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Farley questions FCS playoff criteria
UNI football coach feels bad for Missouri Valley
Northern Iowa Coach Mark Farley didn’t know what to expect while watching the Football Championship Subdivision playoff selection show on Sunday.
After the show ended and the Panthers weren’t a part of the 24-team playoff bracket, Farley still is looking for answers.
“What’s the criteria to make it to the playoffs?” he asked Monday during his weekly news conference. “Winning your league is number one. After that, it’s 100 percent crapshoot. I don’t know what it takes to get in except being an automatic qualifier anymore.
“We don’t have the luxury of being (an at-large) team. We have to be the winners of this league.”
For the third consecutive season, North Dakota State received the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s automatic bid. The MVFC, which is ranked the best conference in the FCS by the Gridiron Power Index, placed just two teams into the postseason — NDSU and South Dakota State.
The Big Sky, ranked fifth in the GPI, led all conferences with four teams in the playoffs.
“I’m disappointed for our team, but I’m really disappointed for our league,” Farley said. “To only get two teams in out of a 24-team field, when they claim we have the best league in the country, doesn’t make sense.
“It’s a flawed system. There’s teams you look at and wonder how they got in. That’s the flaw in the system.”
Farley also mentioned the system has become a voting contest and that the confusion in criteria has “created a scheduling contest after the automatic bids.” The Panthers ended the season with three straight wins, but were just 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the MVFC, good for seventh place.
“I’m not sure the Iowa State game helped us at all, nor did the McNeese State game,” Farley said. “It helped get us on the table, but it didn’t help overcome the other phases of it.”
UNI returns all but 12 players from this year’s roster and should have everyone back from injury next season. The Panthers lost multiple starters because of injury this season and ran out of crutches for the team, Farley said.
“It was just one of those years,” he said. “If you play this game hard, you’re going to get banged up.
“Each week we had a new lineup, but this team fought hard. They had great morale all season. We got some backup guys experience, we have a lot of guys coming back, and we’ll make our run.”
By Jake Bemis, Gazette