And then there were 24
You knew it had to happen — once the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs expanded to 20 teams, it was a matter of time before the FCS postseason expanded again to 24.
That time turned out to be one more year: In 2013, the Pioneer League is going to have an automatic qualifier when the 24-team field is announced. That means the Griz (or Cats) could draw San Diego or Drake, which is Bobcat coach Rob Ash’s old stomping ground, in the playoffs (the Drake Bulldogs host MSU this season, on Sept. 8).
San Diego — the Toreros — and Drake are teams generally overlooked by the FCS playoff committee, and often referred to as “mid-majors” for their lack of athletic scholarships. Now they’re instantly on the bubble.
I’ve noted before that while the FCS has 124 teams, not everyone is eligible for the playoff party. Before the Northeast and Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences got automatic qualifiers (for the 2011 expansion) there were basically 75 teams vying for 16 spots.
Then there were 95 teams vying for 20. In 2013 there will be 105 vying for 24. But I caution against expecting the newcomers — the NEC, the MEAC and the Pioneer — to pick up multiple playoff berths. We’ll have to see how many of the extra three berths in 2013 go to the Big Sky or the Colonial.
- Fritz Neighbor