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Friday Water Cooler: Can Lehigh Host?

I suppose it's natural to think this way.

I know, I know. Georgetown is much improved. Lehigh cannot fall asleep against the Hoyas - they have come so far, and can't get stopped now. All that is true.

But if you haven't at least mulled the possibility of Lehigh hosting a game in the playoffs - should they win this weekend, of course - you either don't know how the playoffs work or you had better check your pulse.

Should Lehigh win this weekend, what other results might be friendly to a potential first-round matchup at Murrray Goodman? We'll look at them below the flip. (more)

The first thing to realize about the FCS playoffs - if this is your first time reading about them - is that the bracket has just been expanded to 20 teams. In years past, it was a sixteen-team bracket, starting the week after Thanksgiving and ending the weekend before Christmas.

Now, there are twenty teams. The top five teams are seeded, and whenever possible will get home games in the playoffs. The top four seeds will play the winners of Round One two weeks after the end of the season - against one of eight unseeded teams which will play the weekend after Thanksgiving.

(In my CSN Way column this week on College Sporting News, I project the entire playoff field - and I have Western Illinois travelling to Lehigh in the first round.)

In the past, the FCS Playoff subcommittee has tried to group the games - especially those involving non-seeded teams - regionally, in an effort to cut down costs.

It's safe to say that Lehigh - not currently in any national Top 25 - will not be getting a seed. But there are some things that can happen in the East that could help in the playoff subcommittee choosing to have Lehigh host a first-round game.

First, Lehigh would need to put a competitive bid to the NCAA for the game. Now if the bracket comes down to Appalachian State and Lehigh getting consideration to host a first-round playoff game, it would be no contest - Lehigh would be heading to Boone, North Carolina, since Appalachian State is likely to put in a very significant bid for the game. But a good-sized bid might be the difference in a trip and a home game, depending on the size of the school.

Second, Lehigh would be rooting for other CAA schools to either be at six D-I wins - putting them in danger of not being selected - or undisputed champions. The CAA - home of Delaware, James Madison, Richmond and Villanova, all FCS National Champions of the last ten years - is widely respected as being one of the strongest conferences in FCS. The more teams that have first-round byes - and the more teams that don't make it into the twenty-team field - the better for Lehigh.

Third, Lehigh will be hoping for schools that have small enrollments and/or small stadiums to make the field. One such school, Robert Morris, is already in the playoffs, and seem like an ideal candidate to be sent on the road somewhere - possibly Lehigh.

Finally, if at all possible, Lehigh wants those team in the non-seeded portion of the playoffs to be outside the Eastern region. Fewer candidates out East, the better Lehigh's odds.

So what would be a good situation for Lehigh?

* William & Mary beating both James Madison and Richmond, eliminating any small chance that the Dukes and Spiders make the playoffs and putting the Tribe in line for a seed.

* UMass losing twice: first to Delaware, then to Rhode Island. Don't laugh about the Rams' chances: Rhode Island just upset Villanova last weekend. This would put the Minutemen at six D-I wins, and probably out of the playoffs.

* Delaware beating UMass this week, and Villanova the final week of the season. This would put them at 10-1 and very likely in line for a seed alongside William & Mary.

* In an ideal world, New Hampshire would beat Villanova and then lose to winless Towson. This would put both teams at six D-I wins, but that's extremely unlikely to happen. If Villanova beats New Hampshire, they will have seven D-I wins, and it will probably be enough to make the playoffs no matter what happens vs. Delaware.

* Either Stony Brook or Coastal Carolina grabbing the Big South title away from Liberty. Liberty's Williams Stadium - and a rabid fan base - means they could be a place where Lehigh is sent. If it's not the Flames, Coastal Carolina would reduce the number of potential destinations for Lehigh by one, and Stony Brook (NY) would at best have a 7-4 record and have a stadium tinier than Murray Goodman for hosting. Lehigh might actually end up being the perfect destination for the Seawolves, too.

So there you have it - a scenario where Lehigh is sitting pretty for hosting a home game the weekend after Thanksgiving. If they win this weekend, of course.


Thanks for the analysis...
I am still scrambling for Lafayette tix...
van said…
So far it looks like Lehigh, Bobby Morris and N Iowa in first round games. Montana, Cal Poly and UMass seem destined for first round games unless there is some upsets here.

Looks to me like a toss up between ND St, W IL and SC St for the last two spots.

Montana, N Iowa, UMass and SC St get home games under this scenario?
Anonymous said…
Main Line Sportsman....

Just go to the game and ask around for tickets, especially in the student tailgate area - there are always kids with extra tickets.
LUHawker said…
With Lehigh winning unimpressive fashion today, we're going to taste the postseason for the first time in 6 years and it should taste sweet. That being said, we had some good and some bad with respect to our chances to host a first round game. The good:

Liberty lost and potentially allowed Stony Brook to take the Big South, making Goodman a very desirable venue

Umass lost, putting them on the bubble and possibly reducing a destination for the Brown & White.

The bad:
William & Mary losing to JMU, thus keeping alive the chances for both Richmond and JMU to make the field, decreasing our likelihood of hosting.
W. Illinois lost and putting them firmly on the bubble and possibly eliminating the rematch of 10 yrs ago when Lehigh was unceremoniously shipped to the middle of nowhere after have a stellar season, only to wallop the Leasthernecks.

The inconclusive: UNH defeating Villanova; will depend on what both do next week.

There are more scenarios to be played out but on blanche I think Lehigh is in roughly the same or slightly worse position to host.

Regardless, GO LEHIGH, crush the Pards!!!
mtnhawk4lyfe said…
Thats a pretty good synopsis but I have to say it feels good for me to be sitting here with the knowledge that we're going to the national playoffs. I also like the fact that next week doesn't matter much. It obviously does with regards to momentum and focus going into the playoffs, it's just far different than the usual ramifications going into the last weekend. Im proud of the players and the coaching staff. Kudos to Andy Dave Dave Emo Juicy Donnie and Ned Russell. Enjoy fellas, but believe that anything is possible and you're good enough to do something pretty special. F the naysayers play for yourselves, your families and the staff. They're really all you have when all is said and done. Go Hawks!
van said…
Lot of things got mixed up today!

JMU would be 6-5 if they beat Maine on the road next week, don't see them as a playoff team at 6-5.

Nova would be out with a loss to #1 Delaware next week.

U Mass probably favored against Rhody next week, but no gimme for them.

Richmond would have to beat W&M next week to get to 7-4, that will be a tall order.

Wofford got beat by App St today and that might drop them to a round 1 game.

Our best bet for a home game is Stony Brook beating Liberty.

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