Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking at the prep football playoff expansion

The OHSAA will expand the high school football playoffs to seven divisions beginning in 2013. The key points are 1) all divisions will have 32 teams in the postseason, 2) Division I will have 72 teams, the other six will average about 108. Here's a look at who will be affected most:

-- Smaller Division I schools in the current setup: They have to be thrilled about being bumped to Division II. Even though they will be competing in a division with 36 more schools than the one they're leaving, they will become the biggest schools in D-II. Instead of hoping to put up a good fight in the first round, they can be optimistic about practicing on Thanksgiving.

-- Coaches in the new Division I: No pressure to make the playoffs right? With 44 percent of D-I teams set to make the postseason, new coaches will have about two years before parents and fans start asking why their school isn't in the playoffs. Is it fair? It depends on the situation, but that's what it's going to be.

-- Division I powerhouses: For schools like Mentor, Solon, St. Edward and St. Ignatius, they can count on 11-game seasons every year. Those smaller D-Is that racked up computer points like South, Glenville and Mayfield are leaving. But they're not being replaced. Not only will it be easier for the big boys to make the postseason, but those first-round games will be against five-, six- and seven-win teams. That will affect ...

-- Winter sports scheduling at those powerhouse schools. If I'm a winter coach at a school that's regularly in the Associated Press Division I  poll, I have to assume football season will last at least 12 weeks every year. I might be doing that already. Starting in 2013 it's much more likely.

-- The OHSAA: Adding one division and 32 teams to the postseason means more revenue. Making it easier for the biggest schools to qualify will help, too. Having 29 percent of the field come from the top two divisions ensures a minimum number of big schools with big fan bases will be in the postseason every year.

- Howard Primer


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