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Schedule a bit different in the MIAA

Published on -9/4/2012, 10:18 AM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Through Week 1, the new-look 15-team MIAA has seven teams at 1-0 and seven squads at 0-1 in league play. Northwest Missouri State University is 1-0 overall, but 0-0 in league action after the Bearcats defeated East Central (Okla.) in a non-conference game last week.

In almost any conference in the country, Northwest Missouri wouldn't be in first place.

The teams at 1-0 would be in first, followed by Northwest, followed by the 0-1 teams.

However, the MIAA will determine a conference champion differently this season with the 15-team league and unbalanced schedule. Some squads will play 10 conference games, others 11. University of Nebraska-Omaha left the conference last season after the schedule was set several years in advance.

"The champion will be determined by the loss column," MIAA commissioner Bob Boerigter said.

If more than one team is 11-0 or 10-0 in league play, the teams will tie for the conference championship. While some Division II conferences, and many FBS leagues, hold conference championship games, the MIAA won't. Plus, to alleviate scheduling issues, the MIAA rarely will play non-conference games.

This year, to make up for UNO, Fort Hays has to travel to South Dakota School of Mines for its lone non-conference contest in late October.

"We have some strange years ahead of us," Missouri Western State University coach Jerry Partridge said. "You are not going to have to a true champion right now, that's just the way it is. It could be that way, where the team that wins it, like they are the best, but you have some potential for some weird stuff."

During a four-year stretch, the MIAA schedule makers will have every team face every conference opponent home and away. However, each team will play its designated rival in Week 11 each season. For Fort Hays, that's University of Nebraska-Kearney.

While some Division II conferences, such as the Lone Star and Northern Sun, split into North and South, the MIAA wanted to stay as one 15-team league. Boerigter said a split into divisions could cause some headaches.

"We didn't want to split," Boerigter said.

The unbalanced schedule could hurt some teams and help others. Fort Hays State University has a difficult first four contests against Emporia State University -- a 41-18 loss last Thursday -- and now three games against powerhouses Washburn University, Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western.

Lindenwood avoids Northwest and Missouri Western and opens the season against Lincoln and Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University, teams that have long struggled in the MIAA. Lindenwood, in its first season of MIAA play, defeated Lincoln 49-28 on Saturday.

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