Football Scheduling
Blog: From the Director
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009

Increasing numbers of schools are having increasing difficulties completing varsity football schedules, citing the unwillingness of schools with similar enrollments within reasonable travel distances to agree to games when they fear losing those games and jeopardizing chances to qualify for the MHSAA Football Playoffs.

At the same time, increasing numbers of administrators of these and other schools are expressing increasing concerns for under-funding of both public and private education, and they are searching for ways to reduce travel costs for extracurricular events.

Some observers suggest that once again doubling the number of teams qualifying for the Football Playoffs would alleviate scheduling problems.  In fact, each previous expansion over the long history of the playoffs has had the opposite effect, resulting in more schools with scheduling problems.  While expansion of the playoffs might ease scheduling difficulties in some cases, there is greater likelihood that another expansion of the playoffs would not only be unhealthy for many players, but also would lead to more rather than less travel and expense for many schools.

A more certain approach to addressing regular-season scheduling problems and travel costs would be for the MHSAA to take a path never taken by it before to implement a statewide two-year home and away schedule for all schools which sponsor varsity football.

Proceeding in this direction would face significant league and local obstacles and require not just a scheduling plan, but also a clear mandate from member schools following a series of meetings and mailings to gather input and discuss the plan.

Providing this varsity football scheduling service to schools would be a huge headache and a thankless task for the MHSAA.  But it’s not the small problems for which a state high school association is needed.  It’s for the big problems.  And from listening to administrators in many corners of this state, there is no problem any bigger for which the MHSAA might have the authority and ability to help.

Comments

# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:39 PM
The solution isn't adding one week to the playoffs; it's adding 2 weeks. That way, everybody makes the playoffs. Move the State Finals back 1 week (to the old Girls Basketball weekend) and take 1 week out of the regular season to be the 1st round of the playoffs (if teams are having a hard time filling out a schedule, it won't be much of a loss anyway, and at any rate, everybody qualifies). If everybody makes the playoffs, scheduling becomes much more flexible, because schools don't need to obsess over those 3 losses.

Plus, you could reduce the number of Divisions from 8 to as few as 5, which would also SUBSTANTIALLY reduce travel in the playoffs.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:40 PM
I've been a coach at Mendon High School in 3 coaching positions for 19 years. It has become very difficult for Mendon to fill out a varsity schedule over the past 5 years. Our 2009 schedule has openings for weeks 3,5,7, and 9. Many schools have been contacted in our area. We have a total of 240 students 9-12. We have contacted schools such as Edwardsburg (800 enrollment) they have turned us down, we contacted Berrien Springs (700 enrollment) they said no, they couldnt compete with our program. This is crazy considering that in 2009 Berrien Springs made the regional finals in Division 5, while Mendon was in Division 7. The only schools that have shown interest in playing us are Muskegan Catholic Central located 2.5 hours away, and Linden located 3 hours away and with an enrollment of over 800. Why not eliminate week 9 in the regular season and up the playoff qualifiers to 512 leaving only 100 or so schools that would have between 0 and 3 wins. Mendon has a great football tradition but this system is creating many problems across the state. Mendon belongs in the SJV conference and we have had 3 schools leave our league in the past 13 years because they couldnt win enough in football, this system basically destroyed a proud, tough conference. Now were told that the only way to fill our schedule is to look for games outside the state, we have a school south of Toledo that might be interested, that should be great on our budget. By the way, did I mention that our JV football team had only 6 games filled because of the damage inflicted by this system.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:40 PM
I am all for helping those schools that have trouble filling a schedule. Been there and done that. My real concern is if we expand the playoffs to include teams with few or no wins and send them against teams with powerful programs, we risk not only serious injury, but also extreme scores, teams refusing to play an extra game and fooling ourselves that because other sports have everyone in then football needs to do the same. In basketball we don't have the serious risk of health in a big mismatch that we would in football. I see the advent of 8 man football as a potential schedule assist. Maybe the simple MHSAA guideline would to mandate leagues need to be of a certain size (say 10 or 12) when there are schools sitting on the outside looking in. Our KVA is a 10 team league and it is comforting to know I have a full football schedule each season. I would however be in favor of us expanding and takjing in a Bronson or Centreville from the St. Joe Valley and make it a 2 division league. I also feel we need to explore new ideas to increase income and interest. The KVA will partner with WMU next August and play all our 5 opening dates at Waldo Stadium. We have corporate sponsorship of nearly $15,000 to cover our WMU expenses and plan to provide 2 days of great experience for our teams, fans, staff, bands, cheer teams, alumni and the general public. The plan allows us to have teams like Constantine and Maple Valley which are the longest drives, to meet in the middle, saving the fans and schools the long trip each fall. The corporate sponsorship of National City also allows us to realize some potential extra income from the KVA CLASSIC. Thanks for asking for opinions. PS - who do I contact about the possibility of having the MHSAA involved in telecasting our FB Classic?
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:41 PM
It is time for the MHSAA, to make the conferences. That is the plan in Wisconsin, I no the travel could be greater, but put 8 teams together, and play 7 games, and 1 rival game.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:42 PM
I agree with John.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 9:43 PM
I believe that the current playoff system is to blame for the trouble with scheduling. I also believe that you will see within the next 10 years the dissolvement of the majority of conferences in the state of Michigan.

I think they could do 1 of 2 things.
1. They could mix the new system with the old. Go back to the points instead of 6 wins, which rewards teams that play difficult schedules. However have 32 teams from each division instead of 16 like it was before.

or.

2. Break the state up into districts and require each team to play everyone in the district and depending on the number of districts the first, second and possibly third and fourth place teams qualify for playoffs.

Either one of these ideas would allievate schools dropping out of conferences and opting out of schedules in order to try to get to six wins and make the playoffs.

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