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« SPECIAL REPORT: The CSN Way: Who's In?College Sporting News National All-Stars, 11/16/2009 »

Permalink 11/16/09 , FCS News, CSN Staff

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How The 2009 D-I Football Championship Works

The highest level of NCAA championship football is just a short week away from announcing the 2009 playoff bracket and teams. On “Selection Sunday” this week, November 22, the Division I Football Championship Committee will unveil which eight teams have been chosen as at-large participants and the official bracket. Let’s examine how this all works and the people involved.



The Division I Football Championship provides for a maximum field of 16 teams in 2009. Eight member conferences have been granted automatic qualification for the 2009 championship and the remaining eight teams will be selected at-large by the Division I Football Championship Committee. The top four teams in the 16-team bracket for the championship will be seeded based on merit. Then team pairings will be determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference may not be paired in the first round.


The Division I Football Championship is under the control, direction and supervision of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee. These are the current members of the committee which are divided into four regions:

Mark Sandy, Athletics Director of Eastern Kentucky University (chairperson) and Ron Strollo, A.D. of Youngstown State University.

Bruce McCutcheon, A.D. of Lafayette College (chairperson), Craig Coleman, A.D. of Robert Morris University, and John McCutcheon, A.D. of Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Warren Koegel, A.D. of Coastal Carolina University (chairperson), Charles Cobb, A.D. of Appalachian State University, and Floyd Kerr, A.D. of Morgan State University.

Richard Bernardi, A.D. of Nicholls State University (chairperson) and Jim O’Day, A.D. of University of Montana.

The following are the regional advisory committees that have been appointed by their respective committee members in their regions to assist in the evaluation of teams throughout the season:

Mike Cigelman, Drake University
Phil Dane, University of Tennessee at Martin
Mike Kelly, University of Dayton
Sheahon Zenger, Illinois State University

Andy Alia, Northeast Conference
Mark Hermann, Towson University
Frank McLaughlin, Fordham University

Don Hill-Eley, Morgan State University
Duane Lewis, Southwestern Athletic Conference
Chip Smith, Western Carolina University
Donny White, Virginia Military Institute

Ken Beazer, Southern Utah University
Torre Chisholm, Portland State University
Robert Hill, Stephen F. Austin State University


Starting in late September the committee members begin traveling each week in an official capacity to games around their region. They meet with the Athletic Directors, coaches, study the facilities, and collect information to share with other committee members in a weekly teleconference call.


Beginning in late October, Championship information and forms are mailed from NCAA national office to prospective championship participants. The deadline for submitting the completed package is two weeks later.

Most crucial for teams that want to host games is the proposed budget because once the four seeded teams are selected, the host site selection criteria is examined.

With regard to first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal host sites, the committee considers the minimum financial guarantees, 75 percent of the estimated net receipts as submitted on the proposed budget:

First round $30,000
Quarterfinal $40,000
Semifinal $50,000

Then if the minimum financial guarantees are met, the committee will award the playoff sites to the top four seeded teams.

Once the game is played, the guarantee is paid to the NCAA from the gross receipts (minus the schools budgeted and unbudgeted expenses) along with 75% of the remainder. The NCAA uses the capital to pay for running the championship, travel, etc.

A financial report from each championship site must be submitted online to the NCAA not later than 60 days after the competition.

When determining host sites for playoff games when both teams are unseeded, the committee decides the location based on quality of facility, revenue potential plus estimated net receipts, attendance history and potential, team’s performance (e.g., conference place finish, head-to-head results and number of Division I opponents), student-athlete well-being (travel, missed class time, etc.), and previous crowd-control measures and crowd behavior of the prospective host institution.

If a quarterfinal or semifinal playoff site is not bid on by the schools involved, the committee will contact the schools and give them the chance to submit a bid. If neither is willing to submit a proposed budget at the current level, the previous round’s minimum financial guarantee will be offered. If seeded teams are not involved, the committee will determine the host institutions by applying the championship site selection criteria in NCAA Bylaw


November 22, final selections and announcement of bracket during televised announcement at approximately 3 p.m. (Eastern time) on ESPNews.


The following eight conferences have been granted automatic-qualification privileges for the 2009 championship:
Big Sky Conference
Colonial Athletic Association
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Ohio Valley Conference
Patriot League
Southern Conference
Southland Conference

The following principles shall apply when selecting at-large teams:
1. The committee shall select the best teams available on a national at-large basis to complete the bracket;
2. There is no limit to the number of teams the committee may select from one conference;
3. The won-lost record of a team will be scrutinized to determine a team’s strength of schedule; however, less than seven Division I wins may place a team in jeopardy of not being selected;
4. The committee may give more consideration to those teams that have played all Division I opponents; and
5. If the team of a committee member is under consideration, the member may not vote for the team being considered and will not be in the room when a vote is taken.
6. For those conferences that qualify for automatic qualification but do not receive it, a guaranteed at-large position shall be awarded in any year in which its conference champion team meets all of the following conditions:
a. Team wins a minimum of eight Division I games during the season;
b. Team wins a minimum of two non-conference games against Division I teams representing a conference that has earned an automatic qualification in that year;
c. Team finishes the season ranked 16 or higher in an average of the last regularseason media, coaches and/or computer polls (which will be determined by the committee on an annual basis). For 2009, the media poll will be the Sports Network Poll, the coaches poll will be the FCS Coaches poll and the computer poll will be a variation of the Gridiron Power Index – using only the following computer rankings: The Massey Ratings, Wolfe Rankings, Ashburn Rankings, Self Rankings and the Laz Index.

Participating teams are limited to a maximum number of 60 student-athletes in uniform (70 student-athletes for the championship game). Replacements are permitted up to the starting time of the game; after the game begins, no replacements shall be permitted for any reason.


All pairings will be made by the Division I football championship committee. The following principles are applied when pairing teams:

1. The teams awarded the top four seeds are placed in the appropriate positions in the bracket (Nos. 1 and 4 in the upper half, and Nos. 2 and 3 in the lower half), and will be paired with teams that are in closest geographic proximity;
2. The remaining teams will be paired according to geographic proximity and placed in the bracket according to geographic proximity of the four pairings previously placed in the bracket.
3. Teams from the same conference will not be paired for first-round games;
4. Once the first-round pairings have been determined, there will be no adjustments to the bracket.

Once the 16-team bracket has been determined, the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee will determine by a coin flip as to whether the winner of the upper half or lower half of the bracket will be the home team for the championship game.

However, if the host institution is selected to participate in the playoffs and should advance to the championship game, it will be permitted to use its normal dressing room and the home team bench area.


November 28 Opening round games

December 5, Quarterfinal games.

December 11 and 12, Semifinal games.
The semifinal games during the 2009 Division I Football Championship will be conducted on two different days. One semifinal game will occur Friday evening, December 11, while the other will occur Saturday, December 12. The games will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN, respectively. The semifinal schedule will be determined by the Division I Football Championship Committee on the Sunday following the quarterfinal round.

December 18, Championship game, W. Max Finley Stadium/Davenport Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Tentative ESPN broadcast schedule:
November 28 NOON ET ESPNU
December 5 NOON ET ESPN360/ESPN Syndication
December 5 2:00 PM ET ESPN360/ESPN Syndication
December 5 3:30 PM ET ESPN360/ESPN Syndication
December 5 7:00 PM ET ESPN360/ESPN Syndication
December 11 8:00 PM ET ESPN2 HD
December 12 4:00 PM ET ESPN HD
December 18 8:00 PM ET ESPN2 HD

ESPN has the right of first refusal on televising games and then other outlets get the chance for broadcasting them.


An allotment of tickets will be reserved for the competing institutions. Each competing institution will have access to 500 tickets. Not less than half of the tickets should be located between the 30-yard lines unless undue hardship is caused to season ticket holders, which must be indicated on the ticket manifest. Host institutions must reserve seats behind their opponent’s bench for visiting spectators that shall be located somewhere between the 30- yard lines. Further, the seats allocated for the visiting spectators shall start with the lowest possible row to ensure that no home team spectators are located in front of the visiting spectators.

The host institution or sponsoring agency will retain 250 of the 500 tickets, and the competing institutions will be advised that they are available, if needed. Additional tickets may be purchased, but the seat locations will not be guaranteed.

Each institution shall return all money and unsold tickets, and inform the host institution or sponsoring agency of the number it will require from the 250 tickets being retained, not later than 6 p.m. Thursday before the game. If the tickets are not returned to the host institution or sponsoring agency by this time, the institution shall be responsible for all unreturned tickets at face value. Once the competing institutions release the tickets being retained, the host institution or sponsoring agency will use them for public sale.

The minimum ticket prices shall be $10 for reserved seating and $6 for general admission. A $5 student general admission ticket, with student identification card, is permissible for grade school, high-school and college students for first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal games. All playoff tickets, however, shall not be less than the regular-season ticket prices of the host institution.


First-round game times will be set by the NCAA not later than 1 p.m. Eastern time the Monday preceding the game.

The halftime intermission will be 20 minutes. Eighteen minutes will be allotted for the halftime entertainment

Artificial elements (e.g., fireworks, smoke, cannons, artificial sounds/noises, video board productions) used to enhance the experience for participating teams and fans may be used by either team; however, such elements (e.g., mascots, video boards) should not be used to demean the opposing team in any manner or create an unsportsmanlike environment.

Artificial noisemakers (e.g., thunder sticks, cow bells, air horns) shall not be permitted


Instant replay will be used at both semifinal sites and the 2009 Division I Football Championship game.


The seven game officials for all games will be selected by the Division I football championship committee from Division I Football Championship Subdivision conferences. The committee will use the following criteria when assigning officials: (1) Officials must be neutral and games between two institutions from the same conference must be officiated by an officiating crew from another conference; (2) proximity of officials to the playoff site; and (3) frequency of assignments. The officials will receive $450 each per game, plus travel expenses, including air transportation, if necessary.

Before championship selections, conferences must submit a roster of their top two officiating crews. Crews will be selected to work various rounds of the championship based on the following criteria:

1. Only officiating crews from the eight automatic conferences will be considered to work a game during any round of the championship.
2. Only the top two officiating crews, as designated by each conference, will be considered to work a game during the preliminary rounds of the championship.
3. Only the top officiating crew, as designated by each conference, will be considered to work the championship game.
4. For rounds of championship competition during which instant replay will be used (e.g., semifinals, championship game), a Referee’s experience with instant replay will be considered by the committee in determining officiating crew assignments. Assignments for the championship game will be rotated among conferences annually, however, the committee will determine each year which conference’s officials will work the championship game.


The Wilson F1001, F1003, F1004 and F1005 footballs are the official balls for the championship and will be used in all rounds of competition. Institutions will be allowed to choose the model of Wilson football they wish to use while on offense throughout the championship.

(Source: The NCAA)