(Above) Virginia State Quarterback Tarian Ayers. Photo by James Haskins.
Tuskegee, Alabama -This past weekend the Virginia State Trojans (9-2) notched a 45-28 road victory over Tuskegee. An impressive feat considering how the Trojans stepped in to replace an Albany State team that backed out of the game at the last minute.
Yet, when the NCAA Selection Committee announced their playoff selections the Trojans were on the outside looking in. Did they get snubbed?
Breakdown of Selection Process
At the end of the season, The top seven ranked teams in each Super Region recieve a bid to the playoffs. The number one team in each region automatically recieves a bye into the second round. Virginia State is in Super Region One. Here is a look at the final regular season standings for Super Region One:
As you can see both Winston-Salem and Virginia State were on the outside looking in. However, Winston-Salem was able to qualify for playoffs over Edinboro because of “earned access.”
According to the NCAA Championship manual, “earned access to the playoffs can be gained by a conference if its highest ranked team is in the top eight of the final super regional rankings on Selection Sunday.”
Upon further review, we see Tuskegee also earned a spot in the playoffs via earned access in Super Region Two.
The final playoff spot in Super Region One came down to Virginia State or Assumption. They both finished at 9-2, but the committee felt Assumption had a stronger strength of schedule. This simply is not the case.
For starters, Assumption plays in the Northeast 10. This conference only allows members to schedule one out of conference game. The CIAA allows teams to schedule up to three. In turn, the Northeast 10 strengh of schedule looks stronger because the weaker teams have more opportunites to win versus each other.
A deeper look into Assumption’s record shows that SIX of their nine wins were against other Northeast 10 teams with a record below .500. Their average margin victory in these contests was a whopping 31.2 PPG. In other words, they built their resume off punishing bad teams.
It almost seems as if the committee doesn’t recognize the talent in the CIAA. Interestingly, after defeat SIAC Offensive Player of the year and Tuskegee University startimg quarterback Kevin Lacey had this to say on twitter.
Obviously, Virginia State fans should be be disappointed. However, there is hope. Winston-Salem is matched up against LIU Post in the playoffs. LIU Post was the top team from the Northeast 10 Conference. The same conference Assumption plays in. If Winston-Salem is able to beat LIU Post it will bolster the perception of the CIAA and HBCU football in the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee.