There is another group of people with a keen eye on games in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this weekend.
The Football Championship Subdivision’s 11-member selection committee meets in Indianapolis this weekend to determine the 24-team playoff field, a 24-team field that may include teams from the SWAC and MEAC as at-large teams.
This weekend marks the traditional end of the FCS regular season, with the playoffs beginning next weekend. The committee will announce the FCS playoff field during its selection show Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Central) on ESPNU.
The SWAC and MEAC champions are scheduled to meet in the inaugural Celebration Bowl Dec. 19 in Atlanta. Teams are still eligible for at-large bids despite both conferences no longer having automatic bids in the playoffs.
Tennessee Tech Athletic Director Mark Wilson, the selection committee chairman, said Friday in a telephone interview the committee plans to evaluate all eligible at-large teams after this weekend’s games. Factors such as quality wins and strength of schedule will be taken into account in determining the 14 at-large teams that will join the 10 automatic qualifiers in the field.
“No matter what conference they’re from, they’re looked at the same,” he said.
Eight teams will receive seeds, and Wilson said the remaining 16 teams are matched up primarily on geography. The first two rounds are based on potential geographic matchups.
Wilson said committee members received information from the SWAC regarding Prairie View A&M, and the MEAC sent information regarding teams still in the conference hunt. When asked about conferences lobbying for at-large bid, he said there is not a lot of it going on.
“I wouldn’t say, per se, that there is lobbying. We’re not going to base (our decisions) on it,” he said.
In the MEAC, No. 16 North Carolina A&T (9-1, 7-0) is undefeated in league play. The Aggies hosts rival North Carolina Central (7-3, 6-1) this weekend, with an Aggie win punching NC A&T’s ticket to the Celebration Bowl. A NCCU win forces a three-way tie between NC A&T, NCCU and Bethune-Cookman (8-2, 6-1). The MEAC broke down the tiebreaker scenarios in a statement.
B-CU takes on Florida A&M in the Florida Classic Saturday.
In the SWAC, No. 22 Grambling State (8-2) has already clinched a spot in the Dec. 5 SWAC Championship Game in Houston. GSU, the SWAC Western Division champion, is off this weekend, and ends its regular season Nov. 28 against Southern in the Bayou Classic before moving on to the SWAC title game — presumably against defending conference champion Alcorn State.
Alcorn (6-3, 5-2) is leading the SWAC Eastern Division by two games on Alabama State and rival Jackson State, but is not eligible for an at-large bid because the Braves still have two games left on the schedule. ASU takes on Alabama A&M this weekend at home before traveling to take J-State Nov. 28 in the regular-season finale.
Grambling’s run to the SWAC title game gives Prairie View an opportunity to get an at-large spot. The Panthers (7-2, 7-1) end their regular season at home against Jackson State Saturday.