FCS Playoff Format Change? Why Not?

North Carolina A&T head coach, Sam Washington made a statement recently.
“I think (the playoffs are) the ultimate goal of this football team. I wouldn’t mind seeing something a little different. It’s all about getting better and doing something that’s greater than yourself. I’m looking forward to that challenge one day. It may not be tomorrow, but one day I really would like to get in the playoff hunt. I do know this: If there’s a will, there’s a way. We’re going to keep hope alive that we have an opportunity one day to compete for the FCS national championship.”
Doesn’t it seem funny that a coach from one of the two HBCU conference says that he’d rather be in the FCS Playoffs? Now, I understand their (the Mid-Eastern and Southwestern Athletic Conferences) desire to create their own entity. Even calling it the HBCU National Championship. But I think this is probably hurting them overall.
To me, it seems cruel to automatically strip an entire group of teams, there’s twenty (20) of them, from what should be the ultimate goal – an overall National Championship. While we’re at it, you could lump the Ivy League into this conversation as well. The big difference is that the student/athletes playing in the Ivy League are probably less concerned about these things and more concerned towards preparing for their lives ahead. But that’s a very generalized potential stereotype, and surely their champion would like to see how they would compete against other FCS powers. Ivy League presidents have been reluctant to change. In fact, they are the one conference in FCS who gets an automatic bid to the playoffs, but abstains from participating every year.
The recent and sudden defection of Hampton University, from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to the Big South Conference, was seen as a means of potentially finding its way to the playoffs by many fans and pundits on all matters of social media. And it makes sense, as the MEAC has their champion tied into the Armed Forces Celebrations Bowl against the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion. North Carolina A&T has made the playoffs as a member of the MEAC, but had to qualify by NOT being the conference champion. The juxtapose of that situation could be used in any sports trivia riddle.
So how about a slight change to the FCS Playoffs?
  • You know the other FCS conferences are not going to be interested in giving up the bids they already see as their own for teams from the MEAC, SWAC or even the Ivy League, if they ever chose to participate. The fairest thing to do would be to add two more bids to the field.
  • The FCS Playoff Committee could inform these conferences, the MEAC or SWAC, if their champion would be chosen as an at-large, meaning The Committee deemed them having accomplished enough to warrant a spot in the tournament.
  • If either of those champions, the MEAC or SWAC, are deemed worthy, they can choose to participate in the tournament or take their conference’s automatic bid in the Celebrations Bowl. If they elected to play in the tournament, the next best team from that conference could fill that spot.
  • The two new spots in the tournament would play against the #7 and #8 National seeds in the First Round, meaning six teams would now receive byes.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it could stop a mass exodus from the MEAC and it would give their teams an option.