NAIA Football Could Possibly Move to 20 Team Postseason

The first major change to the NAIA football postseason since 1996 could be coming soon.

A task force in the NAIA is considering a move from 16 postseason qualifiers to 20 as early as 2025. The National Administrative Council (NAC) will mull over the issue in advance of the 2023 NAIA National Convention in New Orleans, La. in April.

If approved, the move would allow each qualified conference to have one automatic qualifier. There are currently 13 conferences which participate in NAIA football. To be a qualified conference, there must be six teams in the league. Proposals like this have been brought forth in the past to move to a 24 team postseason but had been shot down based on the shear numbers. The delay until 2025 would be to allow for conferences with advanced schedules to make appropriate changes.

The move to 20 teams would mean 20% of NAIA football teams would qualify for the postseason, a threshold typically used by other major sports in the association. There are currently 99 teams playing in the NAIA division. Men’s Basketball has 233 total teams with 64 qualifying for postseason (27%). Volleyball has 224 total teams with 48 qualifying for the postseason (21%).

The proposal could eliminate the one continuous sticking point every NAIA football postseason where “conference champions rated in the top 20” where seemingly ever year someone is left out or has to fight to make the Top 20. Although, there will be more discussion to determine that portion of the proposal.

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The Passing of NAIA Coaching Legend Bob Young

Bob Young was the head coach of the University of Sioux Falls when they won their first NAIA national title in 1996.

Bob Young, the NAIA Hall of Famer and catalyst behind the success of the University of Sioux Falls football program, passed away today. He was 83.

My first experience with Coach Young was when I started NAIAFOOTBALL.NET in 2002. After I introduced myself at GPAC Media Day and that I was starting to cover the NAIA as a “national” media outlet, Bob couldn’t have been nicer. He remembered I played at Dana College and even knew I was a linebacker. That was significant to me because I wasn’t very good and would hardly leave an impression on any opposing coach watching film. He spoke to me for 20 minutes about NAIA football and gave me great insight about the division from a national perspective. From day one, Bob was one of the kindest coaches I had ever been around.

Stories of his kindness came from all over the county. Other coaches, former players etc. But my favorite came from my old head coach at Dana College, Jim Krueger. Krueger was an assistant with Dana College at the time.

It was 1988 and both Dana College and the University of Sioux Falls (then Sioux Falls College) were both underfunded in their football departments. The Vikings and Cougars faced off in the regular season in Vermillion, SD at the Dakota Dome with USF winning 26-7. Dana had loaded their players onto a bus to head home and some of the coaches followed in other vehicles to take equipment back to Blair, Neb. On the way out of town, the equipment bag of footballs fell out of the back of one of the trucks driven by a Dana coach. The coach didn’t realize this happened.

Bob Young saw it from whatever vehicle he was in on his way back to Sioux Falls. They pulled over and picked up the footballs. The next part of the story is murky as I am not sure if Coach Young instructed a coach to chase down the Dana truck or if his own vehicle made the delivery. But needless to say, a representative of the Cougar football team grabbed the footballs and caught up with the Dana coaches to give them their bag before they got too far down the road.

Leo McKillip, Dana’s head coach at the time, called Coach Young the next day to thank him. Bob explained his football team didn’t have much of a budget at the time and if they would’ve lost a bag of footballs they likely would have been told they couldn’t buy any more that season. Knowing that Dana was in a similar situation with their football budget, Coach Young couldn’t stomach the thought of the Dana coaches having to beg their administrations to buy more footballs that season.

Young retired after the 2004 season. In 22 seasons as the USF coach, Young posted a 172-69-3 record with 13 conference championships.

The Other Division of Football Podcast: An Intro to NAIAFOOTBALL.NET

The Greatest Defunct NAIA Football Program of All-Time

Cameron University (Okla.) won the 1987 NAIA DI National Title over Carson-Newman 30-2.

With the closing of Presentation College, I got to thinking about all of the programs that have come and gone from NAIA football. Everyone has heard of the big time programs who dropped football in DI and even DII, but what about at the NAIA level?

As a graduate of now defunct NAIA football program, it’s a subject I know way too much about. Dana College closed their doors the summer of 2010 and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I think about what might have been. Every time I buy a MegaMillions or Powerball ticket I think about what it would cost to buy the school back and start things back up.

But them I remember there are other worthwhile investments and most of the campus has been purchased already. Oh yeah, and those 700 million to 1 odds.

So with that said. . .who is the greatest defunct NAIA football program of all time? Presentation College had a couple of nice years and even put together a six-win and seven-win seasons in back-to-back years. But there’s no way that constitutes the greatest defunct program of all-time. There are a lot of ways to look at this. Longevity. Overall wins and losses. Conference Championships.

Naturally, I had to investigate. As best I could tell, here’s a pretty solid list of now defunct NAIA programs that I did some analysis on. If I’m missing one, let me know and I’ll add it

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Presentation College (S.D.) to Close. PC Saints Football Era Over.

Presentation College of Aberdeen, SD announced today that it will not enroll students for the 2023-24 academic year and will cease educational operations at its Aberdeen campus after the Spring and Summer 2023 sessions. Three Teach-Out Agreements with other higher educational institutions are in place to provide complete credit acceptance and comparable net tuition costs for current students. Employees will be provided staggered end dates and final compensation based upon their responsibilities.

Presentation football only existed from 2011-2022. Like most new programs, they went through their share of hard times. Finishing 3-8 in 2022, the Saints will likely go down as “what might’ve been” if Presentation College could’ve turned the corner with enrollment and finances. The Saints saw winning seasons in 2016 (7-3) and 2016 (6-4) but otherwise never saw their team get above .500.

I’ve met Coach Steve Heimann a handful of times and I hope he and his staff do everything they can to get their players to new homes at other schools across the country. In the end, let’s hope everyone associated with PC can land on their feet.

Ramblings of Dannelly: Small College Football Communications and General Gripes.

Over the last couple months I have been preparing the selections of the 2022 Rimington Award. This is a process I have done every year for roughly the last 15 years.

Watch games, gather names, look at stats, research the winners. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I really enjoy doing this every year. But there are a few things I’ve noticed over the last couple of years in the world of small college football that have really started to get to me. Things that really haven’t changed over those 15 years and need to. Or things that have changed that frankly didn’t need to. So here’s my list of gripes that I need to get off my chest.

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Northwestern defeats Keiser to win 2022 NAIA Football National Championship

Northwestern Wins the 2022 NAIA Football National Title. (Zachary Lucy Photography)

DURHAM, N.C. – Scoring 28 second half points, No. 3 seeded Northwestern (Iowa) secure its third-ever NAIA National Championship and first since 1983 by winning 35-25 over No. 12 Keiser (Fla.).

With two of the best offenses in the nation coming into town, the low-scoring first half was seen as a surprise from fans in attendance as both defenses stood tall.

The Red Raiders (13-1) special teams were a crucial factor in the outcome of the first 30 minutes, with a missed field goal on their opening drive along with a massive punt to pin the Seahawks (10-4) inside the two-yard line.

The special teams’ execution didn’t matter to Keiser, as they marched down the field to score the first touchdown of the day thanks to a one-yard rush by running back Marques Burgess.

Northwestern would respond just 18 seconds later as wide receiver Cade Moser broke free for a 69-yard catch and run to even the score at seven, and the two programs headed to the locker room tied.

Quarterback Jalyn Gramstad had a special connection with Moser throughout the contest, as the two opened the second half with an explosive 64-yard end around to take the lead.

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2022 AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Teams Announced

WACO, TEXAS — Morningside (Iowa) quarterback Joe Dolincheck and Siena Heights (Mich.) linebacker Kole Murlin headline the 2022 AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Teams announced today by the American Football Coaches Association.

The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves.

Dolincheck earned his second straight AFCA All-America honor by leading the nation in passing yards per game (353.9) and touchdowns (37). He also picked up his second straight Great Plains Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honor. Murlin also picked up his second straight AFCA All-America honor. He was fourth in the country with 11.4 tackles per game (114 total) and added 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Murlin earned Mid-States Football Association Mideast Defensive Player of the Year for the third year in a row.

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Joe Dolincheck Named Back-To-Back National Player of the Year

DURHAM, N.C. – Morningside University (Iowa) Quarterback Joe Dolincheck has been selected as the NAIA Football National Player of the Year, for the second straight season. He conducted a potent offense that went 10-0 in the regular season and was the consensus number one team in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 20 Poll throughout the year.

The Bellevue, Nebraska product backed up his award winning 2021 campaign with a second straight trophy worthy endeavor. Despite missing two games to end the regular season and the First Round contest of the Football Championship Series, Dolincheck threw for 3,185 yards and 37 touchdowns to only four interceptions. He completed 197 of 286 attempts (68.9%) and averaged 11.1 yards per throw and 353.9 yards per game. Factoring in only 47 yards lost due to seven total sacks, he posted a passing efficiency of 202.3.

Earlier this week, Dolincheck was chosen as a NAIA/AFCA First-Team All-American for the second straight year in addition to being named to the 2019 Associated Press Little All-America Team. In November he was named Offensive Player of the Year of the Great Plains Conference in back-to-back seasons.

2022 NAIA Football Championship Game Preview

DURHAM, N.C. – The Battle For The Red Banner will end at Durham County Memorial Stadium on Saturday, December 17th as No. 3 Northwestern (Iowa) will square off on the field against No. 12 Keiser (Fla.) with kickoff slated for 12:00 p.m. EST on ESPN3.

  • The Red Raiders have played in the championship game four times previously, while this Seahawk team is forging new territory for the program
  • The Seahawks have pulled their third straight upset victory, knocking off the both the reigning champions and the runners-up from a year ago
  • Keiser has previously beaten the No. 4, No. 1. and No. 2 seeds in the tournament and now face off against the No. 3 seed
  • Saturday will mark the first meeting all-time between the two teams.
  • Both teams – NWC and Keiser – sit top-5 in the NAIA in the rushing touchdown category, the Seahawks sitting fourth with 31.
  • No. 3 Northwestern College (Iowa) Red Raiders (12-1)
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