Sully's Big Blog! Commentary on College Football, Weekly Games, And Strange Statistics!

FCS DI Football Tourney Kicks off Saturday, April 24th!

While the American sports community was focused on the NCAA Basketball Tournament & the beginning of baseball, much of the country was left oblivious to the fact, that division one college football was being played from February 7th through April 17th.

There are 13 conferences that play in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) and 10 of them are participating in the amended 16 (usually 24) team tourney.

The IVY League always opts out of the tournament do to academic considerations and the SWAC (Southwest Athletic Conference) & MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) champions play one another in the Celebration Bowl during the same time frame.

The MEAC would have played in this year’s tournament, but were unable to meet NCAA guidelines for conference participation. Five teams have or are leaving the MEAC.

Florida A&M (Tallassee) & Bethune-Cookman (Orlando) are joining the SWAC for the 2021 season.

Hampton University (Hampton Virginia) is already in its 2nd year in the Big South Conference (BSC) & North Carolina A&T (Greensboro) is moving to the BSC for the 2021 season.

Savannah State (GA) do to financial considerations has retreated to Division II.

Here are the champions of the other 10 conferences, who received automatic berths into the NCAA’s only DI tournament in football.

The FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) playoff is not a sanctioned NCAA tournament, but rather a creation of the College Football Playoff Committee, the so-called Power 5 (P5 & G5, {group of 5} are not part of NCAA terminology or alignment) & Notre Dame. That said, here we go…

The Big Sky Champion: Weber State, 5-0; 2. Big South Champion: Monmouth, 3-0; 3. Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Champion: Delaware, 5-0; 4. Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) Champion: South Dakota State, 5-1: 5. Northeast Conference (NEC): Sacred Heart University, 3-1; 6. Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Champion: Jacksonville State, 6-1; 7. Patriot League Champion: Holy Cross, 3-0; 8. Pioneer Football League (PFL) Champion: Davidson, 4-2; 9. Southern Conference (SoCon) Champion: Virginia Military Institute (VMI): 6-1; 10. Southland Conference (SLC) Champion: Sam Houston State, 6-0.

* Records are based on games played in the spring of 2021 only, we did not factor in games played in the fall of 2020.

The 6 teams that received at large bids were as follows: 1) Southern Illinois, 4-3 (MVFC); 2. Missouri State, 5-1 (MVFC); 3. North Dakota State 6-2 (MVFC); 4. James Madison 5-0; (CAA); 5. North Dakota 4-1 (MVFC), & 6. Eastern Washington 5-1 (Big Sky)!

Interestingly, 4 of the 6 (67%) at-large selections are form the same conference, the Missouri Valley Football Conference! That fact translated to 5 of the 16 team field or 31% of the participants, hailing from one league, the MVFC!

I, for one, will be watching to see if they perform better than the B-10 basketball teams did in the NCAA B-Ball Tourney. The B-10 qualified 9 teams (for the best tournament in any sport) and had only one (Michigan) battle their way into the Sweet 16!

Four teams were seated for this year’s playoff and all play in the 1st round. In a typical year, 8 of the 24 teams are seated and awarded a 1st round bye.

The four teams that were ranked were: #4 Jacksonville State (OVC) #3 James Madison (CAA), #2 Sam Houston State (SLC) & #1 South Dakota State (MVFC)

James Madison did not win the CAA (Delaware won the conference), this was based on the Blue Hens being 4-0 in CAA play to JMU winning 3 league games! Yet, the committee saw the Dukes as the stronger squad, in fact, James Madison was ranked 1st for most of the season in the FCS polls.

Jacksonville State played 11 games when one considers the the fall of 2020, going 3-1 then and 6-1 in the spring of 2021!

Sam Houston was a scoring machine, putting up 27, 42, 43, 61, & 72 points, while holding opponents to 7, 13, 14, 16, & 17 in 5 of their 6 outings!

South Dakota State was a surprise #1 seed. Most thought Sam Houston or James Madison would be 1 & 2, with SDSU the 3rd or 4th seed. The Jackrabbits ranking is a reflection of the committees perspective of the MVFC and its relative strength.

Top Half of the Bracket (All games will be streamed on ESPN3 / all times are CST)

Holy Cross 3-0 @ #1 South Dakota State 6-1 / 1:00 p.m.

Southern Illinois 4-3 @ Weber State 5-0 / 3:00 p.m.

Sacred Heart 3-1 @ Delaware 5-0 / 7:00 p.m.

Davidson 4-2 @ #4 Jacksonville State 6-1, / 1:00 p.m.

Bottom Half of the Bracket

VMI 6-1 @ #3 James Madison 5-0 / 1:00 p.m.

Missouri State 5-1 @ North Dakota 4-1 / 3:00

Eastern Washington 5-1 @ North Dakota State 6-2 / 2:30 (Day’s best game)

Monmouth 3-0 @ #2 Sam Houston 6-0 / 11:00 a.m.

There is little question the bottom half of the bracket is much tougher than the top half!

Sam Houston will get either Eastern Washington or perennial champ, North Dakota State (8 championships in 9 years) in round II. If they win, than comes James Madison, the 2nd best program in the FCS the past 4 years!

This should be entertaining!

And as always, Enjoy the Games!

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