Sunday morning marked the end of one season and the beginning of another. With the conclusion of yesterday’s games, the FCS football regular season is officially over, and the remaining 24 teams will attempt to make a run for a National Championship.
The Sam Houston State Bearkats, champions of the Southland Conference and the lone undefeated team in the FCS, had a terrific regular season. On paper, the Kats are seen as one of the most dominant teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. They finished atop the STATS FCS Top 25 and coach’s polls, the team’s average margin of victory is 28.3 points per game and the Bearkat offense ranks first nationally in total offense and scoring offense, and the unit also ranks second in passing offense.
However, the FCS Football Championship Selection Show was Sunday morning and the playoff selection committee showed their true colors. The committee slotted SHSU as the fifth seed for the upcoming playoffs, which caused social media to backlash.
You're telling me that these 10 committee members know more than all the coaches and FCS media members combined, really ?
— Rod Slick (@TheRealRodSlick) November 20, 2016
The top four seeds are as followed: North Dakota State (10-1), Eastern Washington (10-1), Jacksonville State (10-1) and James Madison (10-1). Looking at these four teams’ schedules it’s clear that the teams ranked ahead of SHSU had a more difficult path to the playoffs. NDSU won a head to head matchup with EWU, topped FBS school Iowa in Week 3 and played five playoff teams.
Like NDSU, EWU also notched a win against an FBS school. They beat Washington State to open the season and played three teams whom winded up making the final playoff cut.
The Bearkats road was a lot weaker. Teams usually open the season with a strong opponent; the Kats had FBS New Mexico scheduled for Week 1 action, but the Lobos withdrew their offer close to the start of the season. The sudden cancel caused SHSU to scramble for a game, which is why the Bearkats opened the season against DII Oklahoma Panhandle State. Throughout the season, the Kats played only one playoff team, with two of their 11 opponents finishing with winning records.
People believe that SHSU’s strength of schedule is the reason for the No. 5 seeding.
Our strength of schedule is what kept us down. Cent. Ark was the only team we played that ended with a winning record.
— Alyssa Rutherford (@arutherfordd) November 20, 2016
— Blake (@thebsub) November 20, 2016
The Southland Conference didn’t help with the Kats’ seeding either. Without counting SHSU or unseeded Central Arkansas, the 11-team conference finished the regular season with a combined record of 90-180. Only four of the eleven Southland teams finished with winning records: SHSU (11-0), UCA (9-2), Southeastern Louisiana (7-4) and McNeese State (6-5).
its not SHSU fault that the conference is weak, they beat everyone on the schedule, yes it was a snub, hope they hang 70ppg
— 💎🏁Keenan Watson🏁💎 (@MrBuddyGarrity) November 20, 2016
One key thing to question with the committee is how they ultimately determined the seeding. The NCAA Simple Ratings System (SRS) is a medium in which some rankings are formed. The top three seeds fall in order on the SRS, except for No. 4. On the scale, SHSU sits in the fourth spot with a 1.35, whereas James Madison sits at No. 7 with a 1.09. The SRS helps create rankings by taking into account point differential and strength of schedule.
Complete garbage. This is going to be an even more motivated football team. https://t.co/rEkpt6LY5Z
— Jim Thrasher (@thrashman10) November 20, 2016
The Bearkats will begin their quest for a National Championship on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. at Bowers Stadium. The team will have a first round bye and will play the winner of Chattanooga (8-3) vs. Weber State (7-4). To purchase tickets visit www.gobearkats.com.
More reaction from the Bearkats being named the fifth seed in the FCS playoffs:
@KatFansDotCom Its an outright disgrace let's not forget KATS 1 in their first poll The chair had no business being on
— Cowboy Fan (@Cowboy_620) November 21, 2016
yes. Complete snub. The FCS committee just blew their credibility.
— 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆 (@City_903) November 21, 2016