By Eric Rogers
MIDDLETON, Wis. — Madison’s 27-14 win over Roscoe Saturday night saw celebration from players and congratulations for coaches, but a misinterpretation of the MSFL playoff format means the Mustangs will still be fighting for the Northwest Division title.
The Mustangs came into Saturday’s game 3-0 in the division, with wins over Muskego, Lake Geneva, and Monona. With only Roscoe left on the division schedule, Madison figured it would have the best record in Northwest Division play with a win. However, MSFL Radio posted a status on Facebook the following morning recapping the playoff picture:
“Madison Mustangs - With a victory over the Venom and a Rush loss, the Mustangs capture the division title and No. 2 seed. With a Rush win and a Mustang win, they will [be] 5-3 and tied with the Spartans and will fall to the 5th seed below the Spartans.”
The MidStates Football League follows NFL rules and formats, including how division winners are decided. MSFL 2nd Vice President Jake Hollinshead even sent out a letter Monday to clarify the process.
“The division winners are decided by the teams overall record within the league, not if they defeat all the teams in their respected division,” Hollinshead wrote. “...I know this probably will upset some teams but these are the rules we have to follow.”
A sample scenario was provided, showing that if the NFL decided its division winners by record within that division, the St. Louis Rams would have won the NFC West last season with a record of 4-1-1, but just an overall record of 7-8-1.
“This was sent out [Monday] because of the miscommunication,” MSFL Radio added. “However, this format was discussed at the meeting at the start of the year.”
Madison Mustangs Head Coach Adam Smith was left out of this discussion, thus causing some of the confusion:
“[The format] is something that must have been brought up at the owners meeting. I didn’t know anything about that. But what happens, happens and no matter what, we have to play who’s in front of us. It’s out of our control, so we just have to focus on the Milwaukee Venom.”
The Mustangs have a bye week, then host the Milwaukee Venom on Sept. 7 at 6:00p.m. Madison can still win the Northwest Division with a win over the Venom and a loss by the Rush. That would bring both teams to 5-3 on the season, with Madison holding the tie-breaker.
The MSFL post-season schedule is as follows:
Sept. 21 - Wildcard Playoff games
Sept. 28 - Divisional Playoff games
Oct. 5 - Conference Championship games
Oct. 12 - MSFL Championship game (3:00p.m. kickoff)