It’s going to look and feel different.
No screaming student sections.
Socially distant seating areas.
Fans wearing masks.
But make no mistake about it. Football season is officially here.
COVID-19 has brought upon many changes including the aforementioned. But perhaps something good may come out of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of COVID-19, the Ohio High School Athletic Association shortened the football season to six games and made every team eligible for the playoffs.
Up until this year, only eight teams in each of 28 regions (four regions per division) made the playoffs — 224 of 709 teams. But now all 649 teams planning to play this fall (60 paused or cancelled their seasons) will get to experience the excitement of the post-season.
Why not make it a permanent change? Football is the only sport where not every team can automatically enter the post season. It works for other sports and it can work for football.
In May the OHSAA announced it was expanding the playoffs next year from 224 to 336 teams (12 per region) and will give top four teams byes. The season will start the week of Aug. 16 which means the playoffs will still end in early December as usual. If I do the math correctly, there will be an average of around 100 or 101 teams in each division (101.285714… to be somewhat exact), with 25 in each region, give or take.
So we are basically adding 12 or 13 more teams in each region. If we increase the number of byes to make sure we don’t get 70-2 first-round scores all over the state, I don’t see why this won’t work by eliminating one regular season game. I bet almost every coach and athletic director will be willing to trade week 10 for a post-season game. Sure, teams will lose some ticket revenue and definitely some money at the concession stand, but some will make it up by hosting a playoff game.
This will once and for all eliminate the computer system that’s been in place since 1972 when only one team per region made the playoffs. I’ve never been a fan of it because it places a lot of emphasis on schedule strength. Teams get points when their opponents whom they have defeated win other games (second-level points). That hurts good teams in weaker conferences. It could also make so-so teams look better than they are if they get lucky and beat a great team on an off night and ride those points to the playoffs.
Just scrap it all and let everyone in.
It will allow teams to schedule more intriguing matchups without worrying about playoff implications. Teams like to play opponents within their own division, avoiding smaller schools who offer fewer computer points. How about big school Beavercreek against small school Bellbrook. Their school district lines touch but I can’t recall them ever playing in the last 10-20 years, if ever. Bellbrook could also take on Xenia.
We could also see Fairborn take on Cedarville or Greeneview in another Greene County matchup that would be fun to watch. Perhaps we could have an all-day football fiesta at Central State, where all teams in our coverage area could play each other annually on a rotating basis, kind of like the Skyline shootouts that took place the last few years.
Just some ideas and maybe not great ones.
But playoff participants shouldn’t be determined by feeding scores into a computer.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.