FCS programs that have never appeared in the playoffs
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By CRAIG HALEY
(Stats Perform) - There's been a recent run of FCS programs earning their first national playoff bids, including two, Ohio Valley co-champ Austin Peay and Big Sky co-champ Sacramento State, that met in the second round last year.
In 2018, UC Davis from the Big Sky and Southland programs Lamar and UIW earned their first playoff berths. A year earlier, Big South programs Kennesaw State and Monmouth, Northeast member Central Connecticut State and Missouri Valley member South Dakota qualified for the playoffs for the first time.
Who's next in 2020?
The crop of candidates doesn't look as bountiful.
The best candidate may be Drake, which seeks the automatic bid in the Pioneer Football League. That may appear to be a surprising candidate because San Diego has won 37 straight PFL games and earned the league's last four bids, also posting a seven-game winning streak against Drake. But the Bulldogs return a veteran team and are expected to contend for the PFL title.
The eight Ivy League schools don't participate in the playoffs and four schools - Dixie State, Merrimack, North Alabama and Tarleton State - are ineligible while they go through the four-year reclassification process from Division II to I.
That means only 25 of the 37 FCS programs in 2020 are eligible for the playoffs.
The programs that have never appeared in the playoffs:
Big Sky Conference: Northern Colorado
Big South Conference: Campbell, Gardner-Webb, North Alabama (eligible in 2022)
FCS Independent: Dixie State (eligible in 2024), Merrimack (eligible in 2023), Presbyterian, Tarleton State (eligible in 2024)
Ivy League (schools do not participate in the playoffs): Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: North Carolina Central
Northeast Conference: Bryant, Long Island
Patriot League: Bucknell, Georgetown
Pioneer Football League: Davidson, Drake, Marist, Morehead State, Stetson, Valparaiso
Southern Conference: Mercer, VMI
Southland Conference: Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist
Southwestern Athletic Conference: Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Prairie View A&M, Southern, Texas Southern
Updated June 23, 2020