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Division II College Football Teams Stick by Playoffs

Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University

By Greg Echlin


Kansas City, MO –
Major college institutions rely on a set of polls to determine the national championship in football, but all other NCAA divisions are in a playoff system.

Three area teams--Northwest Missouri, Missouri Western and Central
Missouri--were in the NCAA Division Two playoffs.

While the debate continues over the structure of the Bowl Championship Series, the teams on the other NCAA levels are content with settling it on the field, or so it seems.

Central Missouri coach Jim Svoboda has coached on the Division II level and the major college level. He served ten years at Northwest Missouri in Maryville as an assistant and three years as an assistant at UCLA.

Despite the disappointment of losing to Northwest in the quarterfinals, Svoboda favors a playoff format.

" You settle it on the field and I've always felt that it should work at every level. But it makes for a long season," says Svoboda.

Had UCM made it to the title game, it would have resulted in a 16- game season for the Mules, equal to the number of regular season NFL games.

Bob Boerighter is the commissioner of the MIAA, the NCAA's Division II conference based in downtown Kansas City. He says he hasn't heard any complaints about the length of the season.

" One of the things which is different from Division I to Division II, among many things, is there are a high number of Division I athletes that think they're going to have a pro career. They don't want to risk injury on the college level because they think it's going to hurt their pro career," says Boerighter.

"Now we've had a number of outstanding student-athletes in Division II go on to professional sports, but our Division II people will tell you their business is producing college graduates, not professional athletes. So a football player loves every opportunity he can have to play a game of football," says Boerighter.

But Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, says he has heard otherwise.

" I'll give you one example. Bobby Hauck, who had a great career coaching in Montana, and was a great IAA or FCS team. They always did well. Their playoff games drew well and Bobby's now the coach at UNLV. He told me last month. He said, Bill, please do whatever you can to not get a playoff," says Hancock.

One reason given is financial. It's not a windfall for Division II playoff teams. Some even lose money.

The NCAA covers most of the costs, but not all. The sold-out game between UCM and Northwest Missouri was televised by Metro Sports. But the TV rights fees paid to the NCAA goes into a general fund and not to the two schools, nor the conference.

As the former athletics director at Northwest, Boerighter feels the ancillary benefits outweigh the costs.

"Our coaches, I think, will tell you virtually every recruit they signed in football each year had seen them play on television in the national championship game over 50 percent had also seen them play in the semifinal game, so playing on television does make a difference," says Boerighter.

So if the NCAA coordinates football playoffs on every other level, why doesn't the
NCAA oversee playoffs at the top level?

Bill Hancock addresses that question.

" It's part tradition. The NCAA has never been involved in managing this. Back in 1902, when the Rose Bowl started it was outside the NCAA's jurisdiction and the conferences feel like they can manage it better. They like the bowl system and they want that to continue," says Hancock.

So it will. A plethora of bowl games will start Saturday. Meanwhile, the Division II campaign will conclude Saturday with a new champion since the defending champ, Northwest Missouri, lost its semifinal game last weekend.

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