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Bucs' playoff fate out of their hands

Joe Avento • Updated Nov 17, 2018 at 7:27 PM

East Tennessee State University football coach Randy Sanders will be watching television on Sunday just like everyone else to find out if his team had been selected for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

“Whenever your fate is being determined by somebody else, it’s not a whole lot of fun,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ team had a chance to earn the Southern Conference’s automatic playoff bid on Saturday, but a 38-27 loss to Samford at Greene Stadium left the Bucs’ future up to a selection committee.

With an 8-3 overall record, a share of the conference championship and a win over Furman, one of the other two teams to claim a piece of the title, the Bucs seem to have a pretty good case at making the playoffs.

However, nothing is certain — not until they hear their name mentioned on the selection show, which is being shown Sunday on ESPNU beginning at 12:30 p.m.

“We hope we have at least one more game,” ETSU linebacker Dylan Weigel said. “Wherever the chips fall, they fall. If not, we’ve had a great time here. It was an honor to play here.”

Sanders said he didn’t know if the committee will tip him off before the show because he’s never been through this. He’s used to finding out about bowl bids, having coached on the major-college level for his entire career.

“AlI I know is we’re 8-3, we won a share of the Southern Conference championship, which means you’re a pretty good football team, I think,” Sanders said. “It would be a great tribute to our players and it would be a great story to get to the playoffs. Whether we deserve it or not, I’ll leave that to someone else.”

ETSU President Brian Noland wore a look of disappointment on his face as the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday, but smiled when asked about the success the team has had during Sanders’ first season at the helm.

“This is just been a magical season,” Noland said. “I am so proud of our seniors. Those young men created the foundation for everything that’s going to come.

“I had a chance to speak to a couple of the seniors in the past few days and they reminded me of their recruiting visits. When they were here, I still was recovering from a car accident. We didn’t have a field. We were telling them that we’d practice on the intramural fields and that we were going to build a stadium that we hadn’t even designed yet. The real champs of this are the individuals out there playing for a championship. I’m proud of these young men.”

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