Playoff Proposal Pauses
Playoff Proposal Pauses
Blog: From the Director, Football
Posted Friday, May 10, 2013

During the MHSAA Football Finals at Ford Field last November, I was approached by representatives of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association with a request to have the MHSAA’s computing capabilities crunch the numbers for a concept that a couple of the coaches association’s members had for revising the MHSAA Football Playoff point system.

Within a few weeks the MHSAA hosted a meeting that brought together the coaches who introduced the concept with our numbers crunchers; and within a few days our staff had outlined the principles, revised the point system and retrofitted it to show how the system would have affected the 2012 playoffs.

There was initial excitement that we might be onto something, but that brief infatuation began to wane as we dug deeper and discussed the plan more widely.

The key ingredients of the proposal are (1) that a school would gain playoff points for every game its opponent wins, whether or not that school defeated that opponent, and (2) that the number of automatic qualifiers would be reduced in favor of a larger group of additional qualifiers based on a revised playoff points system that would favor schools which schedule larger and more successful opponents.

In spite of our staff’s helpfulness in bringing this proposal forward, we’ve lost optimism that it will accomplish what is hoped.  Rather than making regular-season scheduling easier, it could make it harder as the “six-wins-and-in” mindset is replaced by the even worse “seven-wins-and-in” mindset.  And any system that ignores a minimum number of wins and relies entirely on playoff points is even less fair than the current system to schools in the less densely populated areas of Michigan.

From our retrofitting of the proposed concept to the 2012 season, we know that teams with 6-3 records would be displaced in the playoffs by teams with 4-5 records, which is certain to go down badly and be difficult to explain to those communities.  The revised point system would make it even more difficult than the current system for schools in less populated areas to find opponents of the size and strength to generate high playoff point averages without these schools driving 100, 200, 300 or more miles, one way, several times each season.  For individual schools and some entire leagues, this will make football scheduling tougher, not easier.  It is likely to add stress to those league affiliations, and to football scheduling generally.

In any event, there is no need to rush to 2013 or 2014 a proposal that’s called “Enhanced Strength of Schedule System” because schedules are 99 percent set for 2013 and nearly so for 2014.  Even if adopted today, few schedules would be impacted before 2015.  If a change like this one is to be implemented, schools must have ample notice, and our technology department must have enough time to program the new point system and then test it through an entire season.

The Representative Council acted wisely on May 6 when it paused the progress of this proposal.  Some elements of it may be discussed at the MHSAA’s scheduled meetings this summer and fall. 


Friday, May 10, 2013 2:57 PM
Gladwin has worked very hard to restore their football program back to the status it held for years. Kids could see the tangible goal of 6 wins to make the play-offs.
From our area, somewhat in the geographic middle of the LP, the new proposal would be devastating. Because of the lack of "powerhouses", it would be very difficult to find competition that would allow us to score "points". I could not ever imagine Gladwin making the play-offs again, even with an exceptional season. I understand the desires of those strong teams who are forced, by location, to play bigger schools that they cannot beat. However, I think that such a change would change most our our area of the state, and be even worse for the schools north of us.
# Adam
Saturday, May 11, 2013 7:13 PM
I continue to think that there's only one solution: everybody makes the playoffs in football. At some point, the MHSAA, MHSFCA, MIAAA, and other constituents need to admit that there's a "have your cake and eat it too" problem. Nobody wants to tell a 6-3 team that they aren't good enough to go to the playoffs, but nobody wants to force a team to drive 300 miles one way several times a season to find those 6 wins either.

There's a way to do it. Add 2 more weeks to the playoffs, and go from 8 divisions down to 5. Look at how many problems it crosses off. Everybody makes the playoffs, so the anxiety about finding 6 wins is gone, putting less pressure on teams to be road warriors in the regular season looking for 6 wins. Fewer divisions means everybody travels less once the playoffs start. Yes, it means that you could have some uncompetitive games in the first round of the playoffs. Many of those will be regular season rematches anyway, because the like-sized schools that would be grouped together into a district are likely to be in the same conference during the regular season. In other words: not the end of the world to have a couple of playoff blowouts so long as the schools are similar in size, because if they're similar in size, they could easily be playing a league game during the regular season anyway.
# Coach K
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:49 PM
I like Adam's idea. Everybody's in. God what a relief that would be for me as a coach. Play 8 regular season games. Plus 1 with first round of playoffs. The only foreseeable problem is... The playoffs are loooong. It would be basically last week in October till 1st week December? What would you name them? Round 1, Pre-District, Districts, District Final, Regional, Regional Final, State Championship?
# Jody
Monday, October 28, 2013 7:09 PM
I like the idea of all schools playoff. It works well in basketball and yes i know they are able to play more than one game a week in basketball but it would make it fair to every school in the state if they had their shot at playoff glory. The good teams will win the majority of the time anyway and it would give the kids a huge boost to their morale. I think the rounds would be: pre districts, district finals, regional semi finals, regional finals, quarter finals, semi finals and finals.

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