FCS playoffs finally open door to Pioneer Football League

Macon TelegraphAugust 23, 2012 

        The Pioneer Football League has been in existence since 1991, but has on the sidelines when the FCS playoffs start.

        That changed last week when the NCAA expanded the FCS playoff format to 24 teams in 2013 and gave the PFL the automatic bid it had so long coveted.

        The PFL announced it as well in a release this week.

        The new format is a 24-team bracket - 11 conference champs and 13 at-large bids - with eight national seeds getting a first-round bye. The 16 teams left - and FCS playoff fans, think about this - will be " be placed in the bracket with an emphasis on geographical proximity," according to the NCAA's release.

        The PFL is the lone football-only non-scholarship conference in the nation. And whoever wins the conference next season - San Diego, Drake, Jacksonville and Dayton are the perennial favorites - will make the PFL's first postseason trip ever. It had never been awarded an at-large bid despite some quality records. The problem: the quality records came against extraordinarily weak schedules.

        Example: Jim Harbaugh-led San Diego was 11-0 in 2006, but hardly got a look for the 16-team field because of 10 games against Division II or non-scholarship programs.

        Entering the 2010 season finale, the highest-ranked PFL team in the Gridiron Power Index was Jacksonville at No. 32.

        The schedules have gotten better for PFL teams, as has attention in the polls, although being ranked remains quite the exception.

        On the other hand, the league's record book hasn't been updated since after the 2009 season, although the cover sheet says it was updated in July of 2010.


        The Ivy League, also non-scholarship, and HBCU Southwestern Athletic Conference, don't participate in the playoffs.


        Campbell, the newest and youngest  PFL program (born 2008), is 13-31.







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