Last weekend the FCS, formerly Division I-AA, announced the twenty teams to participate in this year’s tournament to determine the best college football team in the FCS. Ten conference winners automatically qualify and ten at large bids make up the remaining of the field. Lehigh University Mountain Hawks, despite a 10-1 record, were not given an at large bid. In my opinion, that’s disrespectful to the team and a huge mistake by the FCS tournament selection committee.
Lehigh 2010 – 2011
In 2010, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks won the Patriot League to secure a birth in the FCS Tournament. They won the first round matchup against UNI, 14-3. In the second round, Lehigh lost to third ranked Delaware, 42-20.
Lehigh came back in 2011 to win their second consecutive Patriot League championship. Lehigh earned a first round bye and defeated Towson, 40-38 in the second round. Their season ended in the quarterfinals against number two North Dakota State, 24-0.
Lehigh was well on its way to winning their third consecutive Patriot League title, but they lost at home to Colgate on the second to last game of the season. They defeated rival Lafayette 38-21 to finish the season with a 10-1 record and ranked 10th in the polls. The Mountain Hawks were one of only four teams in the FCS with 10 wins, every one of which, except for Lehigh are in the tournament.
Why the oversight? Looking deeper into the bracket, I see even more of a snub and disrespect for Lehigh. Four of the ten at large bids were ranked lower than Lehigh. Those teams are as follows:
- South Dakota State, 8 – 3, ranked 21st
- New Hampshire, 8 – 3, ranked 13th
- Illinois State, 8 – 3, ranked 15th
- Cal Poly, 9 – 2, ranked 12th
I scratch my head wondering what the polls are for if a team ranked 10th doesn’t make it to a tournament with a field of 20 teams, yet four teams with worse records and ranking get a bid. Could it be because the Patriot League is seen as an inferior conference and only the winner is seen as worthy of the tournament?
If the conference is so poor, why was Lehigh ranked 10th? The other teams ranked lower that made the tournament could have been ranked higher if they played in a better conference. I believe that Lehigh has not been given the respect it deserves. They have competed admirably in the past two FCS tournaments, winning a game each year. Combining that with their season record and ranking is enough to convince me that Lehigh should have been selected to the FCS Tournament. The polls obviously mean nothing and should be abolished. The selection process is flawed, as the exclusion of Lehigh is ridiculous and a disrespect to the football program and the conference.