The coaches and players at Eastern Washington University like to say the playoffs began -- for them, at least -- back in mid-October when they lost to Montana and saw their record drop to 4-3.
Granted, that 41-34 setback to the Grizzlies in Missoula left the Eagles with no margin for error. But had they gone on to lose to Montana State, Portland State or even Southern Utah, there would have always been another game to play.
That is no longer the case, however, because the actual Football Championship Subdivision playoffs are on for real, and it's win-or-bag-up-the-footballs time of all 16 of the teams that will open first-round play today.
Eastern (8-3) starts what it hopes will be a long playoff run at noon today in Nagodoches, Texas, with a first-round showdown against Stephen F. Austin. A win over the Lumberjacks would put the Eagles in position for a potential rematch against unbeaten and top-ranked Montana in MIssoula, Mont.
But to hold up its end of the deal, Eastern will have to find a way to slow down a SFA passing game that is the most prolific in the nation. You can read the game advance that ran in Saturday morning's S-R here.
We have a correspondent covering the game for us, so check out the S-R's website, www.spokesman.com, for details on the game as soon as they are posted. I will also post whatever game stories I can find right here, so please check back, and share any thoughts you might have about the game.