COLUMN: The NCAA needs a better process

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

Only in the National Collegiate Athletics Association can a team be left out of a postseason tournament following a 9-1 season.

That is what happened at 5:30 p.m. last Sunday to the John Carroll University football team. They found out during the Division III selection show that their season was over. 

There are 32 spots in the Division III tournament bracket and 27 of those spots go to conference winners. The other five spots are awarded to at-large teams via a process that is murky and jumbled. 

The Blue Streaks came into week 11 of the Division III football season ranked No. 10 in the rankings and No. 8 in the coaches’ poll. JCU beat a two-loss Baldwin Wallace team, and have won their last seven games. Their only loss came against OAC winner No. 1 Mount Union. 

They did not make the 32-team tournament. 

The five at-large teams to get into the tournament: North Central, Redlands, Wartburg, Wesley and Whitewater. Only Whitewater and North Central were ranked higher than the Blue Streaks in the poll and coaches poll. 

Of the 32 teams in the tournament, seven teams have two losses or more. There is even a team with a 5-5 record. However, one-loss No. 8 John Carroll is on the outside-looking in.

Consider this: the Blue Streaks’ one loss to No. 1 Mount Union was the closest game the Purple Raiders faced all-season. Wartburg’s loss came against No. 24 Central and Redlands’ loss was against No. 11 Chapman. If we are going based on losses, JCU had the “best loss.”

The Blue and Gold weren’t the only team to get burnt. The Susquehanna River Hawks’ single loss came against No. 4 Muhlenberg in overtime — they were also snubbed out of the tournament. 

To add insult to injury, the Blue Streaks and River Hawks both have a tougher strength of schedule than North Central, according to Although their strength of schedule difficulty was only by a .004 point differential, JCU’s ranking was 13 spots higher than North Central in those rankings. 

At the end of the day, there has to be a better process for putting teams into the tournament. Especially, when, based off records alone, there are multiple better teams than the ones that made it into the tournament.

As a result of another no-good NCAA process, one-loss John Carroll’s season is over and 5-5 SUNY-Maritime will play this week.