Screwed System

Whenever playoff time rolls around for any given sport at any given level, you always hear about someone or some team getting screwed out of a playoff spot, but this is especially true in American football. Whether it’s the 2008 New England Patriots, who went 11-5 that year but could not secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs, or the countless NCAA Division I football teams who have finished the regular season undefeated and been on the outside looking in at the BCS National Championship game, there have always been issues with who makes the postseason and who goes home early, some gripes more valid than others.

While the Division II postseason system is much more satisfying than the BCS (hey, at least we have a playoff system instead of some computer that determines the two most viable options for national champion), our system is not without its faults. In the GLIAC, both Grand Valley State University and Hillsdale College each have legitimate gripes after not making this year’s playoffs.

After finishing the season on a seven-game winning streak and as the only school in the GLIAC conference ranked in the top 25 of the AFCA Coaches poll, GVSU (8-3, 7-3 GLIAC) was denied a playoff berth. Instead of adding on to the nation’s longest playoff appearance streak, the Lakers were forced to take a backseat while Saginaw Valley State University (7-3, 7-3 GLIAC), who finished tied with the Lakers in the conference after losing to GVSU 49-24 the day prior to the NCAA Division II playoff selection show, and Wayne State University (8-3, 7-3 GLIAC), who finished tied with the Lakers in both GLIAC and overall records, each managed to waltz their way into the big dance.

As bad as it sounds, someone was going to get left out, and with three straight GLIAC losses early in the season, it would seem at best reasonable that it be GVSU.

Hillsdale, on the other hand, should be pissed, and they have every right to be. The Chargers (8-3, 8-2 GLIAC) had one of their better seasons in recent memory and capped it off by winning the GLIAC. Even the “Bowl Confusion Series” and its mess of a postseason system offers BCS and at-large bids to conference winners. Sure, the Chargers get to celebrate the fact that they were the best team in the conference this season, but why do they have to sit back and watch Saginaw Valley and Wayne State, each of whom finished lower in the conference, go on to the playoffs while they sit and watch? That’s like getting the winning ticket in the lottery and having all of the winnings go to someone who came one number short.

It’s understandable, even expected, to have some teams have good seasons that don’t yield playoff berths, but a conference winner and a nationally ranked team that don’t make the playoffs while two other teams with lower records in the same conference do — that just shouldn’t happen.