There was a time when even undefeated teams might not qualify for the MHSAA Football Playoffs. Eventually, the playoffs were expanded to eight divisions, each of 32 teams, assuring any team which could manage six wins was an automatic qualifier, and also that many teams with only five wins would qualify (20 five-win teams in 2011).
It was anticipated that this would allow good teams to schedule like-size, nearby opponents without fear of a loss or two. But some observers now complain that mediocre teams won’t schedule certain nearby opponents because they fear a fourth loss that could keep them from certain postseason play. Long-standing league affiliations are being stressed by this mindset.
There are very smart, very sincere people who want the MHSAA to once again expand the playoffs to, they hope, eliminate these problems; but the MHSAA has already done its part to accommodate football’s “uniqueness.” For example. . .
- It is only in football that MHSAA tournaments have more than four classes and divisions. In football there are now eight divisions for the 11-player game, plus one division for the 8-player game.
- It is only in football that MHSAA tournaments are longer than three weeks. In football, it takes five weeks to crown champions in those eight divisions for the 11-player game.
- It is only in football where first-round tournament matchups can result in round-trip travel of 600, 700, 800 or more miles.
Proposals that would create even more extravagance – more 11-player divisions, more weeks of playoffs and more long trips – all because schools are reluctant to schedule nearby opponents during the regular season – are all proposals that should be sacked.