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FCS football committee to release first rankings this Thursday

North Dakota State defenders block Georgia Southern's fourth quarter field goal attempt Friday, Dec. 15, 2012, during the FCS playoff semifinals at the Fargodome. David Samson / Forum News Service

FARGO—The Division I Football Championship Committee will release its first postseason rankings on Thursday, Nov. 2, which in the big picture is expected to give teams like North Dakota State an idea of where they stand with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

In a change, the committee will only release two polls before the Sunday, Nov. 19, selection Sunday show. That's down from four from last year. Richard Johnson, the chair of the committee, said on the Kolpack & Izzo radio show on WDAY-AM over the weekend that having four rankings simply wasn't needed.

"I think as we went through it, we thought two would be enough," Johnson said. "We'll get there eventually but from a public perspective, the committee thought this would give us a better opportunity to give out as much accurate information as possible in terms of where we are in the seeding process."

The committee will release its top 10 teams at halftime of the Idaho at Troy football game on ESPNU. That game has a 8:15 p.m. (CST) kickoff. The second release will be Thursday, Nov. 9, at halftime of the Georgia Southern at Appalachian State game.

Last year's first release had its moments of anxiety for a couple of fan bases, most notably NDSU. It had the Bison No. 4, despite wins over several ranked teams and Iowa. Three polls later, NDSU had the No. 1 spot.

This year, the two principle polls in the FCS—the top 25 coaches and STATS.com media—have had James Madison No. 1 and NDSU No. 2 all season. Those two rankings are independent of the Football Championship Committee rankings, whose opinion counts the most when the field of 24 teams is announced on Nov. 19.

Johnson, the athletic director at Wofford University (S.C.), said in his four years on the committee he has been "overwhelmed" by the integrity of the process and the professionalism of the NCAA staff.

"I know on the outside people sometimes question the decisions and that's human nature," he said.

Two years ago, the question of angst was five Missouri Valley Football Conference teams being put on the same side of the playoff bracket. But Johnson said the NCAA has adjusted the playoff manual that gives the committee the ability to not let that happen again.

"The truth is, that committee has been as color blind in terms of conferences as any committee I've been on," Johnson said.

He pointed to 6-5 Illinois State making the field last year.

"They made the field because the committee felt they were one of the top 24 teams in the country and deserved to be in," Johnson said.

He said trying to compare FCS teams from different regions is a challenge. He said some committee members use the Simply Ratings System while others factor head-to-head competition more.

"When you get down to 6-5 or 7-4, at the end of the day, when Team A lines up to play Team B, who's going to win that game?" Johnson said.

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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