D2 Football Playoff Selection Q&A

October 26th, 2021 8:00pm

D2 Football Playoff Selection Q&A

The Division II Football Championship will be here in just a few weeks. Each season brings new fans and followers to Division II and if you haven't been through a playoff season before, it might be a little confusing to follow the process and understand how the post-season field is formed. Here are some the basics, and a Q&A to help you learn a few of the details. If reading this isn't enough, check out this segment from the D2 Nation Sunday night show on our YouTube channel. 

D2 Playoff Basics

  • 28 teams make the playoffs
  • The teams are selected regionally
  • There are four super regions that will make up four brackets in the tournament
  • The SAC is part of Super Region Two with the CIAA, GSC and SIAC
  • 7 teams from each region will make the playoffs
  • There are no automatic bids
  • Teams are selected based on published criteria including but not limited to winning percentage against Division II competition, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, results against teams over .500, and more.
  • The #1 seed in each region earns a first-round bye
  • The #2, #3 and #4 seeded teams in each region will host first round games
  • The remaining three teams in each region are unseeded and will be paired with a 2,3, or 4 seed in the first round. It is possible for an unseeded team to be moved to another bracket if it minimizes air travel.
  • After three rounds, the field will be down to the final four – one team from each bracket. Those four teams will then be re-seeded 1-4 and paired with #1 playing #4 and #2 playing #3.
  • The national championship will be held on Saturday, December 18 in McKinney, Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When do playoffs start and how many rounds are there?

A: First round playoff games begin on Saturday, November 20. There are three rounds in the regional brackets, followed by national semifinals and then the championship, for a total of five rounds.


Q: How many teams make the Division II football playoff?

A: A total of 28 teams will be invited to the playoffs


Q: How are the 28 teams selected?

A: The selection process is regional. Division II has four super regions that make up the playoff bracket. The super regions group conferences based geographic proximity. Each region will select 7 teams to make the tournament.


Q: What conferences are in each region?

A:            Super Region 1: GMAC, MEC, NE10, PSAC

                Super Region 2: CIAA, GSC, SAC, SIAC

                Super Region 3: GAC, GLIAC, GLVC, MIAA

                Super Region 4: GNAC, LSC, NSIC, RMAC


Q: Do conference champions get automatic bids to the playoffs?

A: No. There are no automatic bids awarded.


Q: If there are no automatic bids, Is it possible for a conference to be shutout of the playoffs?

A: Yes. Since there are no automatic bids, there have been occurrences when a conference did not have a team qualify for the playoffs. However, there is a rule in place called Earned Access, which awards the final spot in the seven team regional bracket to the highest ranked team from a conference, IF said team is in the top 9 of the regional rankings, but not in the top 7. For example, if the highest ranked team from a conference is 8th in the final regional rankings, it would be awarded the final invitation in that region. If the highest ranked team from a conference is 10th or lower, that conference will not be represented in the playoffs.


Q: How many wins does a team need to make the playoffs?

A: There is no set answer for this. However, there are some basic qualifications that teams must meet just to be considered. Those qualifications are:

  • A team must play a minimum of 10 opponents during the regular season (waivers may be granted for situations such as weather or health related cancellations).
  • A team must play a minimum of 8 Division II opponents during the regular season. (waivers may be granted for situations such as weather or health related cancellations).
  • A team must have a win-loss record of .500 or better against Division II opponents.

Q: Assuming a lot of teams meet the qualifying standards, how are the top 7 determined?

A: There is a set of required selection criteria applied to compare the eligible teams. The regional selection committees apply the following criteria in no particular order:

  • In region winning percentage
  • Winning percentage against Division II opponents
  • Strength of schedule against Division II opponents
  • Head-to-head competition
  • Results against Division II common opponents
    • The commmitte also has approval to consider the following: 
  • Results versus Division II teams with a winning record
  • Results versus ranked Division II opponents
  • Performance Indicator

Q: How is strength of schedule determined?

A: It is completely mathematical and for this, its easiest to lift most of the language directly from Section 2.4: Selection Criteria in the Division II Football Pre-Championship Manual. It begins with calculating a team’s Opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP) AND opponents’ opponents average winning percentage (OOWP)  (I know, that reads very oddly. What it means is winning percentage of all the teams you played AND the winning percentage or all the teams your opponents played). Once OWP and OOWP are calculated, they are combined on a weighted scale with 2/3 weight for OWP and 1/3 for OOWP. The combined, weighted number becomes the strength of schedule.


Q: There have been times when national polls have teams ranked higher than teams ahead of them in the regional rankings. How does this happen?

A: The national polls are opinion polls. There is no set criteria for how voters evaluate teams. Each voter can apply whatever metrics or analysis he or she feels is important. The regional rankings have room for subjective analysis but it is largely a mathematical process.


Q: Who votes in the national polls and regional rankings?

A: There are two national polls. One is compiled by AFCA and tallies votes from 30 head coaches representing every conference. The other national poll is the D2Football.com Top 25. The voters in this poll are D2Football.com columnists and a few carefully selected Sports Information Directors and members of the media. The regional rankings are determined by the Division II Football Championship committee.


Q: Who is on the championship committee?

A: Each region has an eight-person committee made up of two representatives from each conference. Representatives may be sitting head coaches or administrators. Two members from each regional committee will also be assigned to the national committee to provide oversight and coordinate many of the administrative functions that support the tournament.


Q: How can I find out who is on the committee?

A: The committee member assignments are listed on page 12 of the Division II Football Pre-Championship Manual