The Towson University football program was robbed of a spot in the 2012 FCS Playoffs today. The selection committee who determines who makes the cut and who doesn’t, is shrouded in mystery. No one truly knows the criteria in order to make it except that each conference has one automatic bid.
This year, Towson repeated as champions of the CAA (sharing it with four other teams) and finished with a 7-4 overall record and 6-2 in the CAA. They finished the season with a 4 game win streak knowing that their playoff hopes were on the line. All five of their conference road games were against ranked opponents. They won all but one, against James Madison; a game in which they had the lead in the final minutes but lost 13-10.
Towson finished the season ranked 15th in the Sports Network FCS poll, the poll widely recognized as the definitive poll in FCS play. They were never unranked at any point. They were 1-2 in their non conference schedule, beating St. Francis. Their two losses came against LSU, who are 3rd in the BCS rankings, and Kent State who had one loss and won the MAC conference. They put up points against both teams and even lead LSU at one point in the game.
In the FCS playoffs, 10 teams receive an automatic bid for “winning” their conference. Villanova received the autobid from the CAA even though 4 teams were co-champions. They received the bid based on combined record against the remaining 3 teams (Towson, New Hampshire, and Richmond). Towson beat Villanova by 14 on the road.
The remaining 10 spots are “at large” and take into account the teams who didn’t receive their conference’s autobid. They were given to Cal Poly (Big Sky), Appalachian State (Southern), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Montana State (Big Sky), New Hampshire (CAA), Old Dominion (CAA), Sam Houston State (Southland), South Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Stony Brook (Big South) and Wofford (Southern).
I have no qualms with ODU making it because they beat Towson and are clearly one of the best teams at the FCS level though they are moving to the FBS level Conference USA next season and their non conference schedule includes imposing Duquesne, Hampton and Campbell (sarcasm implied). I do, however, wonder how New Hampshire made it over Towson even though the Tigers beat them on the road by 29 points. Also, New Hampshire’s out of conference schedule included Holy Cross, Minnesota, and Central Connecticut. Overwhelming right? Yeah didn’t think so.
I also take issue with the fact that two teams ranked below Towson (Illinois State at 16th and South Dakota State at 19th) made it in over them. Illinois State’s non conference schedule included Dayton, Eastern Michigan, and Eastern Illinois. While South Dakota State’s included Kansas, South East Louisiana and UC Davis. How can you penalize Towson for playing a harder schedule than most teams.
How does the 15th best team in the FCS not make it into a 20 team playoff that should be comprised of the best teams in the nation? Towson not only should have made it over half these teams but also should have hosted a game. I mean they beat two out of the three teams that made it from their own conference!
My first thought was money. As it should be with the NCAA. However, Towson sold out their playoff game last year against Lehigh so that couldn’t be it, right?
Towson isn’t the only team that got snubbed. CAA teams, Richmond and JMU should have also received a bid. It baffles me how the best conference in the FCS, often referred to as the SEC of the FCS, has so many snubs.
The university, the players, the students, and the fans were robbed of one more game with a group of seniors who brought football back to my school and made Saturdays fun again. I hope the FCS selection committee can sleep at night knowing that their decisions have no integrity or merit after these decisions.