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Mailbag: On football's alignment & RPI, softball regionals, and adding boys volleyball

EDITOR'S NOTE: Opinions in this Mailbag do not reflect an official viewpoint of CHSAA.

In this installment of the CHSAANow.com Mailbag, we tackle the questions about football's alignment, football's RPI, softball regionals, adding new sports like boys volleyball, and postseason basketball formats.

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Legend Boulder football generic

(Matt Daniels/mattdanphoto.com)

It looks like this new football alignment is hurting rivalries, and making it so there are a bunch of blowouts. Why was this done? I think it needs to change back to what it was.

What are your thoughts?

— Chris B., Brighton

Oh, a hot topic! I'm guessing you're referring to 5A football's new waterfall alignment.

Yeah, Week 6 did bring us a ton of blowouts. Probably more than there would've been if the alignment hadn't changed. I haven't taken the time to actually measure that out and compare to previous seasons, but from a pure anecdotal perspective, it sure seemed that way.

That said, I will add this: A lot of those complaining about the waterfall alignment also complained about the alignment for 2014-16, and for 2012-14, and for 2010-12 ... and, well, you get the picture.

Listen, these topics you raise are not new. They were talked about by the football committee at their meeting where this was implemented, so everyone knew the possibilities. But, an overwhelming majority of the 5A schools wanted to balance the leagues along with the move to the RPI formula. (It wouldn't have passed if they didn't.) The relatively close proximity of 5A allowed for schools to be placed into an alignment based off of past performance.

The thought there was that if you kept stronger leagues (such as the Centennial) together, they would have an advantage in terms of strength of schedule over weaker leagues (such as the Flatirons League) — and therefore have a better shot at making the postseason field.

I'm almost certain this will be talked about at the football committee meeting this winter, but I really don't know if they will consider adjusting the alignment in the middle of a two-year cycle. That would mean blowing up schedules and starting over for just one year.

In the future, 5A could consider doing something similar to what 4A did: waterfall within geographic regions. That way, the schedules are balanced, but you get to keep some traditional rivalries.

Or, it could move toward the hockey alignment, where you tier the leagues and put teams of similar strength together. That would solve the issue of blowouts, but could possibly skew RPI data.

Ultimately, though, I don't believe the problem is alignment. It's the classification system. We really need to look at moving toward a system that classifies teams not only by enrollment, but by historical and recent success. Enrollment numbers do not tell the whole picture.

Cherry Creek Doherty football

(Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

Just saw the football RPI that came out. Are you serious? This is way off!

— Robert K., Colorado Springs

I'll reiterate what I've told some people in other avenues: This data is from Week 6 of a 10-week season. Be patient.

If people broke down softball's data after six games, or volleyball's, or soccer's, then it wouldn't look quite right.

There have been some absolute overreactions to the football RPI standings released on Saturday. The playoffs don't start today, nor do they start next week.

Let's wait until after Week 10 to pull out our Jump to Conclusions mats.

Denver East Cherry Creek softball

(Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

Why is Denver East in the softball regionals? Denver East was way below Pomona, and they still made it over them. This doesn't seem to make any sense??

— Leslie S., Arvada

Denver East was the automatic qualifier out of the Class 5A Denver Prep League. So, even though the Angels were rated 51st in the final RPI standings in 5A, they qualified for the 32-team postseason.

This also happened when Pine Creek, No. 33 in the RPI, made the field as an AQ out of the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League. (It happened in 4A, too.)

The automatic qualifying spots were listed in the softball bulletin prior to the season.

Because of this, the Nos. 31 and 32 teams in the final 5A RPI standings (Northglenn and Pomona) didn't make the regional field as at-large qualifiers.

Volleyball generic

(Matt Daniels/MattDanPhoto.com)

I'm fine with CHSAA starting a girls wrestling division. My question is, why isn't there a boys volleyball division?

Quite a few states sponsor boys volleyball, men's volleyball has long been an Olympic sport, and I would think there would be significantly more boys interested in high school volleyball than girls interested in high school wrestling.

Moreover, given all the concerns about football, brain trauma and concussions, boys volleyball would provide another option for male athletes and parents who don't want to risk their son's brain health via football participation.

Just wondering ...

— Ken R., Littleton

Boys volleyball has long sought sanctioning from CHSAA, and there has been some recent movement on that front recently.

Last week, a survey went out to all schools which will gauge their interest in hosting a team starting in the spring of 2019. The Centennial League is leading the charge. That is good news for the sport, because many potential sports never get a league to sponsor a bylaw at Legislative Council for an official vote on sanctioning.

The survey results are due by Nov. 1, so we'll know more then.

There is a big hurdle that remains: Even if a school says it wants to add a boys volleyball program, that doesn't mean it actually will.

As things stand in terms of equity under Title IX, CHSAA can likely add another boys sport without adding a girls sport. BUT: Just because CHSAA's equity is in good standing, that doesn't mean the same is true for individual schools.

One major difference is that CHSAA counts spirit as a sport, but many schools do not. That's because there are a number of criteria they need to hit in order to officially list it as a sport, including competing at the CHSAA state championships. Spirit has a huge amount of female participants.

So, even if the survey returns positive results, Title IX equity within schools is a major hurdle for boys volleyball to clear. Plus, there's also the question of whether or not a school could add another sport to its athletic budget.

(Oh, and to be clear: girls wrestling is still in "let's talk about it" stage. Nothing new has happened in terms of its addition.)

I noticed the mention of possibly adding girls wrestling. What ever happened to rugby? I feel like that would be an easy addition with a lot of girls who want to play that sport.

— Luke S., Aurora

There was a lot of movement on this in early 2015, with it even looking likely that a vote on sanctioning would be put in front of the Legislative Council.

Alas, that never came to fruition as the league that was going to sponsor the bylaw pulled out, so the proposal to add girls rugby stalled, even though a survey showed moderate interest from schools in adding the sport.

But, paired with the above question, girls rugby may be a good mate with boys volleyball for schools that may be worried about throwing off their Title IX equity?

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Has the basketball committee settled on regional sites for 2A basketball? Can you update us on how postseason works now for 2A hoops?

— Jan, Alamosa

Regional sites have not been set yet, but there is a survey going out to schools on Wednesday that deals with that very topic.

Regionals will work this way:

  • There are eight regions, each with three teams, for a total of 24 regional qualifiers.
  • Each region will qualify one team for an eight-team state tournament.
  • Districts 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 will come from Eastern part of the state, while Districts 1, 3 and 5 will come from the West.
  • The regionals are set to be played on Thursday (girls), Friday (boys) and Saturday (both), though this could change. (That is part of the survey.)
  • As you may have heard, the state tournaments will now be played at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

For Class 2A basketball, how does the three-region format work? Wouldn't it be easier to have four regions?

— Steve S., South Fork

I believe you may actually be referring to 1A basketball? We explained the 2A process just above, and that features eight regions.

1A, however, does have three regions. Here's how it will work:

  • The districts feeding into each region will change on a year-to-year basis. (It will be laid out in the basketball bulletin.)
  • For 2016-17, Districts 1 and 6 will be in Region 1. Region 2 will consist of Districts 4, 5 and 8. And Region 3 will be Districts 2, 3 and 7.
  • Region 1 will send two qualifiers to the state tournament, while Regions 2 and 3 will each send three. This gives us a total of eight teams to state.
  • District 1 will always be in Region 1, with Districts 6, 7 and 8 rotating in each year. For example, in 2017-18, Region will be consist of District 1 and 8, while District 6 moves to Region 3.

The basketball committee opted to not use four regions because on 22 teams qualify for regionals due to "the immense travel in 1A," according to Bert Borgmann, the CHSAA assistant commissioner in charge of basketball.