After advancing to the Football Championship Subdivision title game for the first time in program history last year, the Tigers will not make it to the playoffs this fall.
With a 2-4 record in the Colonial Athletic Association and No. 1 New Hampshire topping the league with a perfect 6-0 mark, Towson is eliminated from contention for the conference title and the automatic bid to the postseason. And with a 4-6 overall record and just two games remaining, the team has no shot at getting the eight wins that is regarded as the general rule of thumb for consideration for an at-large berth.
But Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said the lack of a playoff future should not diminish the players’ motivations for their regular-season home finale against William & Mary (6-4, 3-3) at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“There’s about a billion kids that would give appendages to be able to put on a helmet and play Division I football,” he said Monday afternoon during his weekly conference call arranged by the league. “That alone is one of the greatest things on the planet, that we still get to play the game, and for some old guys like me, we don’t get to play it anymore. It’s going to be Senior Day, and from a senior’s perspective, when you become one and when you see that the end is near, you’re certainly praying to God that you have a family and a team that’s going to play their hearts out to give you one of the best memories ever, and we’ve had some pretty good Senior Days here in the last couple of years. And I’d say that in the history of this rivalry, William & Mary has a lot more wins than we do. So we’ve got a whole lot to play for.”
With not much at stake, Saturday’s game might have been an opportunity for Towson to play some younger players to see what they’re capable of in a real-game atmosphere. But Ambrose pointed out that there is no room for experimenting with his injury-depleted squad.
“We only have so many players left that can actually play without risking redshirts,” he said. “For the traveling party [for road games], the total number we can take is 65. We haven’t gotten near that number because we don’t have that many eligible football players that can wear helmets.”
Like the Tigers, the No. 24 Tribe are too far behind for a shot at the league championship. But William & Mary could get to eight wins, which is why coach Jimmye Laycock said he won’t underestimate Towson.
“We know how good Towson was last year, and there are still some of those players back,” Laycock said Monday. “We’ve had our troubles with them for the last couple years. So we know they’re a very good team, and we’ve got to take care of ourselves. We’ve got to take care of our issues that we may have and worry about ourselves. We’re still a long way from where we need to be as a team.”