From Tony Moss – Senior Editor/NFL Editor (The Sports Network)
First of all, thanks to my friend Chris Lynn for hooking this up. Ive had a few email inquiries about the FCS preview I did for Lindys, which was recently published, and am anticipating a few more so I thought it might be efficient to address those questions here. Ill try to encapsulate the questions people had of me.
Readers: Why is there no No. 9 listed on your national rankings?
Me: Well, there was. It was Colgate who I have winning the Patriot League – but the No. 9 line must have gotten accidentally wiped when the magazine was laid out. Its a shame, but typos happen unfortunately. Overall its a pretty impressive book in my opinion.
Readers: Why did you even write this preview? Dont you cover the NFL?
Me: Yes, I do. My friend Otto Fad, who normally writes the Lindys FCS preview, had a conflict this year and contacted me looking for a potential replacement. We were between FCS Coordinators at The Sports Network, and so I volunteered my services. Though I havent covered FCS full-time since 2004, the thought at Lindys was apparently that I was a professional, with a body of work on the subject, and that I would take the assignment seriously and do a credible job. I definitely did the former, whether I achieved the latter is not up to me to decide, though I think Lindys liked what I turned in.
Readers: How did you select your Top 25/conference standings?
Me: I used the same method as when I made predictions while covering the FCS beat. I drew up all of the conference predictions first, then contacted every conference SID in FCS (except the SWAC, who didnt have one at that moment) to get their feedback before I finalized them. I always involved the conference SIDs in the process when I covered the beat because I felt they would give me an objective portrayal of where their teams stood. I made a few changes to my conference predicted order of finish based on their thoughts. I also enlisted their help in coming up with a group of top players.
From there, I devised the Top 25, which seems to have elicited some discussion questioning my sanity. That’s a bit surprising to me, since 13 of my Top 17 were 2009 playoff teams, three others in that group (9-2 Colgate, 7-4 Montana State, and 7-4 Texas State) were close, and the other was Prairie View, which won the SWAC and whose only loss was to a FBS team. The ’09 playoff teams I didn’t have in “the playoff zone” in my Top 25 were No. 22 New Hampshire (lost seven of eight all-conference picks in a league we all know is really competitive), No. 24 Holy Cross (lost the QB and 80 percent of their o-line) and unranked Weber State (who I simply felt might have lost some ground after losing eight first- or second-team All-Big Sky choices from a 7-5 team that had a bad first-round playoff loss).
The point for me with the Top 25 exercise has always been to vaguely predict what the poll will look like heading into the playoffs (before regional bracketing knocks some really good teams out early and skews the final rankings a bit), not to mirror The Sports Network preseason poll or any others. I think the way I did it is more useful than a traditional “power ranking,” since the race to the playoffs is such a meaningful goal for much of the sub-division. Am I saying that Colgate will be better than William & Mary? Not necessarily, but I am willing to wager based on experience that the champion of the Patriot League is going to be ranked higher, entering the playoffs, than the third-place team in the CAA. Maybe that will turn out to be incorrect, but its the nature of predictions.
The only predicted conf. champ with an automatic NCAA bid in the expanded bracket that I didn’t include in my preseason Top 25 was my NEC pick, Robert Morris, although RMU finished ’09 on a five-game win streak in the NEC and outscored opponents 110-36 in those games.
Readers: Why did you pick Villanova’s Matt Szczur as your national player of the year when he’s uncertain to return?
Me: I weighed it, discussed with Coach Talley and Villanova Assistant AD Dean Kenefick as well as my editor at Lindy’s, and determined that it was worth the risk to include a guy that played so well when it mattered last season. If Szczur decides to sign a MLB contract, which would seem to be about 50-50, I think reasonable people will understand why his name appears in the book. I detailed the situation in the feature I wrote as part of the preview. I really hope he comes back, he’s fun to watch.
Readers: Why did you pick Aaron Corp as your newcomer of the year when he is uncertain to start at Richmond?
Me: Please note that my deadline came before Richmond’s spring practice, so I was flying blind a little bit there. My judgment was that Corp didn’t transfer from USC to be a No. 2 at Richmond, but of course we’ll have to see how it shakes out. For the record, my second choice was Bo Levi Mitchell from Eastern Washington, and had he been confirmed as the starter before my deadline, there’s a good chance I would have picked him over Corp.
Readers: What do you make of the criticism of your Lindys work on various Internet forums?
Me: It takes me back to when I covered the beat The reality is that the four-page spread of 2010 FCS predictions amounts to no more than someones take, and forums like this one exist to debate the same topics that are in Lindys or any other magazine.
The goal is to be objective and reasonable given the data you have in front of you, and if people want to say Im off base, then thats fine. It comes with the territory. I would add that some of the most ardent criticism of me (not on the CS board) comes with an agenda that is pretty easy to size up if you look hard enough. Overall though, it’s clear that there are many more FCS fans who are educated about the sub-division from a national standpoint than there were six years ago, and that’s great to see.
If you have any more questions about my Lindys preview, our FCS or NFL coverage, or just want to say hey, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.
Senior Editor/NFL Editor
The Sports Network