MIAA considers options for opening football schedule

The league has played a closed schedule since 2014
MIAA considers options for opening football schedule

The MIAA football task force met on Monday in Kansas City to discuss the future of scheduling in the league. Among the topics discussed, is bringing back non-conference games for the first time since 2013.

The MIAA implemented a closed league schedule in 2014, with all 12 members playing each other over an 11-week period. The goal was to create consistency within the schedule and limit travel expenses for league schools.

“At the time we had Southwest Baptist and Lincoln that were playing in the GLVC,” says MIAA commissioner Mike Racy, “It gave the league 12 members, and it made it very easy to say yes, let’s do a closed schedule.”

“I think it’s one of those things that’s been great for scheduling obviously,” adds Pitt State head coach Tim Beck, “But I think it’s been very difficult for our conference.”

While the closed schedule did make things easier for the MIAA, it created a new problem.

Prior to making the change, the MIAA would regularly put three teams into the Division II national playoffs. In the five years since, the league has only put three teams in the postseason once (2016).

“It’s hard to compare at the end of the year a team from the MIAA that’s 9-2 and a team from any other conference that’s 9-2,” Beck adds, “It’s just really hard to compare who deserves to get in and who doesn’t deserve to get in when you don’t play any non-conference games. We just feel like there’s some teams that advance in other leagues that’s wouldn’t advance if they were in our league. So there’s no way to know that unless we play some games with some other leagues.”

One option the league has discussed is splitting into two divisions, and opening up one or two weeks at the beginning of the season for non-conference games.

Even then, there would be a question of divisional crossover games, how the non-conference games would be scheduled and how to preserve traditional rivalry games.

“If we can get another league to go in with us and do that, I think that would really clear some things up when we’re trying to make those decisions who belongs and who deserves to go to the playoffs,” Beck says.

“It all comes down to…how do we protect the MIAA as one of the strongest Division II conferences in the country, and as a powerhouse in our super region.”

The MIAA football task force will meet again in the spring. They plan to have a report finished by the summer.

The 2019 MIAA football schedule is already locked in, so any changes that would be made wouldn’t be implemented until the 2020 season. Commissioner Racy has told us that if the task force recommends changes to the schedule, those changes would “most likely” come in 2021.