AURORA — A group of administrators representing schools with large enrollments from around the state met on Thursday to discuss future plans for the football playoffs, including the potential creation of a Class 6A.
A major topic of discussion was the fact that in its current state, Class 5A football is dominated by a small group of teams. Since 2014, a total of 12 teams have made the quarterfinals. Over the course of those five seasons, four programs have made the quarterfinals all five years. Two more have reached the quarterfinals four of the five seasons, and two others have gone three times in five seasons.
This means that eight programs account for 85 percent of the possible quarterfinal berths in 5A over the past five seasons.
By comparison, 4A has only had one team go to the quarterfinals each of the past five seasons. No other team went more than three times.
The committee looked at multiple proposals which sought to address the current inequity in 5A football.
One idea, which has been discussed by CHSAA staff, some members of the football committee, and several interested groups for more than 18 months now, takes aim at the specific issue facing 5A. It would create an eight-team 6A playoff bracket.
Here are the specifics of the idea:
- The teams currently classified as 5A would continue to play against one another in the regular season.
- At the end of the regular season, the teams ranked Nos. 1-8 in 5A would become the 6A bracket, and play out their championship.
- The teams ranked Nos. 9-24 in 5A would become a 16-team 5A bracket, and play out their championship.
- These championship games would be played on the same weekend as the 3A and 4A title games.
- The exact selection criteria is a detail which needs to be worked out, but one possibility is the new Composite Ranking System that the football committee recommended for seeding during its meeting last week. That system uses four data sources: RPI, MaxPreps rankings, Packard rankings and a coaches poll.
The idea wouldn't be much of an adjustment from the current setup of the 5A playoffs, which is a 24-team bracket with the top eight seeds receiving first-round byes. This season — the first year of that format — each of the top eight seeds advanced to the quarterfinals.
This system would not require the creation of a separate classification during the regular season, and allows for flexibility among the 6A group depending on who has a strong program that season. League alignment would not need any major adjustments to make it work.
This idea will continue to be discussed among the membership, and the football committee, over the next few months. A recommendation for the future classification system could come prior to the Legislative Council meeting in April.
Colorado had 6A football for a few years in the early 1990s, but that was setup as a traditional classification, meaning they were separated for the regular season.