Is S. Alabama Provisional or Reclassifying?
By Paul Myerberg // Mar 29, 2012
What’s the story with South Alabama? Are the Jaguars in the F.B.S., the F.C.S. or floating in the ether between both levels? For me, the answer would mean the difference between 123 previews and 124 — a drop in the bucket in terms of overall word count, but a fairly important distinction nonetheless, if only for my own mental sanity. Here’s the presumption: Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Massachusetts are full-fledged members of the F.B.S. after spending last season on the F.C.S. level; South Alabama is a “provisional” member. That’s not the case. The N.C.A.A. provides the details.
Massachusetts, Texas State and South Alabama are in the same boat. As pointed out to me by the N.C.A.A., each is in the “reclassification process.” This means that each is ineligible for postseason play in 2012, both in terms of a bowl berth or a conference championship.
For all three, that label — “reclassifying” — will be removed in time for the 2013 season. Next year, South Alabama will be eligible for the Sun Belt title and a bowl berth; likewise for Massachusetts in the MAC and Texas State in the WAC.
What about Larry Coker and Texas-San Antonio? As of today, the Roadrunners have yet to “enter” the process of reclassifying, according to the N.C.A.A. The university has until June 1 to do so, meaning there’s a bit of a time crunch, but going through the process is a mere formality for the university.
So why the widespread use of the term “provisional” in regards to a move from the F.C.S. to the F.B.S.? I’ve mistakenly used it in the past, both in regards to South Alabama and Western Kentucky, when the latter was moving into the Sun Belt back in 2008. The Hilltoppers played a full Sun Belt schedule in 2008 but was ineligible for the postseason, much like the Jaguars in 2012.
According to the N.C.A.A., the term “provisional” is only used when a non-N.C.A.A. athletic program joins the association. For example, a team moving from the N.A.I.A. into the N.C.A.A. is given the provisional label. But a team moving within N.C.A.A. divisions — F.C.S. to F.B.S., or Division I-AA to Division I-A in basketball — is labeled as “reclassifying.”
South Alabama is in the same boat as its three fellow newcomers, once U.T.S.A. goes through the reclassification process. This is noteworthy for the Jaguars, who according to the N.C.A.A. are as much a part of the F.B.S. as the Roadrunners, Bobcats and Minutemen.
And on a personal note, yes, this does mean that South Alabama will deserve a preview on the Countdown. But it does nothing to alter the fact that the Roadrunners are coming in dead last. Last with an exclamation point. I ranked Western Kentucky last in both 2008 and 2009 before skyrocketing the Hilltoppers up to No. 118 in 2010.
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