IHSA may reconfigure football playoff format
By Eric Becker
CARLINVILLE (June 28, 2018) – Over the years, the Illinois High School Association has made drastic changes to its postseason for many of its sports.
The biggest had to be going from two classes to four classes for many of the team sports, including basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball.
One of very few not have been touched in recent years has been high school football. That could change.
During an April meeting of the IHSA football advisory committee meeting, it was discussed about changing how playoff football teams are determined.
It would essentially eliminate conference football and lead to the creation of districts around the state.
Schools would be placed in districts based on enrollment and geography. It would remain the same for two years, and could change after that based on changing enrollments.
Each class would have eight districts, and district standings would determine which teams qualify for the postseason. Each district would have eight or nine schools for football.
The top four teams in each district would qualify for a 32-team bracket in each class. The schedule would still contain nine-regular season games, and schools would have the flexibility to schedule its non-district game or games.
The proposed IHSA district setup wouldn’t have teams facing each other in their own district until at least the third round of the playoffs.
For me, it’s just about getting the athletic directors more things to do, as if they needed more to worry about.
I worked in Nebraska and they had a district system similar to that, except it was based on points.
I recall in 2001, Blair, Neb. went 6-3 and missed the playoffs because it didn’t have enough points. In 2002, the Blair team went 5-4 and made the playoffs.
The IHSA football advisory committee felt the district format would be the best remedy to the conference realignment issue. It will develop a formal proposal that details the district format and share it with member schools for consideration during the IHSA by-law amendment process in November.
I really don’t know what to think. Carlinville and other members of the South Central Conference would be playing other schools and perhaps some of the same schools, but in a different way.
Non-district games wouldn’t count toward making the playoffs or not making the playoffs, a team simply must finish in the top four of the district.
In Nebraska, I had to take long road trips to South Sioux City and Falls City for what was termed a district game, because those are the games that mattered. Otherwise, the Blair Bears wouldn’t have any need to play those schools. And if you’ve ever been to Falls City, whoa. Not missing much.
I don’t think there’s a problem with the current way the playoff system is formulated, but sometimes change can be good.
It would be interesting to see which teams Carlinville would be matched up with from a district perspective. I wouldn’t want to be the person in charge of trying to configure all of that paperwork. That would be a headache waiting to happen.
We’ll see what happens, although I would be just as happy to see things stay the same than I would any changes. It’s not my call – it’s just how I perceive it at the current time.