November 11, 2007
JEFFERSON CITY -- The 11th-ranked Carson-Newman Eagles will be home for the 24-team Division II Playoffs.
Carson-Newman (10-1), the co-South Atlantic Conference Champions in 2007, was not selected to participate in the D-II playoffs the NCAA announced Sunday morning.
"We're dissappointed," Carson-Newman Head Coach and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) President Ken Sparks said. "We regret the system didn't allow us to be, our players and coaches worked very hard to be deserving."
Not receiving a bid denies the impressive body of work the Eagles compiled in 2007.
"I am as saddened for our student-athletes and football program as I have ever been. To deny a playoff opportunity from young men who are 10-1 and ranked #1 in the nation in several statistical categories is a disappointing state of affairs. This is a hard pill to swallow, but we will move forward and dig deep to show class and character."
Carson-Newman will likely finish the season as the top-ranked scoring offense, rushing offense, and pass efficiency in the nation. The Eagles scored 49 points in every conference game they played, including a 63-24 win over Tusculum to close the season.
"We'll have to walk the walk to handle this like men," Sparks said. "Something great will come from this, we will trust the Lord. He has something great in store for us."
Next year, while still a long way away, could be great for the Eagles. Carson-Newman could return as many as 18 starters in 2008 from this season's dominant group.
Shaw and Albany State (Ga.) were handed bids on the strength of "Earned Access," a rule that provides a conference, if not represented in the top six of the regional rankings, a bid if it is represented in the top ten of the regional rankings.
The Eagles were fifth in the regular season's final regional rankings, but were passeed over for 6th-ranked Albany State (9-2) and then 12th-ranked Shaw (8-3). Shaw, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) champion with a 31-24 double-overtime victory yesterday over Virginia Union, was not ranked during the regular season until the final rankings, holding the bottom spot.
The Bears have lost three games this season, including a 31-30 defeat to NAIA Edward Waters. Carson-Newman beat Shaw in 2005 and 2006. The Eagles won the '05 meeting 45-24, and won the '06 meeting 41-7. Carson-Newman led the 2006 meeting 34-0 at halftime.
Carson-Newman's only loss in 2007 was a 55-49 home defeat to Catawba. The Eagles trailed for only 26 seconds in the game.
(Story Courtesy of Carson-Newman Sports Information)