published Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

UTC Mocs bidding to host FCS playoff games

  • photo
    UTC tight end Faysal Shafaat (88) dives over Wofford's James Zotto (11) during the Mocs' 20-10 Southern Conference win last Saturday at Finley Stadium. The victory gave UTC a share of the league title and reason to bid for host privileges in the NCAA FCS playoffs.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga makes the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the Mocs will try to host as many games as possible at Finley Stadium, athletic director David Blackburn said Monday.

The Mocs, winners of six straight games, clinched at least a share of the Southern Conference championship this past Saturday with their 20-10 win over Wofford. They will try to win the title outright, and earn the league's automatic bid to the playoffs, in their SoCon finale this week at Samford.

"My hope is, if we win this thing Saturday, we can secure a first-round game," Blackburn said, adding that UTC's proposal includes a desire to host every game the Mocs play.

In the latest FCS polls, released Monday, the Mocs are No. 17 in the Sports Network list and No. 18 in the coaches' voting.

As an eight-win team from a league that typically gets multiple teams in the playoffs, UTC (8-2, 6-1) appears to be in good shape for a spot in the 24-team field. However, a rough nonconference run -- the SoCon is 6-11 against FCS teams from other leagues -- has hurt the league's overall rating.

RealTimeRPI.com ranks the SoCon as the ninth-best FCS league.

The playoff format includes eight seeded teams, all of whom receive first-round byes, and 16 teams that will play in the first round.

Regardless of whether UTC gets in via the SoCon's automatic bid or as an at-large selection, the school is doing everything it can to host a game. The Mocs' only previous playoff appearance was in 1984, when it lost in the first round at Arkansas State.

Blackburn said bids, which include a financial guarantee, have to be in to the NCAA by next Monday. Blackburn didn't want to say what the guarantee was because it is a competitive bidding process, but he confirmed that it was in excess of $20,000.

"We're ready to do it now," Blackburn said of sending in UTC's proposal. "You have to bid in advance. It's not us being presumptuous; it's just part of the process."

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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