A CIF-Southern Section high school football postseason where playoff divisions are determined by teams, not leagues, got one step closer to becoming a reality on Thursday.
The Southern Section Executive Committee agreed to move forward with the concept of creating playoff groupings for football based solely on the competitive equity of teams. The concept will soon become a proposal made to the Southern Section Council at its Oct. 6 meeting. That would be followed by a vote of league representatives in January. The new format could be in place by the 2016-17 school year.
“We want to make a difference,” CIF-Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said. “If you’re in a leadership position, it’s your job and responsibility to make a difference. And I firmly believe this could be one of the biggest differences made in the Southern Section in our over 100 years of history. I really believe that.
“This is a major change from what we’ve been doing.”
The new format would be similar to the one currently used to determine the boys and girls basketball playoffs. But unlike basketball, school enrollment will not be considered, only competitive equity. Currently, football playoff divisions are determined by league groupings. Under the new format, teams from the same league could play in different playoff divisions.
Strength of schedule would be the key metric used to determine the power rankings of each team. Only the previous two seasons’ worth of data would be considered, thus creating the possibility of heavy movement from year to year. Teams would find out their annual division assignment in August, mere weeks before the season starts.
The new system would surely create a super Division 1 where the top 16 teams in the Southern Section would compete for the championship. It would also create a more realistic chance at postseason success for schools currently toiling in upper divisions simply because of their league placement.
“Our responsibility as an organization is to show our schools an alternative,” Wigod said. “We’ve been doing it a certain way and this is an attempt to show them a different. It’s ultimately up to them. It will be their decision; if they prefer to keep going the way we are or if they’re interested in a new concept, giving every school an opportunity to compete for CIF a championship at a level that school and that team in that sport should be able to compete it.”
The structure of the playoffs would remain the same with 13 divisions and 16 playoff teams in each division. Like the current system, priority will be given to league champions, second- and third-place teams. At-large bids would also still be considered in applicable divisions.