Pollsters for the STATS Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll did the right thing this week by giving defending national champion North Dakota State the top spot with all of their first-place votes.
The Bison deserved it, going to Iowa last weekend and stunning the formerly 13th-ranked Hawkeyes to stay undefeated.
They also leapfrogged No. 20 Stony Brook over No. 21 North Carolina A&T after the Seawolves blew out previously second-ranked Richmond. Speaking of NCAT, the Aggies dropped three spots after losing 58-21 to FBS member Tulsa.
Meanwhile, Grambling State sits at No. 31, despite having the same 1-1 record as No. 23 Colgate along with one less loss than No. 24 McNeese State (1-2) and No. 25 Portland State (1-2).
Hold up, STATS pollsters! Are you telling me that you will penalize one HBCU for losing to a FBS team that played in a bowl game last season (I know, it was just the Independence Bowl) while not putting another HBCU in the Top 25 after pretty much playing the same schedule as its 23rd-ranked team?
Before we go any further and folks leave comments saying the G-Men are actually 2-1, let’s get this one straight. Grambling’s season-opening 72-12 win over Virginia University of Lynchburg does not count toward NCAA or NAIA statistics, win-loss records and polls. However, that’s another argument for another day.
So what’s the logic behind the poll fluctuation? Despite opening the season at home against CIAA member St. Augustine’s, NCAT finished its nonconference slate by playing FBS teams in back-to-back road games. The Aggies picked up a 39-36 overtime win against Kent State before taking the loss at Tulsa.
Using the logic gained from the polls, a loss against an FBS team will be held against you when another teams wins against same-level competition? Is there no consideration for teams playing up a level and playing on the road? The pollsters certainly gave the Aggies a five-spot bump in its Sept. 12 poll after NCAT knocked off Kent State, and they certainly dropped the Aggies three spots after losing to Tulsa.
Meanwhile, Stony Brook wasn’t even in the Top 25 all season (at No. 41 in the Sept. 12 poll) before they defeated a Richmond squad that was ranked No. 2 in FCS last weekend. So, an unranked team defeating a highly-ranked FCS team is worth a 21-spot bump in the polls, but a team ranked each week this season beating a Mid-America Conference member is worth only a five-spot bump? Is there no consideration for strength of schedule?
Looking at Grambling’s case, Colgate and the G-Men each lost to a FBS Power 5 conference team the week before they put up double-digit wins against same-level competition. Grambling’s upset bid against Pacific 12 member Arizona fell short in a 31-21 loss while ACC member Syracuse downed the Raiders 33-7.
The Raiders and the Tigers followed those Power 5 losses with blowout wins on the road. The Tigers beat conference rival Jackson State 35-14 while Colgate knocked off Yale 55-13.
Somehow, the schedule similarities seemed lost on the pollsters. Colgate held on to its spot in the polls while Grambling continues to bubble just below the No. 25 spot.
Didn’t know style points were worth eight slots in the division’s major poll.
If Grambling was, let’s say, a random Southland Conference or Colonial Athletic Association squad, then the G-Men probably would have a spot in the Top 25 this week. However, Grambling is in the SWAC, and the G-Men’s style points weren’t as much as Colgate’s.
I don’t know who to blame: the six pollsters allocated to the SWAC, the 11 pollsters allocated to the MEAC or just the blinders the rest of the pollsters have on when it comes to teams from Division I’s two HBCU conferences.
However, this is still the same poll in which five voters gave winless Florida A&M a vote in the poll last week before the Rattlers lost to Division 2 Tuskegee. The Rattlers were outscored by Miami and Coastal Carolina by a combined 119-13 before they lost 20-17 to Tuskegee.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the pollsters jump Sacred Heart into the Top 25 in next week’s poll ahead of Grambling and North Carolina A&T if the Pioneers knock off Stony Brook this weekend. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Grambling defeats Alcorn State Saturday in a rematch from last year’s SWAC Championship Game, only to either remain in its position outside of the Top 25 or even lose votes in the poll to members of FCS conferences that don’t give a damn about SWAC and MEAC football … until it is time to count the legacies of those leagues as part of FCS’ collective legacy.