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Big South tiebreaker issue remains unresolved
When it was clear there was a good chance that Liberty, Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina would finish in a three-way tie atop the Big South football standings last November, confusion reigned. The team that allowed the fewest points in conference games would earn the conference’s automatic berth to the FCS playoffs, leading media members, coaches and sports information directors to pull out the calculator to figure out the exact scenario that would have to occur for a particular team to finish on top.
That system will not be in place this season, but what tiebreaker will take its place is still up in the air. The conference’s seven coaches met for more than an hour Thursday to discuss the matter, but because some of the Big South’s athletics directors couldn’t make it to Charlotte for the league’s annual media day, the discussion was tabled until today. Conference commissioner Kyle Kallander said he hopes to have a proposal to send to university presidents by next week, and that a new tiebreaker will be in place for the 2011 season.
“It’s not resolved,” Kallander said. “Coaches have a real interest in trying to break the tie within conference play if at all possible, which was what we were trying to do with the points issue. That was on the books since we started playing football in 2002, even though we didn’t have an automatic bid. … But there was way too much focus on that last year, so we wanted to get away with that and see if we could still break the tie within conference play.
“So we’re looking at road wins, home wins, and then if we get beyond that, is there a way we can take into account the whole body of work? So we’re looking at point systems that would take into account who you played – something like strength of schedule – and who you beat. We don’t want non-conference play to come into the equation too early. But that might be a component that would make some sense for us. In the end, we’re looking for who is our best representative, who is our strongest team. And if we’re talking about the FCS committee, what are they looking at? Strength of schedule. Who you played. Who you beat. So that’s kind of in line with that as well.”
Liberty finished 8-3 overall last season, and Coastal Carolina and Stony Brook were 6-5, but the Chanticleers won the defensive-points-allowed tiebreaker and represented the league in the playoffs. Coastal lost at home to Western Illinois in the first round.
Liberty quarterback Mike Brown was the Big South’s offensive player of the year last year, and Coastal Carolina linebacker Andrae Jacobs earned the defensive player of the year nod. Both players return, so it’s no surprise that they earned preseason player of the year recognition.
Brown received 15 of 18 first-place votes for the award. Gardner-Webb receiver James Perry III got two votes, and Stony Brook running back Brock Jackolski got the other. Jacobs received nine of the first-place votes for the defensive award. Liberty’s Asa Chapman and VMI linebacker A.J. Gross each received four first-place votes. Charleston Southern cornerback Charles James got the other.
Liberty placed a conference-high seven players on the preseason all-conference team: Brown, receiver Chris Summers, offensive lineman Malcolm Boyd, Chapman, kicker Matt Bevins, punter Mike Larsson and punt returner B.J. Hayes.
Liberty was the pick to win the conference championship for the fifth straight season, garnering 15 first-place votes and 123 points. Stony Brook was second with 104 points and two first-place votes. Coastal Carolina got the other first-place vote. Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb tied for fourth in the poll, followed by VMI and Presbyterian College.
Three former FBS players transferred to Liberty in the offseason, including former Georgia Tech cornerback Ryan Ayers. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson announced Monday at the ACC Kickoff at Pinehurst that Ayers was transferring to LU. He redshirted last season in Atlanta and will have four years of eligibility remaining. Because Ayers has yet to start classes at Liberty, Flames coach Danny Rocco could not comment on him Thursday at Big South media day.
Ayers was a four-star recruit who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a high-school senior.
Liberty also landed former South Florida fullback Chase Griffiths and former Virginia tight end Andrew Cordasco. Griffiths will play linebacker for the Flames and will battle for playing time at the Mike with Nick Sigmon and Eric Fath.
“Chase is a guy that we were very involved with two years ago in the recruiting process,” Rocco said. “He definitely had an interest in Liberty, but he ended up being pursued pretty aggressively by South Florida. … They moved him from linebacker to fullback, and that doesn’t necessarily fit with where he wants to play.”
Cordasco committed early to Richmond and he followed coach Mike London when London took over for Al Groh at Virginia.
“He’ll be a solid contributor, and if not this year, he’s got four years left,” Rocco said. “He’s a big body who will help us.”
By: Chris Lang, The News & Advance