THE WACKY ME-AC II Here‘s why Morgan State won the MEAC‘s automatic berth to the FCS playoffs
by Lut Williams
There were only two out of a possible nine scenarios that had to come to fruition for Morgan State, one of four second-place teams with 5-2 conference records heading into Saturday‘s games, to come Saturday with a share of the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference title and the league‘s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
One of them happened.
The Bears and new coach Lee Hull had to either finish in a five-way tie with front-runner North Carolina A&T and three other teams at 6-2, or they had to finish in one of three four-way ties for the conference crown at 6-2 with A&T, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.
First, the Bears had to win their 1 p.m. game at home vs. Delaware State. That suspense was over early as MSU led 34-7 at halftime en route to a 69-7 rout of the Hornets. The Bears had their 6-2.
Secondly, the Bears needed South Carolina State to win its 1:30 p.m. home game vs. Norfolk State.
SCSU got out to 23-10 halftime lead and appeared ready to pull away to an easy win. But NSU clawed back to within 23-17 in the third quarter before the Bulldogs settled for a 30-20 win, accomplishing Mission Two for the Bears as SC State was now finished at 6-2.
Third, and most importantly, Morgan State needed North Carolina Central to knock off first-place North Carolina A&T, who was 6-1 and played at 2 p.m. on the 5-2 Eagles‘ home field in Durham, N.C. At about 4:45 p.m., A&T was stopped on fourth down in the game‘s final minute trailing 21-14 allowing that apple to also fall Morgan‘s way. Both A&T and NC Central were now at 6-2.
Well, just after halftime of the A&T game, NCCU Sports Information Director Kyle Serba had told me that there was no way Central could win the automatic bid if Morgan State won its game. Around that time, Morgan was up 51-7, and that decision was a fait accompli.
Then, looking over the nine possible scenarios sent out from the MEAC office governing tie-breaking scenarios for the automatic bid, it hit me! The Bears were in with the automatic bid whether Bethune-Cookman, who I saw at the time was tied with Florida A&M at 10 with three minutes left in the game, won or lost. The Bears would share the MEAC title with four others if B-CU won, and with three others if B-CU lost, but would get the automatic bid in either case.
As it turned out, there is a five-way tie as MSU shares the MEAC title with NC A&T, NC Central, B-CU and SC State, all at 6-2. And Morgan gets the automatic bid.
The Bears have the best head-to-head record vs. the tied teams. In other words, head-to-head in this case means head-to-head against the other four teams.
Morgan State‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-1 (Beat SC State and NC Central, lost to A&T, did not play B-CU). By the way, MSU beat both SC State and NC Central with TDs in the final minute of the game.
NC Central‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-2 (Beat SC State and A&T, lost to Morgan State and B-CU).
SC State‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-2 (beat A&T and B-CU, lost to Morgan State and NC Central).
Bethune-Cookman‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 1-1 (Beat NC Central and lost to SC State, did not play A&T nor Morgan State).
A&T‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 1-2 (Beat Morgan State, lost to SC State and NC Central, did not play B-CU).
As it turns out, not playing every team in the league and who you play or dont play, can hurt or help you.
From the list of nine tiebreakers for the league‘s automatic bid released from the MEAC office Friday, the one below in bold, the last one on the list, No. 9, is the one that prevailed:
MEAC Tiebreaker: 1. If NCAT wins: (AQ: NCAT) 2. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, SCSU loses and MSU loses: (AQ: NCCU) 3. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, SCSU loses (AQ: NCAT) 4. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU loses, and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU) 5. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, SCSU loses and MSU loses (AQ: BCU) 6. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, and SCSU wins (AQ: MSU) 7. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU loses and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU) 8. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins and SCSU loses (AQ: BCU) 9. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins, and SCSU wins: (AQ: MSU) AQ - Automatic Qualifyer
Congratulations to Lee Hull and the Morgan State Bears. And you may now turn in your MEAC Coach of the Year ballots!
THE WACKY ME-AC Good luck figuring out the MEAC where as many as five football teams are vying this weekend for the title
by Lut Williams
Have you seen all the scenarios for who wins the 2014 Mid Eastern Athletic Conference championship and automatic berth to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs based on the results from this, the final weekend of the regular season?
I‘m not sure who the guru is in the MEAC office who figured out the nine possible scenarios – and yes, I did say nine – but it‘s not a job I would want. I have a hard time figuring out things when it‘s just two or three teams involved. This time it‘s five!
In simple terms, if North Carolina A&T, the current first-place team at 6-1 in the MEAC, wins its 2 p.m. game Saturday at traditional long-time, I-40 rival North Carolina Central – one of four teams tied for second with 5-2 marks – the Aggies win the title outright and get the league‘s automatic playoff berth.
That part, and the fact that the Aggie and Eagle fans will pack the joint (O‘Kelly-Riddick Stadium) Saturday to find out, is easy.
If North Carolina Central wins however, oh my goodness, look out! That‘s when the other eight scenarios come into play based on how the other three second-place teams do on Saturday. Those teams include: 1) Morgan State, who closes the season in a 1 p.m. game at home vs. Delaware State; 2) South Carolina State, who also plays at home at 1 p.m. vs. Norfolk State; and 3) Bethune-Cookman, who closes out its season in Orlando, Florida vs. Florida A&M in the Florida Classic at 2 p.m.
If all five teams finish at 6-2, they all will share the MEAC title. The tie-breakers outlined below will determine who gets the automatic FCS playoff bid.
Here are the tie-breaking conclusions based on Saturday‘s outcomes: MEAC Tiebreaker: 1. If NCAT wins: (AQ: NCAT) 2. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, SCSU loses and MSU loses: (AQ: NCCU) 3. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, SCSU loses (AQ: NCAT) 4. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU loses, and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU) 5. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, SCSU loses and MSU loses (AQ: BCU) 6. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, and SCSU wins (AQ: MSU) 7. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU loses and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU) 8. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins and SCSU loses (AQ: BCU) 9. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins, and SCSU wins: (AQ: MSU)
What you have above is a simple breakdown. The official dizzying version from the MEAC office – the how tos, why comes, ifs, ands and buts – includes nearly 20 paragraphs and about 600 words. After head-to-head competition, part of it is a nondescript “points system based on the tied teams‘ non-conference record.“ Really? How‘s that work? Read it for yourself and see if you‘ve got it down.
Basically, other than the first option outlined earlier – A&T winning outright – there is one two-way tie possibility, three (3) three-way tie possibilities, three (3) four-way tie possibilities and one (1) five-way tie possibility.
As you can see from above, A&T gets the automatic bid in only two instances – 1) if it wins Saturday or, 2) it loses, Bethune and SC State lose and Morgan State wins. Keep that in mind if you can, Aggie fans.
B-CU lands the bid in two circumstances, as does Morgan State. NC Central prevails in three different ways.
SC State, the leader in the clubhouse before last week‘s results and with wins over both A&T and Bethune, doesn‘t get the automatic bid in any scenario. Go figure!
So, seeing as how the A&T and Bethune games start at 2, we should be figuring out the possible implications of the outcomes of the other two games before those games are over.
It should make for an interesting Saturday.
And, oh yeah, I‘d hold off on those coach of the year ballots until all the results are in.
And, after all that, who gets an at-large bid to the playoffs? Figure that one out.
HOOPS PURGATORY - PAIN BEFORE PLEASURE
While it‘s fingernail-biting time on the gridiron, it‘s handwringting time on the hardwood.
Get a gander at some of the opening results for the Div. I HBCU basketball programs:
NOVEMBER 14 Clemson 86, Florida A&M 41 NC State 93, Jackson State 58 Miami 84, Howard 49 George Washington 92, Grambling State 40 Indiana 116, Mississippi Valley State 65 Iowa 90, Hampton 56 Hawaii 85, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 57 Oregon 107, Coppin State 65 California 91, Alcorn State 57
Ouch!!! Those were the blowouts. ‘A bad start,‘ for these guys would be an understatement. Expect more of the same.
These were the encouraging losses from the same night. Eastern Washington 86, Texas Southern 62 Penn State 61, Morgan State 48 UNC 76, NC Central 60 Dayton 76, Alabama A&M 52 Washington 77, South Carolina State 59 TCU 71, Prairie View A&M 54 Eastern Kentucky 76, Savannah State 53 Louisiana Tech 85, Southern 76 Virginia Tech 71, Maryland-Eastern Shore 46
OK. Take from those scores that Morgan State, NC Central, SC State and Savannah State will be in the top half of the MEAC race. Ditto for Texas Southern, Southern, Alabama A&M and Prairie View in the SWAC.
And the wins: N. C. A&T 91, (Div. III) Greensboro College 61 Alabama State 105, (NAIA) Auburn-Montgomery 64 Norfolk State 81, (Div. II) Pfeiffer 43
The jury‘s still out on them.
The biggest win so far was Delaware State‘s 77-75 overtime victory at Penn (remember NC Central over NC State a year ago) on Nov. 15. Go ahead and pencil in DelState as MEAC champ!
There have been a few more close calls, a couple of wins and plenty more blowouts.
This, “until the rise of morn“ (a Koranic verse), i.e. until the conference seasons start.
Are we headed for a subdivision in Div. I basketball (Basketball Championship Subdivision, BCS). Don‘t be surprised.
Football takes funny bounces for Albany State, Winston-Salem
Last weekend, both Albany State and Winston Salem State suffered from the old sports adage about the “ball taking funny bounces.”
ASU, looking to repeat as champions of the SIAC,lost the battle of the lead and succumbed to Tuskegee 47-41 (bounce). 542 miles east of Montgomery Alabama in Durham North Carolina, WSSU fought back from a 14-7 deficit to take the lead only to lose it to Virginia State 21-17 (bounce). That wasn’t the only thing the Rams lost. It knocked them out of an opportunity to return to post-season play for the fourth consecutive time.
In only their second year of eligibility for the NCAA Division II playoffs, the Golden Tigers are back into the post-season and will also host round one against the Wolves of the University of West Georgia. Last year, in their first post-season appearance since dropping their annual Thanksgiving Day game with Alabama State, the Goldens were edged 30-27 by North Alabama.
The Tigers enter the playoffs this weekend after wrestling with a determined ASU football program for bragging rights as champions of the SIAC for two years straight.
The two hungry elevens exchanged leads several times in the contest before 7193 shivering fans at Montgomery Alabama’s Cramton Bowl.
The fourth quarter became the most dramatic 3:09 of the entire game. The lead see-sawed back and forth from the start of the final stanza: ASU 34-31 at 7:23-Tuskegee 38-34 at 4:26-Albany State 41-38 at 1:42.
Then, from their own 36 yard line with 1:42 remaining in the game and trailing, Tuskegee launched a 64 yard drive that ended with a three yard rush to the end zone by senior Michael Thornton. Then the ensuing kickoff to Albany was muffed and ended up in the end zone for a two point Tuskegee safety. That forced Albany State to free kick the ball back to Tuskegee who then smothered it to preserve the win and hand the Goldens their second championship of the four game series. The SIAC west now leads the championship series 3-1.
This is the fourth trip to the Division II playoffs for UWG and their second since 1998 when they lost to Carson-Newman 28-24. Before then, they succumbed to Carson-Newman in 1996, 1995, then in 1990 to Catawba. The Wolves have faced SIAC opponents 25 times since they brought football back to the campus in 1981 and hold a 20-5 advantage in the series.
Kickoff for round one of the NCAA Division II tournament is scheduled for noon Saturday.Higdon
XTRA POINTS: I agree with my friend and Onnidan colleague Lut Williams in expressing disappointment with officialdom of the CIAA in failing to publicize and ban any media from this year’s annual athletic awards banquet Last year, an incident involving Virginia State and Winston Salem derailed the banquet, forced the CIAA to cancel the championship game and doomed the annual Pioneer Bowl when the conference dropped out. Yes, it was embarrassing for the conference but I think the CIAA missed a golden opportunity to bury the unfortunate incident for good by using that same media to express their regrets but pointing out the steps they have taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again…There are two openings for HBCU head coaches at Lane and Prairie View. I have a candidate in mind for either post. Keith Higdon is current assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Tuskegee. He has been a valuable asset to the Goldens since leaving the confines the Clark-AU (he was interim coach for a minute. Letting him go was a major mistake for the Panthers). The trouble will be getting him off the Skegee campus……..
KARMA OR WHAT? Keeping proven media outlets from the CIAA Awards Banquet was a mistake
by Lut Williams
At this time a year ago the CIAA was smarting from an embarrassing assault on the Winston-Salem State starting quarterback by a Virginia State player at a leaguesponsored awards luncheon the day before the championship game between the two teams.
That assault, which garnered national headlines including a lead story on ESPN and other major sports outlets, was literally a black eye for the victim, WSSU QB Rudy Johnson, and the conference, whose commissioner all but admitted as much during the preseason kickoff to this year‘s season.
While everyone has tried to put that dark chapter behind them, I‘m not sure the conference did the right thing in having a closed event Thursday evening for its 2014 Awards Banquet, the same affair where a year ago the unfortunate event took place and this year featured the same two teams in attendance and about to do battle in Saturday‘s championshp game.
Not publicizing the event or letting the media know of it does the league no good.
It was a chance to publicize what is going right with the league, honor its best players and coaches and celebrate a year relatively free of incident. That‘s not to mention the photo opportunities of the players and coaches smiling with their respectives awards and trophies which I, among others, need and would use.
In all fairness, many of these awards luncheons or banquets are by invitation only. But the media is usually welcomed if not encouraged to come. Not this time. Those media who did inquire were told that it was a closed affair, with no media allowed.
Whether this came from some xenophobic-type fear that ESPN or other major media outlets would be waiting with cameras pointed to chronicle the next ugly chapter in the sordid drama or some attempt to protect both players and coaches from media scrutiny, the decision was wrong.
First of all, ESPN or other major sports outlets are not coming. Even if you had a fight a year ago that shook up the sports world, they‘re not coming. They‘re too busy hanging on every Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel or Ben Roethelisberger or Peyton Manning word or act to worry about the CIAA. If they were so interested in what‘s going on in the CIAA, they would have reported that the Virginia State starting quarterback was arrested for drunk driving Sunday and suspended from the title game because of it.
But that tidbit doesn‘t warrant national coverage.
No, who it hurt were the people and outlets like mine, and others that I won‘t name here, who cover the CIAA on a regular basis and do everything possible to cover the conference in a fair manner, not just when a black eye rises to the level of being a national story.
Truth is, I may not have made the one-hour trip to Durham from my home in Greensboro to cover the banquet. Maybe I would have just sent a photographer. But at least I would have known that I was welcome.
PLAYOFF SCENARIOS - DIV. II
Champions will be crowned this week in the CIAA and SIAC but we won‘t know whether those teams will advance to the NCAA Div. II playoffs until 5 p.m.
Sunday when the 24-team playoff field is announced by the selection committee. The committee will select the top six teams from each of four Super Regions.
The CIAA, which is in Super Region I, has both its championship game participants in the Top Ten in the region going into Saturday‘s championship game.
South Division champ Winston-Salem State, at 9-1, is fourth in the region while North Division champ Virginia State, 8-2, is seventh. More than likely only one will make the field. But there are possibilities for both to get in.
A WSSU win Saturday asures that the Rams will get in while a loss by VSU likely knocks the Trojans out of the playoffs. But last-game wins or losses by other ranked teams could have an impact on the Trojans‘ fate. And in just about every case in Super Region I, ranked teams are playing other ranked teams.
The No. 1 team in the region, 10-0 Bloomsburg, will face No. 8 Slippery Rock (8-2) in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship game. The second place team in the region, 10-0 Concord of the Mountain East Conference, is on the road for its season-ender Saturday against the No. 6 team, 8-1 Shepherd. PSAC member West Chester (9-1), the No. 3 team in the region, closes the regular season at unranked IUP (5-4) and American International (8-2), out of the Northeast-10 Conference, the No. 5 ranked team, closes its season against unranked LIU-Post (7-3).
A win by VSU coupled with losses by any of the teams ranked ahead of it could move the Trojans into the top six and drop one of those teams out. The question would then be how far would WSSU fall with a loss.
There‘s a similar scenario in Super Region II where both SIAC championship game participants, Tuskegee and Albany State, reside and are in the top ten.
Tuskegee (8-2) enters Saturday‘s title game in Montgomery, Alabama ranked third in the region while Albany State (7-2) is seventh.
A Tuskegee win gets the Golden Tigers into the playoffs for the second straight season. Albany State needs a win and a loss by one of the teams ranked ahead of it for a shot at making the field. One difference with the Super Region I scenario is that none of the ranked teams in Region II are playing other ranked teams.
Those teams include No. 1, Lenoir-Rhyne (10-0) who closes at home against Catawba (6-3), No. 2 Delta State (8-1) who faces 1-8 Mississippi College, No. 4 North Alabama (8-1) who takes on (5-6) West Alabama, No. 5 Valdosta State (7-2) who faces (6-4) Florida Tech or No. 6 (8-2) West Georgia who faces (3-6) Shorter.
PLAYOFF SCENARIOS - FCS
Any chance of the MEAC getting three teams in the FCS playoffs all but went by the wayside with 2-7 Hampton‘s 40-35 upset of nationally-ranked Bethune-Cookman Thursday night.
B-CU entered the game tied with North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State for first place in the MEAC with 5-1 records. The loss not only knocks the Wildcats out of a first-place tie, but it all but ends the chance that the league would get three teams in the playoffs for the first time in history. As it stood prior to the game, B-CU, A&T and SC State could have all finished the season at 10-2 and with only one loss in conference play. Now it‘s left to see how A&T and SC State finish out the season.
A&T plays at winless Savannah State Saturday while SCSU travels to dangerous Morgan State.