Willie Simmons speaks on FAMU’s FCS playoff snub

A FAMU Rattlers football player wears a white helmet on the sidelines of Bragg Memorial Stadium
A FAMU Rattlers football player wears a white helmet on the sidelines of Bragg Memorial Stadium(Ryan Kelly | WCTV)
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 1:40 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - “We’re looking at the number of Division I wins that [Florida A&M] had and they certainly had an opportunity against Jackson State as a data point for the committee to look at and we did.”

Words from FCS Playoff Committee Chairman Jermaine Traux about FAMU’s omission from the 2022 FCS playoff on Sunday’s selection show on ESPNU. Words that rang hollow through Rattler Nation as recently blown out, 7-4 Montana and loser of four of its last six Delaware made their selves into the field of 24. Words that Rattler Head Coach Willie Simmons say are just that...

Just words.

“I think it’s hyperbole,” Said Simmons to WCTV of the committee’s justification to leave out FAMU. “I think it’s a way to justify what they wanted to do from the get go and that’s deny a team from the SWAC an opportunity to go to the FCS Playoffs.”

The Rattlers overcame an 0-2 start full of strife on and off the field to win nine straight and secure the second best record in the SWAC behind top ten, undefeated Jackson State.

Yet they’ll have no postseason appearance to show for it.

“After two losses we turned around and regrouped and played as good of ball as anybody in the country in my opinion,” Remarked Simmons of his squad’s post-Labor Day turnaround. “So if that doesn’t mean anything then we need to consider what our place really is in the grand scheme of the FCS Playoff system.”

A system Simmons says in a level of football supposedly without “power conferences” like the FCS needs to reckon with itself or at least be honest.

“I do think there either needs to be a distinction made between what’s considered to be a power conference in FCS or just flat out say it,” Simmons said of the selection process. “It’s win the conference or bust for teams in the MEAC or SWAC and those other conferences, you finish middle of the pack, win six or seven games and you’re in the playoff to have a chance to extend your season and I just don’t see how that system is justified in anyone’s mind.”

The system may change in the future, it may not. None of that however does anything to change the present where a senior class of stars like Xavier Smith and Isaiah Land have abruptly seen their college careers come to a close.

“To have that opportunity stripped away from them really hurt me,” Said Simmons of his outgoing class. “That was probably the biggest takeaway. The disappointment in the kids for knowing they’ve done what they needed to do.”