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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Another AFL mess

It was thought that tonight's Spokane-Pittsburgh game had no bearing on the AFL playoff picture.

However, Shock majority owner Brady Nelson told me 30 minutes before kickoff he's been informed by the league office that the No. 1 seed in the National Conference is not settled, even though it has been reported that Arizona clinched the West Division and top seed on the AFL Website.

More below. 

There will be no issue if Spokane loses tonight or Arizona wins at Iowa on Saturday night. However, if the Shock win and Rattlers lose, they both will have 14-4 records. Then it would go to tiebreaking procedures and the third tiebreaker is where it gets complicated.

From the league Website: If two teams are tied for Division Champions:
    1. Record in head-to-head games
    2. Record within the Division
    3. Record against common opponents
    4. Point differential in head-to-head games
    5. Point differential in games against common opponents
    6. Coin toss

No. 1 doesn't resolve it because the teams split. No. 2 doesn't resolve it because they both went 4-2 vs. division opponents. As for record against common opponents, Spokane would finish 10-2, Arizona would finish 11-3. The question is whether the third tiebreaker is determined by winning percentage (which favors Spokane) or number of wins (which favors Arizona).

Nelson sent the AFL a letter two days asking for a clarification on the third tiebreaker from the rules and competition committee.

"I know they met (Friday) and they have a recommendation for the AFL board, but it won't be announced until Sunday," Nelson said. "The league bylaws say that you have to have 48 hours notice to have a binding meeting."

Since both teams have an unbalanced schedule (Spokane 12 games vs. common opponents and Arizona 14), Nelson argues that the third tiebreaker should come down to winning percentage.

"It says record, which implies wins and losses," he said. "It doesn't say the amount of wins."

Nelson said AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz told him he hasn't ruled on the matter. However, the AFL Website, as many as 10 days ago, noted several times that Arizona had clinched the division title and will be the No. 1 seed hosting San Jose in the first round..

Both teams will host in the first round, but the result of the ruling will impact the first-round opponent, and should both teams advance, the site of the National Conference title game.

Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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