‘Cats hope committee comes calling



David Cassilo

With an 8-2 record and just one game remaining on the schedule, the Villanova Wildcats have put themselves in a good position to earn a spot in the NCAA Division I Football Championship. The Wildcats have not been part of the postseason tournament since 2002 when they reached the semifinals. With a long layoff between appearances, the team is anxious to see if it will be part of the field this season.

The NCAA Division I Football Championship consists of a field of 16 teams. Eight of these teams are conference champions that automatically qualify. So far James Madison, South Carolina State, Appalachian State and Weber State have already locked up four of those eight spots by clinching a conference title.

The remaining eight spots are “at-large” selections. A committee consisting of athletic directors from several FCS schools determines these teams. With James Madison already winning the CAA, Villanova would be one of these teams hoping for an “at-large” selection.

Aside from choosing who is in the field of 16, this committee is also responsible for determining the first -round matchups, as well as which of four brackets each team is placed into. Of the 16 teams, only the top four are seeded. They are placed in separate brackets, which ensures that they will not face each other before the semifinals. The other 12 teams are all unseeded.

The committee determines first -round matchups based on several criteria, the most important of which is the geographic location of all 16 teams in the field. If possible, the committee looks to pair teams in first-round matchups who are close to each other in location. However, conference teams are not allowed to play against one another in the first round, and therefore, this can often disrupt the goal of creating matchups by location.

The first-round matchups are also heavily influenced by which eight teams will have home games. Home field is another element of the NCAA Division I Football Championship that the committee decides. All games in the postseason are held on the home team’s campus, with the exception of the championship game, which takes place at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in Finley Stadium. As the regular season begins to wind down, the teams that could potentially be a part of postseason play have the opportunity to apply for a home playoff game. The committee will then examine who has applied and make its decision.

The committee’s choice is based on several different areas of criteria. Part of it is based on the facility that each team uses for its football games. The committee investigates the quality of the facility, the revenue potential, history of attendance and maximum capacity. The student-athlete welfare is also taken into account when making the decision. This includes aspects such as travel and missed class time.

Of course, the team’s performance also plays a major role in determining which teams will play home games. The four seeded teams will be awarded home games, if they bid for them. The unseeded teams are subject to examination based on the many areas of criteria, as well as their performances during the season.

In general, most teams that have a chance to make the postseason apply for home playoff games. Villanova is no exception, as it has already submitted the paperwork to the committee. The Wildcats have hosted playoff games in both of their last two playoff appearances, which took place in 1997 and 2002.

Villanova’s chances of once again hosting a playoff game look promising, as it currently is ranked No. 6 in Sports Network’s FCS College Football Poll. However, with several other CAA teams, including Richmond, New Hampshire, William & Mary and Maine, vying for a spot in postseason play and many of the FCS powers on the East Coast, it is hard to say who Villanova will play in the first round and where the game will be held, assuming the Wildcats are selected.

At 8-2, with their only two losses coming to FBS-opponent West Virginia and James Madison, the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS, the Wildcats should feel pretty confident about extending their season at least one more week. Nevertheless, a win this Saturday against Delaware is crucial for the Wildcats. If they were to lose, there would be a chance Villanova would be left on the outside looking in.

The selections by the committee will be revealed this Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. If Villanova is selected, their first-round game would take place on either Nov. 28 or Nov. 29.

A game at Villanova Stadium will give the Villanova fans the opportunity to fill the seats see the Wildcats make a run at their first-ever title in the NCAA Division I Football Championship.

“If we host, we strongly encourage the Villanova community to come out and support our football team,” said Villanova Athletic Director Vince Nicastro. “They have played outstanding football all year, and the playoff games are some of the best football games that you will see at any level.”

With hopes of being selected for its first playoff game in six years, the Villanova football team and its faithful will be tuned into ESPNU on Sunday night to learn the Wildcats postseason fate.