Coach Rob Ambrose made no attempt to hide his displeasure over the Towson football team being left out of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs last season despite the program going 7-4 and sharing the Colonial Athletic Association championship with three other teams.
With No. 6 Maine (10-1 overall and 7-0 in the league) having already clinched the conference title and earning the automatic bid, the Tigers’ focus has shifted to grabbing an at-large berth, and Ambrose acknowledged thinking that the team has already locked one up with a 9-2 overall record and a 5-2 CAA mark.
“We had a conversation yesterday about the playoffs in a team meeting reviewing the William and Mary game – what we did right, what we did wrong, celebrating what we did right, celebrating the win and then speaking candidly about future opportunities and what each day and what each week means to us as players and as a program with the caveat that when we walked out of that locker room Sunday, the conversation ends about playoffs,” Ambrose said Monday morning during a conference call arranged by the league. “I did tell my team that if we don’t get in the playoffs with nine wins and considering everything, I’m going to make noise, extreme noise on prejudicial bias against us if we don’t get in – which I don’t believe will happen.
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“But we still have goals that are bigger than that,” he continued. “We see the bigger picture, but we have to focus on the things that make us who we are. We still have a home game, we still have a home game that is Senior Day for a group of seniors that have helped lay the foundation for success long after this year and we need to celebrate them the right way. When you’re a young player in the locker room looking up to the older players, Senior Day, you may not quite understand it, but when you’re a senior and never knowing when your last home game could be, all of a sudden, the conclusion of a career becomes a thought in your mind for once and the players in that locker room – from top to bottom – need to respect that and need to play their rear ends off for their seniors. … There’s a lot of things to focus on. There is no comfort because there’s a football game and we need to prepare for it.”
Indeed, there is a lot to play for when James Madison (6-5, 3-4) visits Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Tigers are seeking their first 10-win season since 1983, when the program went 10-2 in Division II.
And as successful as the team has been on the road with 10 straight victories, Towson has dropped its last two games at home and is looking to avoid its first losing record at home since 2010.
Asked if he was worried that the team has struggled at home in its last two games, Ambrose said, “As concerned as I would’ve been if we had lost two games on the road. Those are evaluative distractions. It’s a game, and once we get inside those white lines, it doesn’t matter if we’re playing here or on Mars. It’s a football game, and we need to win it.”