New Hampshire selection doesn't add up

(STATS) - For any team that receives one of the last at-large bids in the FCS at-playoff field, there's usually a couple left on the outside feeling they have better resumes.

In New Hampshire's case Sunday, there were more than a couple, according to the NCAA's adopted Simple Ratings System.

The SRS is similar to the popular RPI rating of teams used in college basketball, a ranking system used to gauge team quality, including strength-of-measure and a win-loss differential.

Despite being designed as a tool to aid in the playoff selection (http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/football/fcs/simple-ratings-system), the Division I committee hasn't quite embraced the SRS since its inception in 2013, and the recurring theme has reflected poorly with New Hampshire.

Two years ago, UNH had the lowest SRS number among at-large selections at 29, and five teams with higher rankings were left out of the field. Last year, the Wildcats earned the No. 1 seed despite having the sixth-best SRS ranking.

Fortunately for veteran coach Sean McDonnell and the Wildcats, they validated themselves by advancing to the FCS national semifinals in both seasons.

But it got harder Sunday to justify the SRS or UNH's inclusion in the 24-team field for the 12th straight year - the national high. The Wildcats (7-4), who won their final four regular-season games, had an SRS ranking of 40.

There were numerous eligible playoff hopefuls ahead of UNH in the SRS which did not receive at-large bids: Western Carolina (7-4), at 25; UT Martin (7-4), 27; Towson (7-4), 29; Youngstown State (6-5), 30; Villanova (6-5), 31; Northern Arizona (7-4), 33; North Dakota (7-4), 36; Bethune-Cookman (9-2), 37; and Prairie View A&M (8-2), 39.

Towson and North Dakota were named on the FCS selection show as the final teams left out of the field. Both, like New Hampshire, beat seven Division I opponents.

Western Carolina, UT Martin, Youngstown State, Villanova and Northern Arizona each had one fewer Division I win than New Hampshire, but the committee selected 6-5 Western Illinois, which had an SRS number of 20, for an at-large bid.

Bethune-Cookman and Prairie View A&M - eligible for at-large selections despite their conferences sending champions to the inaugural Celebration Bowl instead of the playoffs - both beat eight Division I teams.

With the numbers not adding up for New Hampshire again, the Wildcats hope to change opinions with another strong showing in the playoffs.

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