AURORA — The football committee met on Tuesday to discuss playoff format and alignment ahead of the 2016-18 two-year cycle.
The majority of the meeting was a general top-level discussion about ideas and proposals. In the months to come, the committee will take those and drill down into the details.
Tuesday's meeting was the second six-hour meeting the committee has held on playoff formats and alignment since its annual December meeting. The first was in February.
The group is looking at alignment in an entirely different way this cycle. They want, by and large, the schools to take it over and put themselves in leagues, much as they do in other sports, such as basketball.
In recent years, the football committee has hammered out alignment on its own while taking input from the membership.
"We're trying to find more ways to create more shared decision-making," said Mike Krueger, who chairs the football committee.
The committee is also approaching league structure from a top-down approach. That is, they want to figure out playoff formats first, and then figure out the way alignment will best suit those formats.
"They need to know: This is how we qualify, now let's decide how to format our conferences," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Harry Waterman, who administers football.
"Whatever we decide," said Krueger, the district athletic director of Aurora Public Schools, "it's going to be what's best for kids across the state in general."
These were the main topics of the day:
- The committee wants to even out every playoff field to 16 teams. Currently, 6-man has an 8-team field, and 5A has a 32-team field, while 8-man, 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A all have 16 teams make the playoffs. However, a possibility remains that 5A would be cut from 32 to 24, instead of 32 to 16.
- They also want to move to using a modified RPI to replace the Wild Card points system to determine a team's relative strength. The modified RPI would take the following factors into account: a team's winning percentage, their opponents' winning percentage, their opponents' opponents' winning percentage, and a modifier based upon the classification of the opponent.
- The group will give the current alignment to member schools for them to adjust and tweak as they see fit.
- Each member of the committee will continue to meet with the membership around the state to gather input on postseason format and alignment.
"When we walk into our meeting in December," Krueger said, "we're going to have a pretty dang good idea of what our playoff formats and alignment are going to look like."
Additionally, the following ideas were discussed:
- The committee wants to explore bringing all seven championship games to one central location. Obviously, many logistics and hurdles would be in the way of this even becoming a possibility, but the committee decided to explore it before their next meeting this summer.
- They want to look at bringing the 8-man playoff format to all classes. 8-man puts all league champions in the postseason field, then has a seeding committee pick qualifiers from thereon using a staggered method of considering each league's No. 2 teams, No. 3s, No. 4s and so on.
Committee doesn't support 6A proposal
There was one very specific outcome on Tuesday: The group decided to not support the proposal from the Union Pacific League which seeks to add a Class 6A. That proposal is headed to the Legislative Council on Thursday.
After a lengthy discussion, they came to the conclusion that the concept was good, but they saw too many holes in it. They would like to look at adding 6A at some point, but not right now, and want time to develop a polished plan.
Some committee members were told by schools that the proposal could force them to cancel their junior varsity programs, or the suspend their programs entirely.
Additionally, because the group has so many meetings and spends countless hours working on alignment, they felt it didn't make sense to bypass the entire process, which is what the proposal did.
"It has some good ideas," Krueger said to the group, "but there's a lot of discussion that needs to take place. The unintended consequences and ramifications of the proposal could be far-reaching, and we need time to explore them. That is why you have a committee."
Waterman added, "For the greater good of the whole state, we're not ready for this right now. I do think it's something we can look at in the future, but now's not the time."