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FCS playoff committee breaking tradition, releasing its top 10 this week

Eric Perkins and the North Dakota State football team played Richmond in last year's FCS semifinals. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO—In a move similar to the FBS College Football Playoffs, the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff committee is going down the road of releasing a preliminary list of its rankings.

The first one will be announced Thursday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. on the ESPNU "CFB Daily" show.

The news is being met with positivity within the Missouri Valley Football Conference, from associate commissioner Mike Kern to head coaches. The playoff committee met by teleconference on Tuesday to rank the top 10 teams for this week.

"Fans of FCS football should be on the edge of their seat waiting for that ranking," said South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier.

The rankings will be released in each of the next two Thursdays on the "CFB" show. A time before the Nov. 19 final regular season Saturday has yet to be determined.

"I think it helps a league like ours, where in the past couple of years a team would sneak in that people weren't paying attention to," Kern said. "It takes away the shock factor for teams that are deserving and that's helpful."

For instance, Western Illinois got in the playoff field last year despite a 6-5 record. Hardly anybody who predicted the field had the Leathernecks in, but a strength of schedule factor was in their favor. The release of rankings during the season is expected to give a more clear picture of what criteria the committee values.

"I think it's a great idea, it tells you where you're at," Stiegelmeier said. "It tells programs what they need to do. I love the transparency and the fact it's a not a wait-and-see thing. It adds interest nationally to the playoffs."

Brian Hutchinson, the chair of the FCS playoff committee, said earlier this season on WDAY-AM's Saturday morning sports show he believes releasing a top 10 now will give people a better understanding of the process.

"From my perspective, I thought it might be a better idea to be a little bit more transparent," said Hutchinson, the athletic director at Morehead State (Ky.). "People talk about the coaches poll and the (media) poll and those are all tools for us but the poll that matters is the one the committee comes up with, so we're going to let everyone know who our top 10 are going into selection week."

Hutchinson said the plan is to spend more time digging into the resumes of teams being considered for the 24-team playoff field.

"We heard loud and clear from folks who wanted to scrutinize what we did last year," he said. We're going to spend a little more time in Indianapolis this year as we select the field in November just culling through those teams that maybe are the last few teams be considered for at-large berths."

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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