With all the talk of the NCAA expanding their 4-team football playoffs into a 12-team playoff, the NJCAA decided they were going to go for the idea of expansion.
The NJCAA has approved a 4-team soccer playoff for the upcoming 2021-22 season, giving more than two teams the opportunity to compete for the still tough NJCAA national championship.
Previously, the NJCAA had only had a No.1 vs. No.2 team meeting in a neutral location, most recently in Little Rock, Arkansas this season and Pittsburg, Kansas previously. Now they’re going to have a four-team playoff, where the seed and the winners travel to Little Rock for the national championship game.
The playoffs come at the right time as three teams (see below) were undefeated heading into the playoffs. With limited bowl games due to COVID-19, two of the three would end the season undefeated. only Snow, who would fall in the national championship game, would fall from the ranks of the undefeated.
At the end of the 2020 season, No.1 Hutchinson (7-0) would host No.4 Iowa Western (7-1) in the semifinals. Then, No. 2 Snow College (UT) 8-0) would host No. 3 Cisco College (TX) (7-0) in the other semi-final.
The two winners would meet at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock a week later for the national championship.
The Hutchinson Blue Dragons defeated Snow 29-27 in the national title game in Little Rock on June 5 for their first-ever football championship.
In recent seasons there have been other seasons where there was more than one team that was more than qualified to compete for a national championship. In 2016, when Garden City won the national title, East Mississippi was well deserved.
In 2017, the top four teams were all 1-loss teams, with Iowa Western and Snow being the odd-numbered teams. In addition, the undefeated Louisburg (NC) was in the middle of the undefeated standings at 7-0. East Mississippi (EMCC) defeated Arizona Western, 31-28.
In 2018, EMCC was undefeated, but Garden City and Iowa Western parted ways with a 10-1 record. While Lackawanna was undefeated and didn’t have a shot. EMCC defeated Garden City 10-9.
In 2019, the only two undefeated teams played for the national title (Miss. Gulf Coast defeated Lackawanna 24-13).
There were also controversies before that.
It was originally proposed a 12-team playoff format, but realistically this is not financially feasible at the junior college level. This would potentially require a school to make three trips out of state in three consecutive weeks for nearly a group of 100 or more people.
“It would be financially impossible,” said NJCAA CEO Dr Christopher Parker.
The fall 2021 season is set to start as planned according to the NJCAA with games starting the last week of August and through September.