CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A chance for some postseason football is still within reach of the University of Charleston.
But the Golden Eagles, who face West Virginia State at 1 p.m. today at UC Stadium, need a victory and a bit of assistance, as well as maybe a break in tradition.
UC (8-2) enters today's season finale as the No. 7 team in the NCAA Division II's Super Region 1 rankings and, in all likelihood, must finish the season in the top six to earn one of six regional playoffs berths.
The Golden Eagles not only need to defeat the Yellow Jackets (2-8) but must concern themselves with the Shepherd Rams (7-2), who are ranked No. 6 in the region and play host to Fairmont State today. Shepherd also leads the West Virginia Conference with a 6-1 record in league play; UC, Concord and Glenville are 5-2.
If the Rams win today and tradition holds, Shepherd will be the only WVC team chosen for postseason play, leaving UC out in the cold.
"A Shepherd loss to Fairmont would be a great situation for us,'' said UC coach Pat Kirkland.
Since the WVC debuted in the NCAA playoffs in 1997, no more than one league member has ever been chosen for the annual postseason competition. In some years, WVC teams were shut out entirely.
Thus, the Golden Eagles know they must win today and keep an eye on the Shepherd game, which begins at noon.
Tradition aside, Kirkland believes it's reasonable that both Shepherd and UC should advance to the six-team regional playoff. After all, the 16-team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference regularly sends two, three and sometimes four teams to the playoff.
The tradition of picking just one WVC team for postseason play, said Kirkland, is outdated, or at least should be.
"I think everybody is basing that on a ways ago,'' he said. "As of late, our conference has had success in playing out-of-conference schools, a lot of success. I was in the conference at Glenville from 2000 to 2005 and came back [to the conference] after being at WVU, and the conference has changed drastically in the six years I was gone. The players are better, the coaching staffs are larger and the schools have committed more resources to the programs. This conference can compete with any of them.''