By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
This weekend, 16 football teams continue their quest for the NCAA FCS championship.
Princeton University will not be one of them.
The field for the championship started with 24 teams. None of them were from the Ivy League.
Princeton, which shared the Ivy League title with Penn, would have been in the field by virtue of its regular season win over the Quakers. But the Tigers were not afforded the opportunity to play for a national championship because the Ivy League continues to deny its football champion the opportunity to play in the post season.
Football is the lone sport in the Ivy League where the champion, or any other deserving team, doesn’t get an opportunity to play for a title and that simply isn’t right.
The Princeton field hockey team just capped off its outstanding season by reaching the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. In 2013, PU won the national championship in field hockey. Princeton has had 203 team or individual national champions — none in football.
The Princeton football team, which finished 8-2, didn’t get a chance to showcase itself on a national level. That means no chance for John Lovett and his 31 touchdowns to see if he could continue his magical season against the best in the nation. It means no chance for Kurt Holuba and the Princeton defense to see how it stacks up against the top offenses in the country.
Princeton deserved to be in the field of 24 teams playing for a national title. Just as Penn deserved that chance last year and Harvard did in 2014 when it went a perfect 10-0.
The football players in the Ivy League deserve the same chance to play for a national title as the soccer players, basketball players and lacrosse players they go to school with every day.
Bob Surace, the Tigers’ head coach, and his staff and players work as hard as anyone. They play 10 games a season and compete for an Ivy League title. But unlike the other coaches and athletes in the league, the season ends for the football team when the final game is played on Nov. 19.
Princeton finished its season just outside the Top 25 in the FCS national rankings. Last year, both Harvard and Dartmouth were ranked in the Top 25 when their season ended.
Maybe the Ivy champion heads into the playoffs and loses in the first round. But perhaps they go in and win and show the rest of the country just how high a level of football they play in the Ivy League.
This year’s Princeton team was fun to watch. The Tigers play an exciting brand of offense with a defense to match. Were the Tigers a national title contender? Probably not. But they certainly deserved a chance to find out on the playing field.
The Ivy League presidents have often maintained they don’t want the football playoffs interfering with academics should the season extend into December. The problem with that argument is the soccer season goes into December, yet soccer teams in the Ivy League are able play for a national title.
In the spring, teams playing for NCAA championships in lacrosse and softball routinely play through the month of May, which would certainly conflict with exams the same way playing in December would conflict with playing through exams.
The opening round of the FCS playoffs was played last weekend, while the playoffs continue with the semifinals slated for Dec. 16-17. Only the two teams that play for the national championship have their season go into January, with the final slated for Jan. 7.
There is a double standard that exists when it comes to letting Ivy League football teams into the playoffs. It’s time to set aside archaic rules and let football join the rest of the sports in the 21st century.
PRINCETON: PU football deserved playoff shot
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor