Alan Dell

Are football playoffs grounded in logic or confusion?

Are we talking playoffs or headaches?

Get the aspirin ready and some counseling on how to handle disappointment and anger management.

The new high school football playoff system scheduled to begin in 2017 will require a new approach to life.

The Florida High School Athletic Association said it’s supposed to be making things fairer.

We won’t deny its honorable intentions, but its logic appears flawed.

The format is supposed to reward schools for playing a tough schedule, but that might not necessarily be the case. It still looks like it’s going to come down to winning the most games regardless of the competition, which is the very thing the FHSAA said it would avoid.

Schools in Class 5A through 8A will still retain the district format, which means winning your district is the only way to guarantee a postseason berth.

Each of the four regions has four district champions. A point system will determine the other spots to complete a field of 32 playoff teams in each of the Classes 5A-8A.

Under the point system a victory against a team with an .800 winning percentage is worth 50 points: (.600 pct.= 45; .400 pct.=40) and all other teams 35 points. Losses to such teams are worth 15 points less in each case.

So if we can play take some liberties without offending anyon,e how would this play out if the season ended now for Manatee County’s top three top public school teams (Braden River, Manatee and Palmetto)?

Now we are not suggesting Braden River is not the best out of the three, but the Pirates (4-0) have beaten three winless teams and will play a fourth Friday night in North Port.

You’re not supposed to be rewarded in that scenario, according to the FHSAA.

Coach Curt Bradley, I voted you No. 1 in our poll, and consider you sort of a miracle worker for what you’ve done with your program, so this is not personal. But your unique won-loss record at the moment presents a good case for study.

So can we take a look.

Braden River’s point total if the season ended today would be 145. If we include its expected victory over North Port, that would be 180 or an average score of 36.

Manatee has lost to two unbeaten teams and defeated 4-1 Palmetto and winless Alonso. Under the system, the Canes would have 125 points, or an average score of 31.

There is little reward for playing and losing to unbeatens Hewitt-Trussville and Venice. The Canes get 35 points each, just as they do for beating winless Alonso.

Palmetto presents the argument that beating mediocre teams could be the best ticket to the playoffs if you don’t win your district.

The Tigers have beaten four teams with a combined 6-9 record and lost to 2-2 Manatee. Those four victories give Palmetto 160 points. They get 25 points for their loss to Manatee, which gives them 175 points or average score 37.

So there you have it: Palmetto (37 average), Braden River (36) and Manatee (31).

In real life this will all play out in the second half of the season when Braden River, Palmetto and Venice play each other, but this scenario presents a cause for concern when you look at next season.

Befuddled and frustrated is how quite a few coaches are going to feel at the end of 2017 when they are left out of the playoffs because they played a tough schedule and didn’t win enough.

The bottom line is that piling up a string of victories regardless of the competition appears to be the best way to get a ticket to the playoffs.

Another concern: If Manatee remains in 8A-6 next season with the same teams, the Hurricanes are going to be limited in scheduling because it’s a seven-team district and that could hurt their ability to get more points. Manatee is already committed to playing Venice, Palmetto and Southeast in its non-district games, leaving only one spot open, which fans are hoping will be Braden River.

        

 

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