As of Monday night, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Josh Lynn still had hope for a possible bid to the first Heart of Texas Bowl, but he’s not holding his breath.
As expected, Tarleton State was chosen on Monday for the game, scheduled for Dec. 7 at Copperas Cove, Texas. Lynn said ENMU was being considered to play the Texans, but it would have to be approved by the NCAA.
“We might know something in the morning,” Lynn said. “I think our chances are slim, really, but I have no idea.”
ENMU and Tarleton shared the LSC title with identical records (7-3, 5-1 LSC). Other than two co-championships in then-LSC South competition, it’s the school’s second conference crown (1991) and the third for the Texans.
On Sunday, as Lynn anticipated, the Greyhounds were not selected for the 24-team NCAA Division II playoffs.
Third-place West Texas A&M (9-2, 4-2), the only LSC team with fewer than three losses, was the lone team from the conference chosen for the 24-team playoffs. The Buffaloes travel to third-seeded Indianapolis on Saturday.
Playoff teams are determined by regional rankings, with WT sixth in Division II’s “Super Region VI.” No team in the entire playoff field has more than two losses.
The Texans beat the Hounds 34-14 at Blackwater Draw on Oct. 5, but they’re coming off a 44-7 trouncing at home against North Alabama on Saturday that knocked them out of playoff contention.
A 31-28 loss to New Mexico Highlands (2-9) in the season opener likely kept the Hounds from more serious consideration for a playoff berth.
“That’s on us,” Lynn said. “You’ve got to play the full schedule.”
The Greyhounds managed two road comeback wins from more than 20 points down (Angelo State and West Texas A&M) and finished the season on Saturday with a 42-35 win at Texas A&M-Commerce, their sixth road victory in seven tries — including a win at the Air Force junior varsity, which doesn’t count on their record.
Ironically, Lynn noted the Lions (7-4, 2-4) were chosen on Monday for the Texarkana Bowl, likely because of their proximity to the site.
“What I think it comes down to is in these bowl games, the (bowl) committee gets to decide (on teams),” Lynn said. “They’re going to do what’s the best draw. That’s just the way it is, I guess.”
Spurred by the comebacks at Angelo and WT, the Hounds were impressive in the final two weeks in beating Midwestern State (40-21) at home and Commerce.
“That road game against Commerce, that’s not an easy thing to do,” Lynn said. “Their skill guys are as athletic as any we’ve seen this year.
“The thing that’s discouraging is how we’re playing right now. I think we could match up with anybody.”
The last time the Hounds had a playoff game was in 1983, their last season in the NAIA. They lost in the opening round at Mesa College 35-9, and officially started play in the LSC two years later.