College football top 25: Florida A&M, UT Martin round out FCS power rankings despite missing a playoff field

With the conclusion of the regular season in the Football Championship Subdivision, the postseason bracket was established. Before we move on to the playoffs, however, two teams that didn’t make it — Florida A&M and UT Martin — deserve a mention, especially as they round out this week’s power rankings.

I find it fascinating that one of the common phrases and battle cries of the Division I championship level is that they get it right by having a true playoff system where their national champion is determined on the field. While this is true on the surface, there are warts when you peel off the layers to analyze them.

The Skyhawks and Rattlers had playoff-worthy seasons but fell short. UT Martin’s death did not come on the field but in a coin toss against Southeast Missouri State. Florida A&M lost to North Carolina (in a game that was more competitive than it should have been given FAMU’s understaffing) and Jackson State to open the season but is on a nine-game winning streak.

Nowhere in FCS football does faulty logic show up more than on selection Sunday. As widespread as allegations of the Power Five or SEC bias are in the FBS, there are similar complaints in the FCS when it comes to “less than” conferences. Teams outside of the Big Sky, the Missouri Valley Football Conference, or the Colonial Athletic Association have a harder time getting the respect they deserve.

For example, if UT Martin had won the coin flip, surely Southeast Missouri State would have gotten an overall bid because of their impressive 9-2 record, right? Maybe not. The committee could have knocked it out for Ohio Valley Conference attendance and instead awarded the offer to a Montana squad that has lost four games, all to ranked teams and playoff entrants, simply because the Grizzlies are a brand name of a Power Conference .

Her nudges are layered. The playoff selection committee, top-25 voters, and pundits have long shown a bias toward programming from HBCU conferences, citing both the historic lack of postseason success and lack of conference strength as reasons. As a result, these teams often don’t rank highly or are even considered serious contenders for open bids.

One of the reasons people took action against Florida A&M to get into the postseason is that they lost 59-3 to Jackson State while last season they only lost that game 7-6. It’s funny because the 2021 Rattlers team played a similar schedule to this year’s team — they had one regular-season loss to an FBS team and one loss to Jackson State — but what about last year’s loss doesn’t mention is that it took place during a torrential downpour in Miami. Don’t we also reward teams when they win nine games in a row?

Regarding the polls and the playoff committee, it might be time to review your expectations. This is no disrespect or shame for teams like Montana as it keeps its dreams of a national championship alive. This is more about the processes and biases in place that have prevented teams like UT Martin and Florida A&M from achieving their goals.

Biggest Move: North Carolina Central – No. 22 (Last week: UR)
New Arrivals: Florida A&M, Eastern Kentucky
Eliminated: Delaware, Chattanooga, Mercer, Princeton, North Dakota