TSU Tigers roar into FCS Playoffs

On the strength of a great 9-3 season, the 2013 Tennessee State University Tigers football team has been selected to participate in the 24-member field competing in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) tournament. The Tigers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the last season the team won nine or more games. The Tigers currently rank fifth in the nation in team defense, allowing just 278.9 yards per game.

TSU travels to Indianapolis for a first round matchup with the Butler University Bulldogs, who also have a 9-3 record. Butler shared the Pioneer Football League title with Marist and earned the league’s first automatic bid through the league’s tiebreaker system. The PFL championship was Butler’s second straight and third in five years. The Butler Bowl Stadium has limited seating options, including bleacher seating for fewer than 450 on the visitors’ side and total capacity under 6,000.

Two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State (11-0), the only undefeated team in the FCS, earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, while OVC champion Eastern Illinois (11-1) was seeded second, and Eastern Washington (10-2) was seeded third, Southeastern Louisiana (10-2) fourth, Maine (10-2) fifth, McNeese State (10-2) sixth, Towson (10-2) seventh, and Montana (10-2) eighth. Each of these top eight seeds received a first round bye, and will host second round games on Saturday, December 7. All first round games are Saturday, November 30.

The winner of Saturday’s game between TSU and Butler will face Eastern Illinois in the second round game. Jacksonville State (9-3) also made the field, marking the first time that the OVC had three teams selected for postseason play. JSU hosts Samford (8-4) at 7 pm, CST, with the winner playing at McNeese in the second round.

TSU defeated Jacksonville State 31-15 on October 12. TSU’s three losses on the season were to Bethune- Cookman (10-2) on Sept. 1; Eastern Illinois on October 26 in LP Field; and at Eastern Kentucky on November 2. Bethune-Cookman of the MEAC plays at Coastal Carolina (10-2) and South CarolinaState (9-3), also of the MEAC, hosts Furman (7-5) on Saturday.

In their last playoff game, TSU hosted North Carolina A&T in a game touted as the ‘Black College Super Bowl’ in the then-new coliseum now known as LP Field in the first round of the 1999 NCAA FCS tournament. At the time, TSU was the OVC champion, nationally ranked #1 and undefeated in an 11-game regular season, but succumbed to A&T 24-14 on Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend.

The TSU Aristocrat of Bands will not be making the trip to Indianapolis. The game is scheduled for a noon, CST, kickoff on Saturday. It will be carried on ESPN 3, and likely on FM 102.1 The Light.

Reed named finalist for Eddie Robinson Award

Rod Reed

Rod Reed

Tennessee State University head football coach, Rod Reed, was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year, joining 20 other coaches competing for the award which is presented by the Sports Network to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Coach of the Year.

This season, TSU is 9-3 (6-2 OVC) and is enjoying its finest year since its league championship team in 1999, also the last year TSU participated in the FCS playoffs. Reed has raised his team’s win total from three during his first campaign in 2010, to five in 2011, and eight in 2012.

Tennessee State’s 25 victories over the past four years are the most by the Tigers since 1998-2001 and Reed’s .454 winning percentage is the best start for a TSU head coach since L.C. Cole.

Voting will reflect only regular-season results and will be conducted by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. The winner will be announced at The Sports Network FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.

The winners of the three FCS player awards (e.g., the Walter Payton [for outstanding player]; the Buck Buchanan [for outstanding defensive player]; and the Jerry Rice [for freshman of the year]) also will be announced at the banquet.