Salukis may have to win out to host playoff football games

By Gus Bode

SIU AD explains finer points of I-AA playoffs

Should No.1 SIU win its three remaining regular season games, the circus that was last year’s bidding process may be something the Salukis can watch from the sidelines this time around.

SIU received the short end of the Division I-AA playoff bidding wars last season and, despite being ranked No. 5 in the country, played a road game at then-No. 2 Delaware.


It may have been that SIU didn’t bid enough, scant attendance or the poor facilities at McAndrew Stadium.

But this year, Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said, it may not even matter.

“We’ve been No. 1 practically the whole year, and if we win out, win our conference, it would be incomprehensible that we would be denied the opportunity to host,” Kowalczyk said.

A No. 1 ranking in both polls would all but guarantee SIU one of the top four seeds, which would guarantee at least two home games in the four-round playoff. The final game will be played in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Being No. 1 in the polls, though, does not guarantee a No. 1 seed. The seeds are selected by a committee similar to basketball’s NCAA tournament, and will factor in strength of schedule and a few other things that are a mystery to those outside the committee.

“Sometimes those polls don’t always reflect where the committee’s going with this thing,” Kowalczyk said.

Should SIU be a top four seed, it can bid the minimum amount for each of the first two games, which is likely to be $30,000 for the first round and $40,000 for the second round. Kowalczyk said he would submit bids for every game possible, a process that would be easier if SIU is the top seed.


As of now, there seem to be two candidates for a top seed – No. 1 SIU and No. 2 Georgia Southern.

Of the teams receiving first place votes, those are the only two consistently blowing out their Division I-AA opponents, and both have one loss to a Division I-A team.

SIU lost at Northern Illinois by a point, while Georgia Southern opened its season with a 20-point loss to then-No. 3 Georgia.

Georgia Southern has been nipping at SIU’s heels lately and is likely to continue to get closer, especially if it beats No. 6 Furman in a couple weeks.

SIU’s only option and the only thing the school has control over, Kowalczyk said, is to win the last three games.

“What we can do, and this certainly isn’t to put any pressure on Jerry [Kill] or undercut what we’re doing, is win out,” Kowalczyk said. “If we win out, we’re conference champions, and we’re No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation.”

But the players, in true Jerry Kill fashion, are not thinking that far ahead. The players said they would love a home playoff game, but their prime concern is the upcoming game against Western Illinois and the Gateway championship.

“Our prime motivation right now is a conference championship,” quarterback Joel Sambursky said, pointing out that Western Kentucky is still only one game behind the Salukis. “We haven’t wrapped that up.

“We’re still three games away.”