Beef Barred From IFL Playoffs

by Jay Elsen June 19, 2012

When the Indoor Football League playoffs kick off this weekend, one qualifying team will be watching.

The Omaha Beef, which dropped a 59-20 decision at Sioux Falls in last week’s regular season finale, is one of three teams  in the United Conference  to finish the regular season with a 6-8 record.

According to league tiebreaking procedures, the Beef earned the conference’s fourth and final playoff spot. However, in a controversial and unexplained decision, the league has awarded that spot to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks.

I was made aware of this possibility last week in an email from interim IFL commissioner, Robert Loving.

“There are some extenuating circumstances that may impact whether Omaha will be able to participate in the playoffs even if they qualify with their record,” he wrote. 

 As the week went on, I was able to learn a little bit more about those “extenuating circumstances.”

Everything started in the fall of 2011, when the Beef’s former owner, Jeff Sprowls, got caught up in a federal drug investigation. Sprowls, who has not been charged with any crime, attempted to fold the team a short time later, only to have the league step in and take control of the franchise.

The IFL has run the team all season, with a group of the league’s owners overseeing operations. That group put the team on a budget that would be difficult for even the soundest of IFL franchises to manage. 

That, ultimately, is what cost the Omaha Beef its playoff spot. With the team over budget, the “ownership group” decided it was in the best interest of the league to end Omaha’s season.

While I understand that Sprowls forced the league into a difficult situation, it is ridiculous to penalize the players and coaches for something that is completely out of their control. They should be recognized for their efforts on the field, especially given the circumstances.

They’ve earned the right to compete for a championship.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure it matters all that much. Sioux Falls looks untouchable, especially at home, meaning Omaha’s playoff stay would have likely been a short one anyway.

Congratulations, Lehigh Valley.

Programming Note:  The Sioux Falls Storm (14-0) host the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in the opening round of the IFL Playoffs on Saturday, June 23. You can see that game live on Midco Sports Network and Coverage kicks off at 7pm.

Filed Under: Football | MidcoSN General

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Terri Cunningham-Swanson June 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

What a crock. Those young men worked hard all season through a mess that was none of their own doing. GIVE THEM THEIR SHOT! As for the Storm being “untouchable”, I remember hearing the exact same predictions in the regular season last year when the Beef played the Storm. Sioux Falls was undefeated coming into the game, and the Beef were heavy underdogs. David vs Goliath. But I watched those young men dig down and pull out one of the most amazing, exciting, down-to-the-wire upset victories I have EVER seen in any sport at any level! The Beef has made the playoffs every single year since 2000. Those players earned it every time, as they did this year. To cheat them of it shows a complete lack of character by the IFL, who seems to have predetermined the outcome. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. To the Beef players, WE LOVE YOU AND STAND WITH YOU!!! HOLD YOUR HEADS HIGH!!


Jay Elsen June 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for the comment, Terri. I’m with you all the way. I look at like this; if the league decided to run the team instead of allowing it to fold, playoffs should be included. Not a good message to send to players, coaches and fans in your league, and it really looks bad to those on the outside. It’s unfortunate that we will never get to know what might have happened.


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