K.C. Keeler feels for unbeaten TCU
FRISCO, Texas -- The University of Delaware entered the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs a national No. 3 seed. On Friday, the Blue Hens will play in the FCS national championship in Frisco against No. 5 seed Eastern Washington.
About an hour away from Pizza Hut Park sits TCU, the No. 3 team in the nation in the Football Bowl Subdivision going into the bowl season. The Horned Frogs finished 13-0 season, including a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, but they will continue to sit in Fort Worth next week while Auburn and Oregon vie for the national championship.
Should they be able to continue playing for a chance to prove they are the best team in the nation? Delaware coach K.C. Keeler believes so.
"I just can't figure out how people can't get this right," Keeler said of having a playoff system decide the champion. "We're doing it right in Division III, II and I-AA [FCS]. I just wish they would do it right in Division I. ... The public would love it. It's the right way to do it. It's tough to argue TCU's not the best in the country. I mean, how do you argue that? They are very impressive and they should have had a chance to win the whole thing."
If there is an expert on a playoff system in college football, Keeler is the man. He has survived the playoffs to compete in his eighth national championship game in 18 years coaching in Division III and the FCS.
"[TCU is] unbelievable," Keeler said. "Gary Patterson is just a phenomenal football coach and what he's done with that program is mind-boggling. For them to not go to a national championship -- we were the third seed and Eastern Washington was the fifth seed. Thank God they just didn't take the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds or we wouldn't have a chance to play for this thing."
It's easy for a coach to endorse a playoff system in college football, but what about the players who have to handle the challenge of playing more games while juggling schoolwork and finals?
Eastern Washington quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has played at both FBS and FCS schools, beginning his career at SMU before transferring to Eastern, and agreed with Keeler -- a playoff is the only way.
"I think even if it's only a four-team playoff or an eight-team playoff, I think that's the way it should be," Mitchell said. "I don't think it's fair that a computer picks the majority of who gets to play in that game. I think it should be up to fate and, honestly, skill level when they play each other."
Delaware's quarterback, Pat Devlin, also has experienced the best of both worlds, playing at Penn State before transferring to Delaware, with the opportunity to play in the Alamo Bowl in 2007 and Rose Bowl in 2008. He believes that not only is a playoff system possible for student-athletes, but it's also fun.
"It is tough -- we play a lot of games," Devlin said. "But that's what we do -- we're football players and we love to be out on the football field. It hasn't been terribly tough, but it's a fun trip."
His take on the playoff system? He admitted he did not care, but he did sympathize with the Horned Frogs' plight.
"I feel bad for those guys -- [TCU QB] Andy Dalton had such a great year," Devlin said. "To be undefeated and not get a shot at the national championship, it's got to be tough, but they've been doing that forever. It's just the way it is."
Travis L. Brown covers high school sports for ESPNDallas.com.