It’s crunch time, folks.
Two weeks left in high school football’s regular season and teams are scrambling to figure out what needs to happen to make the playoffs.
I’m pulling out what’s left of my hair to figure out what’s happening now. If the playoffs began today, a 4-4 team would not only be in the playoffs but would be hosting a game in Division I, while an 8-0 state-ranked team would be sitting at home in Division V. The teams to which I am referring are Cincinnati-power Moeller and Greene County’s own Greeneview.
How can this happen, you ask?
It’s all because of schedule strength and it’s time for the Ohio High School Athletic Association to take a mulligan on the antiquated computer ratings system.
First a quick refresher.
Every time a team wins, it receives points. More points are awarded for beating bigger schools (a Division-I win is worth 6.5 points, a D-II win is 6 points, etc.). Those are level one points.
Then every time a defeated opponent wins, a team receives points. Those are level two points. For example, when Greeneview beat Mechanicsburg, it received points for the win. Then with very time Mechanicsburg has won the rest of the season, Greeneview also receives level two points.
The points are calculated to determine playoff teams — the top eight teams in each region advances. It works something like this: Points are added up, multiplied by Pi, divided by the number of games played, then the coach’s shoe size is subtracted and that final number is divided by Thursday.
OK, that’s not really the process. But for the sake of my argument, it doesn’t matter.
Does a team that is hovering .500 belong in the playoffs — in any division — while an undefeated or maybe even a one-loss team sits at home? As an FYI, there are only two undefeated teams ahead of Greeneview, which sits ninth in Division V Region 20.
The Rams are being punished for being in the Ohio Heritage Conference which, well, isn’t exactly football friendly. Moeller, which is in the Greater Catholic League and has just three league games, can pick and choose seven games from teams around the state and region (it played three teams from Kentucky) hoping to win a couple and bulk up on those level 2 points, which it did. The Crusaders beat Scott County from Kentucky, which is 7-2, and Cleveland-power St. Ignatius, which is 7-1. It also beat a pair of horrible teams in 2-6 Hamilton and 3-6 Lafayette (Kentucky).
The Rams have bulldozed their way through a schedule that has just one-winning team, but it’s not their fault that two Ohio Heritage Conference teams with solid records are not on Greeneview’s schedule this season. West Liberty-Salem is 7-1; newcomer West Jefferson is 7-0, but neither is on the slate for 2017.
But whether they are on there or not, 8-0 is still 8-0.
It happens every year.
In the Cleveland region last season, St. Edward was the No. 2 seed at 7-2, while a pair of 9-1 teams were seeded three and four.
And here’s a real kick in the slats: Upper Arlington went 8-2 in one of the D-I Columbus regions and MISSED THE PLAYOFFS, while 6-4 Lancaster snuck in as the No. 8 seed. In D-II Region 7, Dresden Tri-Valley went 9-1 and watched as 6-4 Uniontown Lake claimed the last spot by .05.
In fact, 17 6-4 teams made the playoffs last season and two 5-5 teams made it. The year before, 22 6-4 teams played in week 11, while five 5-5 teams advanced, and a pair of 4-6 teams made it. In 2001, a 3-6 team made it. Since 2000, at least one team under .500 made the playoffs eight times. In that same span, a 5-5 team made it every year but 2005.
As one football coach told me a few weeks ago, “beat the right teams and you make the playoffs.”
That’s not the way it should work.
Take a look back through the description of how points are earned and what do you not see? How the computer accounts for a loss.
Losses have never been taken into account in this system that dates back to the early 1970s.
Sure, as the season progresses, a loss to a really good team means the loss of the opportunity to earn level two points, which are very important. Too important, if you ask me.
I understand how schedule strength can help determine whether a team is good or just steamrolling through a cupcake schedule. But even when college football had its Bowl Championship Series (BCS), points were deducted for losses.
My solution is two-fold.
When a team loses a game, it loses half the level one points it would have earned with a win. Secondly, when a team loses a game, it doesn’t earn any level two points for that week.
If beating good teams is important, losing to them, or any team, should be equally as important.