Columnists, Sports

Indirect Kick: And the Winner Gets … Nothing

This weekend will mark the end of the regular season for Division I-AA FCS college football. Some of the local schools in the mix for postseason contention are … well, no one. And it’s a shame.


The real funny thing is, Harvard University, a team that saw its two-year unbeaten streak snapped on Nov. 14 against the University of Pennsylvania, is ranked 19th in the country for FCS. Yet, the Crimson’s dreams of going dancing will never be realized.

The reasoning behind it: a half-century old self-imposed ban citing tradition and academics as more important than postseason play. It’s hard to argue that academics is less important than football, which it is not. However, Ivy League schools can compete in other sports’ postseasons. So why not football?

Harvard, along with other Ivy League Schools, does not offer regular athletic scholarships. Regardless of the lack of recruiting tools, Ivy League teams somehow manage to put together reputable and competitive football programs.

The Ivy League is one of two divisions in the FCS that rejects a bid to postseason every year, with the other being the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which has a postseason tournament of its own.

But not the Ivy League. Nope. Its elite teams take their brilliant records to the Thanksgiving table with them, and that’s the only prize.

Something needs to be done about this, but what? Well, I see two options here. The SWAC option, or the one where you take tradition, crumple it up and throw it out the window.

The SWAC option: having an Ivy League tournament. Rather than just ending the year after the regular season, the Ivy League, comprised of eight schools, could have a tournament. And hey, in a day and age where participation trophies are multiplying, you could even let all eight teams play. It would make things interesting.

The play could start the first weekend in December and wrap-up before Christmas with the championship played at a neutral site. It would not only be exciting, but a different experience for the teams and the fans where any one could come out on top.

It would also give the deserving teams at least a taste of post-season glory. And it could even pave the way to a future bid to the FCS Tournament.

But as for taking tradition and throwing it all away … it’s easier said than done. Unfortunate, but true.

So what would this entail? Well, for starters, it would mean playoffs for Ivy League champions and even a couple at large bids. Honestly, the Ivy League is pretty good at football, to put it as simply as possible.

The winner of the conference would get an automatic bid to the FCS Tournament, plain and simple. Other teams could even get an at large bid. This would allow the Ivy League to show off its best talent on the national stage, gaining notoriety.

To be fair to the league itself, it should honestly allow the champion to move onto the playoffs, and reject at large bids. This could be a way to implement a compromise. The league champion would advance and get the prize it deserves.

Not only would this give elite Ivy League teams a chance at the postseason, but it would make the league that much more competitive.

Harvard doesn’t exactly have the strongest schedule in the world, but a dip into the playoffs would show just how good the Crimson truly is. They know it, Cambridge knows it, and frankly, the FCS knows it too. But that cannot fix stubbornness.

Will we ever see an Ivy League school in the FCS Playoffs? At this point, it looks unlikely, but eventually they will soften up on their policy. Tradition is not always the best thing, just ask Jurgen Klinsmann (sorry Klinsy, I had to). I digress.

Anyways, this policy should never have even been put in place to begin with. And it should also be lifted soon or else Ivy League football will begin to drift into the past and programs will fold.

As for the seven-time Division I-A National Champion Harvard, they go for the Ivy League championship this weekend against Yale University.

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Daniel Shulman is a sophomore at Boston University majoring in Journalism through the College of Communication. A native of Stoughton, Dan is a sports fanatic who loves everything Boston sports related. He is currently a Sports Hawk at the Boston Globe in the High School sports department. He is also a statistician for both Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Men’s Ice Hockey. Aside from writing, Dan has an interest in music, movies and cooking.

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