The 2017 8-Player Football Playoffs will be conducted over four weeks in two divisions of 16 teams each for the 60-plus teams sponsored by Michigan High School Athletic Association Class D schools.
That much was decided by the MHSAA Representative Council on March 24.
There are five questions (at least) that the Council still must answer:
How should teams qualify? Since the first 8-player tournament in 2011, teams have qualified by playoff point averages – the 16 highest qualified for the tournament. Should this be changed to a system of automatic qualifiers on the basis of wins, plus additional qualifiers on the basis of playoff points to complete the field – like the 11-player tournament operates?
When should divisions be determined? Should it be in late March when division breaks for other “equal divisions” tournaments are set? Or should divisions be determined nearer the start of the season – say, September 1 – so all late additions, deletions, and cooperative program changes can be factored in before the two divisions, based on enrollment, are determined?
Where will the championship games be played? Should the Council designate a doubleheader at the Superior Dome in Marquette so the MHSAA can focus all its resources on one climate-controlled facility? Or should two sites be designated now (perhaps the Superior Dome in Marquette and Legacy Field in Greenville), and the specific games and times assigned as the playoffs progress in an attempt to reduce travel times for teams and spectators?
Should the maximum enrollment for the 8-player tournament be the moving target of the Class D maximum (203 in 2017) or a fixed number – for example, 215, the Class D maximum in 2011 when the 8-player tournament began? This decision could be deferred to the Council’s meeting in December.
Should there be a “grace period” for schools that are eligible for the 8-player tournament one year but have enrollments that exceed the 8-player limit the next year – for example, eligible only the following year and only if the enrollment does not exceed the 8-player enrollment limit by more than 12 students? This decision could also be delayed to the December meeting of the Council.
As our excitement builds for the expanded 8-player tournament, so do the questions.