By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
EKU coach Dean Hood was more than a little upset when he found out Sunday afternoon his team wasn’t given an at-large bid to the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
And he hasn’t been shy about letting his opinion be known on the subject.
“Where the committee got it wrong was with Stony Brook and Illinois State,” Hood said on Monday. “It’s a no-brainer. Just look at it.”
Hood can certainly make a very compelling case that the Colonels should be taking the field for a playoff game this weekend.
EKU had an 8-3 record, finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference and the team’s only losses on the season were to Purdue, OVC champion Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State (8-3).
Hood believes the Colonels’ resume is better than several squads that got into 20-team field, most notably Stony Brook and Illinois State.
Stony Brook (9-2), Coastal Carolina and Liberty all finished 5-1 in the Big South, tying for the league title. Coastal Carolina earned the automatic bid by a tiebreaker.
The Colonels played Coastal Carolina early in the season and defeated the Chanticleers, 35-17, in Conway, S.C.
Stony Brook beat Coastal Carolina, 27-21. The Seawolves did have a win over Army, but lost their regular-season finale last week, 28-14, at Liberty.
“When you tell me that we beat the Big South’s conference winner at their place and the second-place team from that league gets in, I’ve got a response for you: We should be in,” Hood told the Courier-Journal on Sunday.
Illinois State (8-3, 5-3 Missouri Valley) is the only team in this year’s FCS Playoffs to have three regular-season conference losses.
The Redbirds suffered home losses to Southern Illinois (6-5) and Missouri State (3-8) and lost last week on the road at North Dakota State, 38-20.
Illinois State not only got an at-large, but earned a first-round bye. South Dakota State, the second-place team in the MVC, will host a first-round game this weekend against OVC championship Eastern Illinois.
The OVC had gotten two teams in the playoffs in four of the past six years, but Eastern Illinois was the only team selected this season.
The OVC has, admittedly, had a terrible postseason resume in recent years. No OVC team has won a playoff game since 2000, a streak of 18 straight losses.
Still, the OVC had been much stronger this season, posting an 11-4 record against non-conference FCS schools.
That wasn’t impressive enough to get the league an at-large bid.
“To me, it they are using (the league history), then they’ve got a problem with their selection process, because what matters is right here and right now,” Hood said. “If you are looking at last year, that’s like me saying, ‘Well, last down they passed the ball, so this down I’m going to blitz.’ You are a play behind. You have no relevance.”
The FCS Playoffs include 10 automatic bids and 10 at-large bids. The automatic bids went to Bethune-Cookman (Mid-Eastern Athletic), Central Arkansas (Southland), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Colgate (Patriot), Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley), Eastern Washington (Big Sky), Georgia Southern (Southern), North Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Villanova (CAA) and Wagner (Northeast).
The 10 at-large bids were given to Cal Poly (Big Sky), Appalachian State (Southern), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Montana State (Big Sky), New Hampshire (CAA), Old Dominion (CAA), Sam Houston State (Southland), South Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Stony Brook (Big South) and Wofford (Southern).
The other first-round games for Saturday are: Coastal Carolina at Bethune-Cookman; Villanova at Stony Brook and Colgate and Wagner.
EKU officials did put in a bid for a home game and likely would have played host to a first-round game if the team had been selected.
The Colonels played James Madison last year at Roy Kidd Stadium in the opening round of the playoffs and suffered a 20-17 loss.
The Colonels have made 20 appearances in the FCS playoffs, but have not won a postseason game since 1994.
The Colonels wrapped up the regular season with a 55-24 win over Murray State Nov. 10 at Roy Kidd Stadium. That was the final college game for 13 seniors, including the school’s all-time leading passer — T.J. Pryor.
EKU was off last week and would have been healthy heading into a first-round playoff matchup.
“I really believe this team has the potential to win a national championship, but we can’t even get in the dance,” Hood said. “That’s what is sad. This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s not even close.”