When the FCS playoffs selections were announced on Sunday, three OVC teams were hoping to slide off the bubble and into the field of 20. To most, the team with the best chances of doing so was the highest ranked team, and the only one of the three that went to the playoffs the year before.
Turns out, the bubble burst for all three. And one coach isn’t happy.
“Where the committee got it wrong was with Stony Brook and Illinois State,” Eastern Kentucky Coach Dean Hood told the Richmond Register on Monday. “It’s a no-brainer. Just look at it.”
While there is somewhat of a case to be made for Hood, the fact of the matter is had the Colonels taken care of Eastern Illinois or Tennessee State, we obviously wouldn’t be having this discussion now. But let’s look at the argument.
“When you tell me that we beat the Big South’s conference winner at their place and the second-place team from that league gets in, I’ve got a response for you: We should be in,” Hood told the Courier-Journal on Sunday.
I disagree that Hood has much of a case here. Stony Brook (9-2), Coastal Carolina and Liberty all finished 5-1 in the Big South, tying for the league title. Coastal Carolina earned the automatic bid by a tiebreaker. The Colonels played Coastal Carolina early in the season and defeated the Chanticleers, 35-17 on the road.
I don’t like comparing score of wins, so the fact that Stony Brook beat Coastal Carolina, 27-21 is irrelevant The Seawolves have one fewer loss than Eastern, to FBS Syracuse, and to Liberty, who finished in that 3-way tie. They also feature a win over an FCS team, Army. On comparison, EKU has 2 FCS losses, plus a FBS loss. So the win you are touting is the same win Stony Book has, and they have fewer losses, no bad losses, and better wins.
On to the other team, Illinois State (8-3, 5-3 Missouri Valley) is the only team in this year’s FCS Playoffs to have three regular-season conference losses, and two could easily qualify as “bad losses,” at home to Southern Illinois (6-5) and Missouri State (3-8). Their third loss was on the road against North Dakota State. The Redbirds not only got an at-large, but earned a first-round bye. South Dakota State, the second-place team in the MVC, will host a first-round game this weekend against OVC championship Eastern Illinois.
This is where Hood may have a decent case. So why Illinois State and not Eastern Kentucky? The perception of the conferences could be a reason: until the OVC wins in the FCS Playoffs, they’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt. And that could very well be the case here.
According to the Register, EKU officials did put in a bid for a home game and could have hosted a first-round game if the team had been selected.
“I really believe this team has the potential to win a national championship, but we can’t even get in the dance,” Hood told the Register. “That’s what is sad. This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s not even close.”