MISSOULA – Kent Haslam stays plenty busy as Montana’s athletic director, but the man in charge of the Grizzlies’ athletic department the past seven years has added a new role.
Now he’s picking who gets into the FCS playoffs, and he is diving into every detail.
“Watch a lot of games,” said Haslam. “A lot of comparative data, records against opponents, big wins, and a system of strength that’s developed by some mathematicians.”
The Montana AD started a four-year term on the FCS Playoff Selection Committee this season. He pores over his resources to come up with his own top 25, then spends time on the phone going over the results with the rest of his new team of nine fellow athletic directors. The committee continually updates its own rankings. Then Haslam will head to Indianapolis the final day of the regular season to help make the final selections.
Haslam’s Grizzlies and the rival Montana State Bobcats are no strangers to the process. Despite their current 4-4 records, Haslam says both Treasure State teams still have a chance, but they have to win their final three games.
“Oh, I’m sure they’d be in the discussion,” said Haslam. “Seven wins with the schedule that both of those schools play, all Division I games, certainly would help.”
The FBS postseason remains stuck in constant debate while searching for the best format. Meanwhile, the FCS has long held a much larger playoff with little controversy. Haslam feels the current bracket of 24 teams, featuring 10 conference champions and 14 at-large bids, fits the FCS perfectly.
“I like the playoffs,” said Haslam. “I obviously like it. I think that it determines a true champion. You’ve certainly seen great momentum around the FCS playoffs. I think this is a good setup.”
The selection committee only releases its ongoing rankings to the public once. It revealed its top 10 Wednesday, led by defending champion North Dakota State and James Madison. The Big Sky put three teams on the list: UC Davis at No. 3, Weber State at No. 4, and Eastern Washington at No. 9. The top eight teams receive a bye in the first round.