By Chuck Burton
College Sports Journal
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — Everyone wants to know this time of year: Can my team make the FCS playoffs?
Rather than let confusion reign, I decided to spell it all out in black and white: which teams are eligible for the postseason, and which are not.
Now that the FCS regular season is over, here are all the teams that are playoff eligible.
In order for a team to be play in the FCS playoffs, there are two possible paths to make it into the 20 team playoff field:
* Be in a conference with an autobid (Big Sky, Big South, CAA, MEAC, Missouri Valley, NEC, OVC, Patriot, Southland, SoCon), and win that autobid based on the criteria spelled out by each conference.
* Do not win the autobid, but achieve at least 7 wins against Division I opponents in order to qualify as one of ten at large teams to the tournament. The official NCAA playoff handbook says that having less than seven “may” jeopardize a teams chances, leaving a little wiggle room for inclusion with less wins, but practical experience tells us that the NCAA Division I Football Committee isn’t likely to go there.
A case in point from last season. Montana had a record string of 17 consecutive playoff bids and the financial clout that comes from annually leading all post-season teams in attendance. But with an overall record of 7-4, a third-place finish in the Big Sky Conference and just six D-I wins, the Grizzlies were left out of the 20-team field.
All Division I FCS teams are eligible to potentially qualify as an at-large team, provided they meet the 7 D-I win criteria. The list below puts teams without seven wins in the ineligible category, because the NCAA has never taken an at-large team with less than seven D-I wins to the postseason.
The Ivy League specifically prohibits any of its teams to qualify for the postseason due to league rules.
Certain SWAC teams also choose not to play in the postseason since it conflicts with traditional Thanksgiving weekend games, and the winners of both SWAC divisions are contractually obligated to play in the SWAC Championship Game instead of the playoffs as well.
Big Sky: 9-2 Montana
Big South: 8-3 Stony Brook
CAA: 9-2 Towson
MEAC: 9-2 Norfolk State
Missouri Valley: 10-1 North Dakota State
NEC: 8-3 Albany
OVC: 7-3 Tennessee Tech
Patriot: 10-1 Lehigh
SoCon: 9-2 Georgia Southern
Southland: 11-0 Sam Houston State
9-2 Drake (7 D-I wins)
9-2 Northern Iowa
9-2 Old Dominion
9-2 Montana State
9-2 San Diego (7 D-I wins)
8-3 Alabama A&M (7 D-I wins, finished in second place in SWAC East)
8-3 Appalachian State
8-3 Bethune-Cookman (7 D-I wins)
8-3 Central Arkansas
8-3 New Hampshire
8-3 Wofford (7 D-I wins)
7-4 Eastern Kentucky
7-4 Illinois State
7-4 Jacksonville State
7-4 James Madison
7-4 Murray State
7-4 South Carolina State
9-1 Harvard (Ivy league chooses not to participate)
9-2 Jackson State (ineligible for the NCAA postseason due to APR penalties)
8-3 North Dakota (ineligible, transitioning to D-I status)
7-4 Bryant (ineligible, transitioning to D-I status)
7-4 Coastal Carolina (6 D-I wins, cannot achieve 7 D-I threshold)
7-4 Delaware (6 D-I wins, cannot achieve 7 D-I win threshold)
7-4 Liberty (6 D-I wins, cannot achieve 7 D-I win threshold)
7-3 Brown (Ivy League chooses not to participate)
7-3 Alabama State (SWAC, plays on Thanksgiving Day)
6-3 South Alabama (ineligble, transitioning to D-I status)