Butler qualifies for FCS playoffs

KYLE BEERY | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

After a strange turn of events and a little bit of luck, the Butler football team is headed to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

The Pioneer Football League announced Tuesday that the Bulldogs (9-3, 7-1 PFL) won a computer rankings-based tiebreaker over Marist (8-3, 7-1). Butler and Marist didn’t play each other and had identical 5-1 records against common PFL opponents, which merited the rankings tiebreaker.

This all comes after the University of San Diego announced last week that it would be withdrawing from PFL title and FCS playoff contention due to improper financial aid benefits.

The Toreros would have won head-to-head tiebreakers against both Butler and Marist, as they won Saturday to also finish PFL play at 7-1.

Butler coach Jeff Voris said in an interview with Mark Minner at halftime of Tuesday’s men’s basketball game that the Bulldogs were a little anxious, but are now relieved to be in the field.

“It was a little bit of a waiting game, but we’re excited for the season and the opportunity and the way the guys played, and to keep going,” Voris said.

Butler kept its postseason hopes alive Saturday with a 58-27 rout on the road against Morehead State.

Before the announcement on Tuesday, Voris said in an interview with The Collegian that the team was just happy to finish strong.

“No doubt, everyone is excited about the season and being able to finish out and get the three wins we needed to be co-champs,” Voris said.

“We’re just excited to be in. That locker room on Saturday, we were celebrating a championship, but it was also, ‘Is this the last time we’re going to be together?,’” Voris said in the Minner interview. “That last game’s always a tough time. So to get this group an opportunity to keep going, we’re excited for them and looking forward to getting back at it next week.”

The Bulldogs are continuing to practice this week, treating it like a bye week as they wait to see who and where they will play.

The FCS playoff field will be announced Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPNU.

This will be Butler’s first postseason appearance since 2009.

The Bulldogs beat Central Connecticut State 28-23 in the Gridiron Classic, an event between the PFL and Northeastern Conference, which has since been discontinued.

But this time it is a little different. Butler makes history with the first appearance in the FCS playoffs by a PFL team.

PFL commissioner Patty Viverito congratulated the Bulldogs in a press release.

“First, I want to congratulate both Butler and Marist on their championships,” Viverito said. “It speaks to the high quality of play in the league this season that we had to use all of our tiebreakers to determine our automatic qualifier.”

“We look forward to Butler carrying the PFL flag into the Division I Football Championship for the first appearance by a league member.”

Voris said no matter who or where they play, they are grateful to be a part of history.

“Wherever we go, we’re going to have a test, and we know that and we’re excited for that,” Voris said. “We’re going to work hard to not only represent Butler, but represent the PFL.”

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