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  • Football Playoff Expansion

    First off, congrats to Coldwater and Ft. Recovery for winning the titles and congrats to Marion Local on a great season. You all have shown that the MAC is a force in the state of Ohio. You guys put in the time and the work to make it all worth it and I wish you all success in future years, not only for the schools but the returning players and the players that suited up for the last time. You guys all deserved to be there.

    My question is about expanding the playoffs even further. Recently, the OHSAA went from 6 divisions to 7 divisions. This added more games, more teams, and more excitement. As we all know, having three teams be able to represent our conference is no easy feat and that we should all be proud of our communities. But why do we limit how many teams get into the playoff? Why is it that only the top 8 teams from each region are allowed to play in the playoff? All of the other sports allow all teams a playoff berth. Why does it seem football has to be more exclusive?

    Note: I am not trying to bash on anyone or take away from anything anyone has accomplished. I am simply trying to figure out the answer to a question and would not mind seeing a great conversation about this topic. And I apologize to the MODs if I put this in the wrong section but I felt this is sports related and it really could have been posted in either the sports thread or the community thread.

  • #2
    Unlike other high school sports, the rationale for the football playoffs is that is should be seen as a reward for excellence in the regular season.

    A 15 game schedule is three more games that most colleges play (except for those in conference championship games and bowl games). It is also one game less than the NFL regular season.

    I think the current playoff of three regional games and two state games is plenty enough football for 15-18 year old boys. Football is simply too physically brutal on teenagers and adding more games would only increase the chances for serious injuries to depleted bodies.
    An alternative is to increase the number of divisions so more teams get in that way. My only concern there is that it further waters down the competition and will allow more teams with 6-4, 5-5 or even 4-6 records into the playoffs. Remember: a reward for excellence in the regular season.

    One other problem with this would be where to play the state finals. Ohio Stadium is taxed enough with hosting 7 games in 3 days. Even Canton/Massillon would have a hard time supporting 7+ games in 3 days.
    I also am concerned about making the season any longer. Check out this article for more insight on that issue:

    Just my humble opinion


    • #3
      C-Towner, I appreciate the info and the great article. I would agree that there should be an award for excellence during the regular season. My question to that is why is that only the case for football? Why isn't it that way for other sports?

      The schedule could be modified to accommodate the extra playoff berths. For example, what if we reduced the regular season by a game and add to the playoff? It would equal the same number of games would it not? If I understand correctly, and I may be wrong, aren't there 16 teams to a region? That equals 8 games instead of the current 4 that we play when we have 8 teams in.

      The record of the team getting a playoff berth should not matter. It doesn't matter what your record is at the end of a basketball season, so why does it matter for football?

      I do agree with the concerns on logistics of trying to host that many games. I would be very interested to see more information and figures on all of that.

      I am like most from this area and I enjoy football very much. I am not trying to advocate for additional games just to have additional games or put anyone at further risk of injury. I am concerned about player safety as much as the next person. While the game is dangerous, there are some great measures being taken currently by health professionals, especially at the professional level, that are trying to improve the safety of the players. I am not saying that the current system is terrible or that it fails. I'm just speculating on what it could be. How could it be different? We have all seen that after two regular seasons of having the CFB that 4 teams is good, but more is better. Understandably, at the college ranks they are concerned more on the money making aspects, but couldn't the same argument be applied here? A few is good, but more is better.


      • #4
        I checked d3 region 10, and they had 27 teams in that region...but I know there was a plan to have an all inclusive tournament a few years ago, but maybe there wasn't enough support to do it. . I know Indiana has an all-inclusive tournament, and I like their format. They play like 8 regular season games, then everyone goes to the playoffs. If your a bad team, you lose in the 1st playoff game. I think you could reward the better teams with a first round tourney bye, and the higher seeds would get to host the first two rounds. Indiana doesn't play neutral site games like Ohio, and I don't know how they really decide who gets to host the games in their tourney...

        Ohio has more schools than Indiana, so it would take more playoff games to get a state champion in the different divisions. I don't know what Ohio will do, but the thing that needs to change is the scrimmage format in Ohio. Having 3 scrimmages are way too many. Those scrimmages don't even count toward the 15 games that some schools could play with regular season, and playoff.

        I agree with C-towner, 15 games are more than enough for high school athletes. you don't want to go any more than that.


        • #5
          I realize my math is off in what I previously said about the number of teams in a region, but regardless of the actual numbers, I think this is still a topic of discussion. I am not saying I have the answer to it or that I know how to fix it. I just want to see the thoughts of others. I would be interested in taking a closer look at Indiana's structure and see how they accomplish this. A goal that I was trying to see with this is the difficulty of finding non-league opponents to play during the regular season. Why does Coldwater or Marion Local have to go out of state to find an opponent to fill a blank in their schedule? Doesn't this have to do with the computer points and not losing the points to make it into the playoff? At lease a little part of it? With an all inclusive playoff format, the computer points would not determine if you make it to the playoffs or not. It would be used just for seeding purposes. This would allow us to see our conference take on more local teams. I know I would enjoy seeing a Marion Local or Coldwater take on Wapak or Celina. It would be great for the surrounding area and wouldn't require the same amount of travel costs it does to go play out of state.


          • #6
            Fuzzy, You ask about why teams sometimes have to go out of state to get an opponent. It is largely about computer points. Good teams want good opponents in higher divisions so they can get the points with a win and a good read on how good their team really is. Conversely not so good teams do want to play the better teams because there is no benefit to them. This reduces the number of likely opponents for the good teams and they have to cast a wider net, hence looking out of state.

            You are going to need a points system even if you utilize an 'everybody in' format. You need some way of seeding teams.

            I looked at D5 which has 106 schools. A standard tournament bracket needs 64, 96 or 128 teams. With just 106 you would need to reduce the field by 10 teams to make the brackets work. (so who doesn't get to play) Or you would have to give 10 teams a bye week which I don't think any coach would really like to see because it breaks a rhythm that coaches rely on to keep their boys fit and focused.

            But let say you go with a 96 team field, that translates to an 8 week playoff. You would have to reduce the regular season to 7 games. That means that teams that loose in week 8 only get to play 8 games. Is that a positive outcome? I think Indiana teams play regular season games after being eliminated from the playoffs but that must be a scheduling nightmare for athletic directors. "Got 2 more games to play - who is available - where should the game be played - what about scouting reports on opponents to help a team prepare". The questions are numerous. And besides do we really want to model the finest high school football system in the country after Indiana???

            Another thing to consider is the cost of running a football operation. Football is the most expensive sport to run. It does yield a good profit; enough to support most of the other athletic programs in a school, but the returns diminish as the season progresses and fans lose interest, the weather gets bad and fans don't want to travel a long distance to see their low seeded team kick get their teeth kicked in by a high seed team. Most schools around here travel well. Big city schools typically don't.

            Again, just my humble opinion


            • #7
              Congrats to all area teams.. Yes I witnessed these games.. including D-3, D-1..skipped D-2 and 4..
              I say keep it were it is at.

              What I would propose is a basketball decrease.. eliminate is played until district seating.. bad teams don't get in..


              • #8
                I understand the fact that football and basketball are the two money making sports within an educational institution, high school or college. Without these two the others would struggle to get funding. I will leave the financial issues and fan travel out of the question right now because that is another topic for another day, and a topic I have strong feelings about too. I would also like to have a conversation about that topic, but that involves more than what I wanted this discussion to contain right now.

                Now I am coming at this topic another way. I understand that you have put out the numbers and logistics in a clearer way than what I was able to do. Thank you. But I still am left wondering why we have 7 divisions for football but only 4 for basketball. And with that, basketball is still all inclusive and football is not. We offer more state titles for football than we do basketball, but only a few teams have the opportunity to compete for the title in football while in basketball everyone essentially has a shot regardless of record. While I am not aware of a basketball team having a terrible regular season record winning the state finals, it is still a possibility. What's not to say that, for example New Bremen, who has not won a varsity game yet this year and may only win a few games, will get on a hot streak during the playoffs? Is it likely? No. But it is still possible. Why can't the same be done for football?


                • #9
                  Indiana doesn't play regular season games after they are eliminated from the tournament. Once they are beat in tournament, they get ready for the winter sports. I think the problem you will have arguing that basketball should be decreased is that basketball isnt' near as physical as football, and Ohio plays fewer games than many of the states surrounding Ohio...I doubt you will talk athletic directors in Ohio to take less game and tournament revenue to accommodate football (especially when many schools don't have football).


                  • #10
                    Year Divisions Regions Qualifiers #Teams
                    1972 3 4 1 12
                    1980 5 4 2 40
                    1985 5 4 4 80
                    1994 6 4 4 96
                    1999 6 4 8 192
                    2013 7 4 8 224*

                    *Division 1 allows 16 teams per it's 2 regions

                    Currently: 224 schools make the football playoffs. There are 715 schools in Ohio that play football. That's a 31% qualification rate. From that angle it does seem low. But consider this...
                    The reason for expanding from 3 divisions to 6 over the years was to address your primary concern that more teams get a chance to participate in playoff football.
                    The jump in 2013 was predicated on an issue of competative balance and the biggest schools (who generate the most revenue) wanting more teams to get in. So D1 was reduced in number to just 72 teams across two regions with 32 teams qualifying for the playoffs. The remaining schools were equally divided among divisions 2-7 with 32 in each division qualifying.
                    So, over the years the OHSAA has enlarged the playoffs so more teams can participate.

                    You are asking "why not everybody?". My question to you is beyond not being like every other sport "Why everybody?".
                    I agree from a fan standpoint that more is better. But the Principles and ADs are not there yet because they are not currently pushing the "all in" idea. I am sure they agree with some of the reasons I stated as that is what a certain AD in our area tells me.


                    • #11
                      I really appreciate the information. I had debated posted this topic for a while and have continued to have conversations about this outside of this forum with others I know. This last week has probably been the most active and informative for me on this topic. Originally, yes, my idea was an all-inclusive playoff format. I thought that it is done for other sports so why not football. It just made sense to me. Now I am more along the lines of why aren't the other sports like football? Why are all the other sports all-inclusive but football makes you qualify?

                      I do think that something can and should be done so that we can see more great local action, ie Marion Local vs St Marys. I would see that as a great matchup and a great turnout for the game. I thought that maybe by making the playoff format different we could see more of these matchups. My opinion is that would be better than seeing Marion Local bring in a small team from West Virginia just to beat the snot out of them to fill a spot on the schedule.