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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 1 year ago

FHSAA approves changes to football playoff qualification | Observer Preps

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The new Ratings Percentage Index will be utilized starting this year.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

Change seems to be a constant as it relates to football and the Florida High School Athletic Association.

The most recent of these changes came Monday, Jan. 28, when the FHSAA Board of Directors endorsed the recommendation set in place by the Football Advisory Committee relating to the use of a Ratings Percentage Index to rank football teams for the state playoffs.

Unlike the old system — which took into account a team’s winning percentage and their opponent’s winning percentage — the new RPI will include those two metrics, as well as the winning percentage of the opponents of opponents. The first two metrics count for 35% of a team’s ranking, while the newest addition will count for 30%.

For many coaches, it’s a positive change from the playoff point system that was used last year.

“It’s just going to make for much better games across the board, which is great,” Windermere Prep coach Jacob Doss said. “And we are finally — I think — getting some pageantry and some traditions in high school, because you’re going to get better coaches. It’s going to be great because right now there are just so many teams and everyone makes the playoffs. … Now, they’ll deserve to be there.”

One of the biggest issues has been that not all team’s schedules are what they may appear, and it has led to many blowouts in the first round.

Photo by Nate Marrero

A team could finish with eight or nine wins throughout the regular season, but if its schedule is padded with sub-.500 opponents, then its success could be misleading. It’s a topic that has been a thorn in the side of coaches who want to see playoff-worthy teams in the tournament.

Olympia head coach Travis Gabriel said the rules should go even a step further to make it more difficult to allow teams into the playoffs.

“One strict rule should be‚ if you have a losing record, you can’t make the playoffs — period,” Gabriel said. “You can’t make the playoffs at 4-6 or 3-7. You shouldn’t even be thought of. I think that’s something that should be done.”

Although Doss’ Lakers team plays in the SSAC — which is separate from the FHSAA — the new playoff changes have sparked a debate: Should Windermere Prep stay in the SSAC or make moves to join the FHSAA?

“I have a list of eight or nine questions, because we are at that critical juncture where, ‘Do we stay in the SSAC for one more year and then potentially go out and do this?’” Doss said. “Off the top of my head, I think it’s pretty awesome, and it makes sense. I love what they’re doing across the board with all the sports. It’s going to be really good for our school.”

The ultimate goal of the FHSAA is to make the field more competitive and renew old rivalries, which would hopefully make the whole experience more fan friendly.

Having more excitement on the field by avoiding a barrage of blowouts also could help with another key issue — dwindling fan attendance, especially in the playoffs.

No one wants to sit through a 60-0 drubbing, whether they be in the stands or on the field. However this season’s schedules already are set, much to the dismay of many coaches.

Although Gabriel understands the intended purpose, the thought of having new metrics set into place was excessive in its nature. Instead, Gabriel would like to go back to a simpler method of determining who makes it into the playoffs.

“It’s a little complicated to me and confusing, because the fact is they’re taking the winning percentage of your opponent and then the winning percentage of your opponent’s opponent — that’s a lot of percentages and movement to determine,” Gabriel said. “Since we implemented the new playoff system, I’ve always been a fan of taking the district champs, and then you take what you would consider the best of the rest. “

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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