There once was a time when those of us who follow FCS football would look forward to the weekly published reports of The Sports Network. It is the publication that was once appreciated by most FCS fans as it provided a national voice for “the little guys” in an arena dominated by football programs at the major level. The news reported by TSN on FCS programs may not have turned a lot of heads at the national level, but it was somewhat satisfying to know that TSN had the backs of FCS conferences and its member schools.
TSN produces its own FCS top 25 poll, awards a coach of the year, and awards the best offensive and defensive players of the year. The network has taken on the task of looking out for every conference, school and player competing at the FCS level. Well…that’s the way it used to be.
Ever since the SWAC made the decision to create its own football championship game in 1999, opting not to compete in the FCS (formally 1-AA) playoffs, TSN and the powers that be have given the SWAC the proverbial middle finger over the years by excluding SWAC member schools and SWAC players from its polling and awards considerations. Will the folks at TSN admit this? Of course not. I’m sure they will tell you that they are a network without bias towards any conference, school, or player. But as anyone who has followed the SWAC for some time knows, the position of TSN as it relates to the SWAC is nothing new. The exclusionary tactics used by TSN to limit the SWAC’s recognition in its polling and awards system have been par for the course…until this year.
Things have actually gotten worse!
We are now mid-way through the 2010 football season and more than ever TSN has given the SWAC the middle finger in ways that I couldn’t have imagine.
As it stands, Jackson State QB Cassy Therriault is the SWAC’s lone candidate for the Walter Payton Award. Therriault currently leads the nation in passing yards per game, is 2nd in total passing yards, and has earned the right to be considered with a current QB rating of 150.4. I will give TSN credit for recognizing Therriault as a candidate, but that is where the credit ends.
Warren is currently 2nd in the nation in rushing yards behind Colgate’s Nate Eachus who is on the Payton Watch List. Warren only trails Eachus by 83 yards, but has a greater per carry average with fewer attempts. Last week Warren scored all 5 touchdowns (4 rushing, 1 receiving) for Grambling in a 38-28 victory over Alcorn State. He finished the game with 202 yards rushing on 29 carries (an average of 6.9 yards per carry).
Nick Deriso made a telling observation a couple of weeks ago after TSN updated its Payton Watch List to include J-State’s Therriault;
Jarringly, this week’s update included quarterback Casey Therriault of Jackson State. No offense to Therriault who, after all, leads the FCS in passing yards and total offense. But if the judges have been watching Jackson, then surely they saw Warren hang 256 yards on JSU in a 28-21 victory for Grambling just over two weeks ago, right?
Warren is on pace to break a number of school and conference rushing records indicated in a school release this week;
Warren, a potential Walter Payton Award candidate, finds himself in a position that he never imagined: Within striking distance of the Grambling State individual rushing records for most yards by a senior (1,401 Walter Dean, 1990), most yards in a season (1,417 Eric Gant, 1992) and Eric Gant’s all-time career rushing record of 3,795 yards. Warren is also only 258 yards away from passing Walter Payton for fifth on the Southwestern Athletic Conference career rushing leaders list.
Furthermore, Warren is in a position to break the NCAA (FCS) record for highest average gain per rush in a season. The record of 7.6 was set by Portland State’s Ryan Fuqua in 2001. Warren currently stands at 7.1 with 5 games remaining on Grambling’s schedule.
And then there is Arkansas-Pine Bluff senior wide receiver Raymond Webber. Webber, a native from St. Louis, is #1 in the nation in receptions per game, #1 in the nation in receiving yards per game, and #3 in the nation in total receiving yards. When you compare Webber’s stats/rankings to that of Southern Utah’s Tysson Poots – who is also on the Payton Watch List. Poots ranks in the same categories at #6, #3 and #1 respectfully. In UAPB’s season opener, Webber had a 10 catch, 123 yard performance in a 31-10 loss to FBS opponent Texas-El Paso.
Both Warren and Webber have played in nationally televised games. Webber plays again tonight on ESPNU as UAPB takes on Alcorn State.
So why isn’t Warren nor Webber on TSN’s Payton Watch List?
Only the folks at TSN can answer that question, but I don’t think there is a justifiable answer. How can TSN justify having multiple players from other conferences on its watch list? As of post time, there are 4 players listed from the Big Sky Conference, 3 from the CAA and 3 from the Southern Conference. However, the SWAC has 3 players listed among the nation’s leaders in passing, rushing, and receiving and yet TSN can only justify listing Therriault as a candidate for its award?
Oh, let not forget, the Eddie Robinson Award, the Walter Payton Award, and Buck Buchanan Award are all named after SWAC legends. If that isn’t sending a big middle finger to the SWAC…