Florida A&M is still very much in the hunt for SWAC East championship, but the Rattlers — at least internally — believe they have a chance to secure a postseason berth if it does not advance to the Celebration Bowl.
“My view is simple,” said head coach Willie Simmons on Monday, “if we’re deserving, we should go. “You know, I think our resume speaks for itself.”
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Florida A&M is currently in second place in the SWAC East, just one full game behind leader Jackson State in the standings. The Rattlers’ only conference loss was to the JSU, 7-6, in the Orange Blossom Classic.
Simmons’s comments come a week after Florida A&M athletic director Kortne Gosha said the program would lobby for a spot in the FCS playoffs if it did not win the SWAC.
The Rattlers, however, will need a lot of help to win the division or make the playoffs.
Despite being favored by at least 55% to win each of its final four regular-season games, Florida A&M is not ranked in any major FCS poll and features a schedule that is No. 253, according to the Massey Ratings.
The strength of the SWAC — with Jackson State, Alcorn State and Prairie View along with Florida A&M — could help in the conference getting an at-large bid. But the Rattlers will need to win out and win impressively in the process.
The last FCS HBCU team to earn a postseason bid without winning a conference championship was North Carolina A&T in 2016.
Florida A&M is vying to make a postseason appearance for the first time since 2001.
“If a team is deserving, it should go,” said Simmons. “If that’s FAMU or Jackson State, Prairie View or Alcorn — one of the teams still playing for a championship or postseason play — if our resume is deserving and we’re one of the top teams in America based on the voting and the analytics, I think we deserve to go play in the FCS playoffs.”