The new math
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
This season Missouri football will have a different look. Gone is the old three-team district system that decided which teams advanced to the post season. In fact the post season as fans have known it is gone as well.
This year teams in Missouri will play one less regular season game with the 10th week being what is now the first round of the post season.
Gone are the playoffs with teams being eliminated from post season play on the final week of the regular season. Now every team plays nine games with the purpose of earning a seed for a district tournament that starts in week 10.
This system was instituted by the Missouri State High School Activities Association last spring to be used starting this fall for the two-year cycle that begins in 2012.
The old system of district play the final three weeks has been around since the late 1980s. That system, with one team from each district advancing to the playoffs, remained unchanged until 2008 when the top two teams from each district would advance. Those games would begin in week 11 and the champions would be decided by Thanksgiving weekend every year.
There is a mixed feeling among coaches on how this system will work. Some say it gives everyone a chance to be playing in week No. 11 while eliminating the problem of weak districts sending two teams to the playoffs while stronger districts with three or even four playoff worthy teams are held to the same number.
It also gives coaches a chance to build to the final week of the season which could be an advantage for younger teams. It takes pressure off of the final three games and allows each game to be important.
That being said there is still a major unknown to this new system. For younger teams that are learning it could be a bonus.
“It is going to be interesting the first year to see how it works,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “What it does it definitely you have two seasons now. You could say that before but the wins that go into and the points all that stuff it all plays a part but it is extremely wide open at the end. It’s a true tournament fashion. We all know how tournaments work, you get a hot team and you never know who comes out of it.”
This new system has teams in eight-team districts. These districts are for seeding only for the first round of the post season. There are no longer district games pitting two teams from the same district. Teams are no longer required to play anyone in their district during the season. Teams simply schedule nine games of their choosing and their performance in those nine games will be used in a formula to decide how week No. 10 is seeded.
For some that ability to schedule without playing some or all of the district opponents renders any mathematical formula unfair. If team A never plays anyone from their district, wins all of its games even if it is against lower class teams, it could earn a top seed over teams that may have a few losses but play a much tougher schedule.
“I just don’t like the playoff system because nobody gets penalized for playing down,” Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said. “That’s fine with nine games, but play everybody in your district once, get a couple of non-district games and then seed everybody. At least now you can legitimately seed them. You can’t legitimately seed people if you don’t penalize them for playing down.”
“At the same time you just line up and play and have fun. When it gets down to it the best teams at that time of year are going to win. The point is was that if it was to make everyone happy by putting them in the playoffs somebody is still going to be upset when it is all said and done.”
After the seeding the teams will play in week No. 10 with the No. 1 seed playing No. 8, No. 2 versus No. 7, No. 3 versus No. 6 and No. 4 versus No. 5. The higher seeds in each of those games would host week No. 10 games.
After the first round of the district the games would progress through a standard eight-team bracket with the higher seed playing host in each game until a district champion is crowned. After that district champions will continue in the playoffs in the semifinal round in Class 6 and the quarterfinals in class 1-5.
The formula is based on four factors. First a team receives points for its own wins and losses (20 for a win, 10 for a loss, 15 for an overtime loss). Next a team will receive bonus points for playing up a class (10 points CREDIT for each class you play up (i.e., a Class 1 team plays a Class 3 team: 20 points) while playing down a class does not cause any deductions. Third a team will receive points based on the win-loss record of its opponent. Finally the margin of victory or defeat up to 13 points is factored in.
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