCFC and Colonial Conference, respectively. Familiarity may have influenced the selectors’ decisions to allow entry to these teams rather than the Rattlers.
Here is the bottom line. SWAC and MEAC need to start beating opponents above their weight class for these committees to seriously consider at-large selections. Or the SWAC and MEAC conferences may have to become automatic qualifiers (which is another story).
I said it last season and I’ll say it again.
Unless conference contenders like Jackson State, NCCU, Florida A&M and others decide to consistently play against and defeat the FCS “Big Dawgs,” they will always be at the mercy of the selection committee and the open offer — which can be rare at best .
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