With NFCS teams now eligible for the national polls, will voters actually take notice?
Entry No. 37 | September 10, 2007
|Will Appalachian State's upset of Michigan actually get voters' attention?
So now one of the national polls has cleared the way for voters to include teams that do not play in the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as I-A. How rich.
Before I joined the staff at Oklahoma, I spent 10 years at Illinois State, a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, previously known as I-AA. And while it has nothing to do with this column, I never minded for a second the I-AA name.
In those 10 years at Illinois State, 10 great years by the way, I can count on my hands the number of poll-voting reporters that sat in my press box. If we were lucky, one or two of our games were televised regionally.
In other words, those with the power to vote for Illinois State or its opponents rarely saw the team play on television and made almost no effort to see the Redbirds in person.
Now, that same group has a voting option. Do you wonder how educated they will be in this process? Me too.
Appalachian State gets big-time kudos for upsetting Michigan. What a great thrill for that school and really just about everyone in college football except those dressed in Maize and Blue.
But now that there is clearance to vote the Mountaineers up in the polls, what exactly do we know about their opponent in week No. 6?
If schools in the championship division are now eligible for consideration in a national poll, the media members carrying the votes better reschedule their autumn travel. They need to start getting to some of those championship subdivision games. And rather than keep up with the 119 schools that were previously on the poll radar there will be a need to get familiar with about 200.
If a team beats the team that beat Michigan doesn’t it too deserve consideration? And so on and so on.
I have no problem whatsoever if a national poll wants to include more teams for consideration. Appy State may be completely deserving. But if the same media that are voting in that poll don’t make an overt effort to familiarize themselves with all of the candidates, this whole idea of addition is nothing but a publicity stunt.
There is some very good football being played at, forgive me, the I-AA level. I loved working those games. Too often I worked them with just three or four reporters, none of whom had ever seen the light of a ballot.
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And here’s just a sidelight from a different perspective on scheduling. The one group of players that loves the opportunity for FBS to host NFCS teams is the players on those NFCS squads. They rarely play before crowds of much more than 10,000 and their media exposure is lean. Those early season games provide a wonderful opportunity for a bunch of young men that dearly love just getting the chance. I traveled with some NFCS (I-AA) teams that got clobbered by the big boys. I never heard any of the players on my team complain. Playing on that stage was something to be coveted.
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