Five new business items were approved during Wednesday’s Florida High School Athletic Association football advisory committee meeting inside the FHSAA’s Dorothy Brunson conference center.
Increasing the playoff point structure for losses, awarding bonus points for playing schools in larger classifications, adding two additional playoff teams for each region in the lower classes (1A-4A) with byes for the top two seeds, clearing up the language on postponed/interrupted games and increasing the playoff roster size from 60 to 75 were the five agenda items approved Wednesday.
“We felt good about 5A through 8A,” FHSAA football administrator Frank Beasley said. “We hit the nail on the head. It created some excitement. Did exactly what we wanted it to do. ... (But) 1A through 4A, we need to tweak some things.”
Two of the agenda items, the lower classes having six playoff teams per region and the increase in playoff rosters, are policies. That means the next step is they’ll get sent to the Jan. 10 athletic director’s advisory committee meeting for approval and then the FHSAA’s board of directors for approval.
The other three agenda items, which included increasing the playoff point structure for losses, awarding bonus points for playing schools in larger classifications and clearing up language on postponed/interrupted games are FHSAA procedures, which are sent for endorsement to the AD advisory committee and board of directors.
The difference is those three items were approved in house.
“We’re a member-driven organization,” Beasley said. “Our coaches have a lot of say over what goes on and before we add anything, we want to make sure they agree with it or not agree with it.”
With the 2017 playoff point structure, teams received more points for beating a Category 4 team, which was one with a winning percentage less than 39 percent, than losing to a Category 1 team, which was one that won more than 80 percent of its games.
So Wednesday’s meeting rectified the concerns about rewarding teams for beating weaker teams rather than playing tougher opponents as the system was designed to encourage.
Venice head coach John Peacock, one of two Section 3 representatives on the advisory committee, suggested raising the point total for a loss to a Category 1 team to 40.
Instead, it was approved on a scale of 35 for a loss to a Category 1 team, 30 for a loss to a Category 2 team, 25 for a loss to a Category 3 team and 20 for a loss to a Category 4 team. In essence, an increase by five points across the board.
“I think you need to reward teams for playing tougher opponents,” Peacock said.
Awarding bonus points for playing schools in larger classifications was amended from a one-point per class scale to a tiered system with a max of three points and no deductions for playing down. That goes into effect starting in 2019.
“The excitement level was higher than it has been in a long time,” said Madison County head coach Mike Coe, one of two representatives from Section 1.
Also impacting the lower classes (1A-4A) was adding two playoff teams starting in the 2018 season to alleviate the issue of good teams such as Miami Booker T. Washington, considered one of the top 4A teams in the state, missing out on the playoffs due to other 4A programs not playing them.
But when it comes to the playoffs for all classes, one idea that was kicked around after denying a cross bracket proposal was nixing regions altogether and going to a seeding of 1-16 for the North and South sections of Florida.
“I’ll sit down and start vetting it,” Beasley said. “If we did that, where would teams fall? I’ll take last year’s records and their points. And I’ll go who would be 1 through 16? Where would they have to go?”
Increasing playoff roster size was one of the two final agenda items. That and the postponed/interrupted games proposal drew the biggest passion from the committee members.
As it stands, playoff roster sizes are set at 60 and Miami Columbus head coach Chris Merritt, who was one of two coaches representing Section 4, told the story of his team’s 2014 season. Columbus advanced to the state championship with 41 seniors, but Merritt had to tell 16 of them that their careers were finished before that state title game due to the roster cap as they weren’t as high on the depth chart.
“They are still part of the program,” Peacock said.
Football’s uniqueness compared to other FHSAA sports is that there is no cut.
“If you show up to practice every day and do the right things, you get to be on the team,” Peacock said.
The language from the postponed/interrupted games proposal, which includes a two-hour cumulative time delay period, was approved in concept only. It was kicked back to the FHSAA staff with language recommendations that included interrupted games must finish the next day or set a mutual date and send to the FHSAA by 9 a.m. the following day, the FHSAA executive director or a designated person steps in to decide when postponed/interrupted games are not mutually agreed on.
While the agenda items focusing on the playoff structure were the main talking points, there were roundtable discussions on 7-on-7 concerns with “street agents” and the championship venue at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, which is in its final year of its contract next year.
Nothing was decided off that.
Next up at the FHSAA is the athletic director advisory committee meeting held at 9 a.m. on Jan. 10.
1. Increase loss to a Category 1 team from 30 points to 35 points (the same as a win over a winless team) for the 2018 season. This is designed for teams to play tougher opponents and reward those that do.
2. Awarding bonus points for playing schools in larger classes, based on a 1-point per higher class scale. The 1A rural schools are placed in 2A or 3A for bonus points only, based on enrollment size. Out-of-state teams are placed by Florida’s school enrollment classification system for bonus points. Amended to a tiered bonus points system, capped at three points, which needs a proposed model.
4. Adding two more playoff teams per region in the lower classes (1A-4A) from the current model of four teams. The top two seeds receive byes. This starts with the 2018 season.
10. Clear up language on postponed and interrupted games, so teams can’t manipulate the system. Every game must have a winner and loser declared. Postponed games are ones postponed before they begin. All postponed games must be played the next day unless both schools mutually agree on a later rescheduled date. Failure for a team to participate in the rescheduled date results in a forfeit, and all games on a team’s schedule must be played the Tuesday before Week 11 on the football calendar. Interrupted games are those happening after the game starts, but isn’t finished. Teams either mutually agree to end the game with the score as it exists, mutually agree to resume the game at the interrupted point the next day or a mutually agreed upon later date. All interrupted games completed by Tuesday of Week 11 on the football calendar. There’s also a two-hour cumulative delay deadline for each regular season football game, which starts when officials and/or administrators interrupt the game. Teams go to the interrupted contest procedures above after the two-hour cumulative delay period ends. Was approved in concept only. Sent back to staff for language revisions that were recommended.
11. Changing the playoff roster size from 60 to a team’s average number of dressed for their 10 game regular season rosters. This is designed to avoid teams from cutting players from an arbitrary roster size that isn’t based on school size or regular season roster size. Was approved under the alternative proposal of 75 players.
3. Eliminating the two-year schedule contracts after the 2018 season, except for the district schedules for 5A-8A. Allows more flexibility with scheduling under the new playoff system as teams can fluctuate from strong to weak year-to-year.
5. All classes go to a no district, no mandated play model starting in 2019. Teams only play nine games, instead of 10. The top 16 teams make the playoffs per region in the higher classes (5A-8A) and the top 8 for the lower classes (1A-4A). This amounts to 75 percent of the teams in each region make the playoffs to have a true playoff.
6. Guaranteeing lower class (1A-4A) teams three games based on a random number draw conducted at the annual region meeting so strong teams aren’t stuck trying to fill their schedule.
7. Leveling regions in the lower classes (1A-4A) so they each have the same amount of teams as possible.
8. Putting the lower classes (1A-4A) back into districts after the 2018 season just as the higher classes (5A-8A) currently are.
9.Changing the bracket procedure for the 2019 season, so there is a cross bracket with Region 1 competing against Region 2 and Region 3 against Region 4. This alleviates two strong teams in the same region (Braden River-Venice this year) knocking each other out in an early-round game.