FCS Roundtable: Unforgettable Storylines of the 2011 Season


The upcoming weekend is the last of the Championship Subdivision’s regular season. Where has the time gone? This time of year feels like that moment on Christmas morning when you

poke the drunken uncle with a ruler until he wakes

clean up all the wrapping paper and watch the

Aloha Bowl



Anyway, it’s a bittersweet time of year. The memories of another great football season remain with us, and the FCS Roundtable is here this week to reminisce on some of the best moments from the campaign.

Joe Suhoski, VBR Productions

On a cold, wet weekend in late October, Old Dominion hosted James Madison in the revival of The Oyster Bowl. The Monarchs held a three point lead late in the fourth quarter and James Madison took over in their own territory. During the timeout between possessions, the fans started to chant “O-D-U!” without being prompted by the PA system. The chant gained momentum, and grew louder, and louder, and louder. It turns out that the chant was heard at DePaul Hospital , which is a couple miles from the stadium on campus.

Linebacker Craig Wilkins blocked JMU’s game-tying field goal attempt and Foreman Field went absolutely nuts! It is difficult to put that into words succinctly for the roundtable, but this is the experience I’ll never forget from this season. The Dukes were the most talented team ODU had faced to date, and the win seemed to finally bring legitimacy to the team from fans of other teams. Coach Bobby Wilder wrote a thank-you note to the fans the next day that was shared on ODUSports.com. He acknowledged that he and the players experienced an out-of-body experience when the chant was going. There’s an undeniable dynamic between the coaches, players, administration and fans.

Specific teams (other than my alma mater) worth mentioning:

1. Towson had won three games total the previous two years. With a win over Rhode Island Saturday, the team voted last in preseason CAA polls will have finished 9-2 and won its first CAA title.

2. Georgetown University is another team that had lost more than its share of games the last several seasons. They entered last weekend 8-2 with a chance to win their conference. The loss to Lehigh Saturday probably knocked them out of the playoffs, but it was good to see them turn things around.

3. Norfolk State won its first-ever MEAC championship in football. Speculation abounds that the Spartans may be paired with Old Dominion in the playoffs, which would be quite the spectacle for the city of Norfolk .

4. Even though I try to always be positive, I have to point out my surprise in Eastern Washington. While the Eagles did lose an NFL-caliber running back (Taiwan Jones) after last season, falling from the national title one year to potentially finishing with a losing record the next is a disappointment. That four-game losing streak to start the season put them too far behind the eight ball.

It’s winner-take-all in the Big South this weekend. I’ll give Liberty the edge over Stony Brook for the title; Mike Brown and the Flames’ offense will overcome Stony Brook’s homefield advantage. The loser does not have the resume to secure an at-large bid.

I’m honestly not sure what to make of the Ohio Valley Conference, but it’s definitely the conference I’ll watch with the most interest this weekend. Four teams sit with six wins and none of them play each other this weekend. Three of those teams have five conference wins – Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State . The fourth ( Murray State ) has four but should win at SE Missouri State to get to five.

Ben Moore, PantherTalk.com &

I look at two stories in particular in the CAA: The emergence of Towson who won 1 game in 2010 to 8-2 this season and Old Dominion (who does everything right) and their run to the FCS Playoffs in only their third season of existence. Both coaching staffs deserve a ton of credit for bringing these teams along and turned the CAA on its ear as TU and ODU were picked 8th and 9th respectively to begin the year will finish #1 and #2.

Locking up Playoff bids:
Jacksonville State

Gone Fishing:
SC State
Morgan State

Russell Varner, SouthernPigskin.com

How are we already at Week 12? What do you mean this is the last week of the regular season? No, you are lying. I’m not ready for it to be over yet.

It really is unbelievable this season is already over. Seems like it just got underway not that long ago. When someone goes to look back at the 2011 season, I believe, at least in the SoCon, the biggest story will be the end of Appalachian State’s run of consecutive conference titles (six) and Georgia Southern’s quick rise back to glory leading to yet another conference title for the Eagles. To think, two years ago, the glory days in Statesboro seemed like a thing of a past. It’s amazing what happens when the triple option returns.

Not to be overlooked is the Mountaineers’ amazing run. The six straight titles ties them for the record with, who else, Georgia Southern. Know Jerry Moore and ASU can look to start a new run of their own.

For the SoCon, most of the playoff spots are already locked in – Georgia Southern is in with the autobid and if Wofford and Appalachian State don’t get in, the selection committee has no idea what they are doing.

The only team left that can earn a spot would be Furman, who needs to beat Florida (yes, that Florida) in the Swamp to get to seven D-I wins this season. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Far from it. Just ask App State about upsetting a major FBS team.