Football committee recommends use of different percentages in RPI formula

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

AURORA — The football committee has recommended a change to a 37.5/37.5/25 RPI formula as part of postseason qualification.

The recommendation, made Wednesday during the committee's annual meeting at the CHSAA office, would be implemented with the 2017 season if it is approved by the Legislative Council in January.

It would mean a move away from the standard formula used during the 2016 season which took the following into account: 25 percent of a team's winning percentage (WP), 50 percent of a team's opponents' winning percentage (OWP), and 25 percent of the winning percentage of the opponents of a team's opponents (OOWP).

The recommendation is to move to:

RPI = (0.375 x WP) + (0.375 x OWP) + (0.25 x OOWP)

The RPI is used to capture the 16-team brackets in all classifications, with the possible exception of any league champions outside the top-16. League champions automatically qualify for the postseason.

The topic of RPI was a big one from the start of the meeting.

"The RPI system is new, and we knew there would be challenges. There are," CHSAA assistant commissioner Harry Waterman told the committee. "It doesn't matter what the system is, because that would be true under any system.

"We don't believe that the system is broken," he added. "However, we do have an opportunity to make changes that accomplishes some of our goals."

Both Waterman and Mike Krueger, the committee chair who is the district athletic director at Aurora Public Schools, stressed that any possible decision should not swing too far back in the other direction.

"The first thing we need to think about is where we came from," Krueger said, noting the former Wild Card points system used for playoff qualification that "was very broken."

As the meeting wore on, each classification voiced displeasure with the current percentages in place for football's RPI. A common thread among the feedback was a desire to increase the weight of a team's own winning percentage within the formula.

The conversation quickly turned to which percentages should be considered, and the discussion centered on three options:

  • Evenly split at (1/3 x WP) + (1/3 x OWP) + (1/3 x OOWP)
  • 35/35/30
  • 37.5/37.5/25

After about an hour, the committee voted 10-3 to make the change to the 37.5/37.5/25 formula.

Discussion of 5A waterfall alignment

The 5A class was the center of much discussion during the meeting, and a lot of that was because "5A underwent some pretty big changes in one fell swoop," as noted by Horizon athletic director Eric Gustafson, a 5A rep.

Prior to 2016, the class went from a 32-team to 16-team playoff bracket, started using the RPI, and also changed to a new waterfall alignment, which has been met with mixed opinions.

"The thing I heard in 5A was (the waterfall alignment) really highlighted the disparity in 5A football," Krueger said, "and I sit here, as the chair of this committee, extremely concerned about the schools on the lower end of 5A that may or may not be able to retain their programs because they haven't been able to compete at the highest level."

As such, the committee will explore options for alignment over the course of the next year.

"This was an idea that came from the membership, a lot of coaches primarily," Krueger said of the waterfall. "We wanted equal leagues. This committee did that. Now that we have this system, we have to look at, possibly, in a year from now changing some things around to protect some of those programs."

All that said, the alignment will not change for 2017. The committee is considering options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Notables:

  • 6-man football talked about changing its mercy rule from 45 points to the 40 points used by every other classification, but no vote was called, and so it will stay at 45.
  • 6-man also voiced concern that Hi-Plains, the eventual champion in the classification, drew a number of players from Flagler without an official co-op being filed. Under state law, players are allowed to play for a team in their district of residence or district of attendance if their own school doesn't field a team. Flagler dropped its team just prior to the season. "It's on our radar," Waterman said.
  • 3A discussed the fact that its championship game was hosted by a home team, and threw out the possibility of returning it to a neutral site, or removing the 5,000-seat mandate for a site to serve as a host. The 3A game has previously been at a neutral site, at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, but was moved to home sites in an effort to increase attendance.
  • The football officials association gave an update, and said that the 40-second play clock experimental rule "has improved the game experience" and has been an overall positive addition. Assuming the NFHS continues to approve, the rule experiment should continue.