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Fla. considers strength of schedule to decide HS playoff teams

June 13, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationFootball
Florida is considering changes to how high school football teams make the playoffs. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Florida is considering changes to how high school football teams make the playoffs. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman

Florida’s athletic association this week will discuss potential changes to how high school football teams qualify for the postseason.

According to a report from the St. Augustine Record, one of those changes would be using strength of schedule to determine which teams make the cut. Schools would be free to choose any 10 teams they would like to face during the regular season, but creating an easy road could hinder their chances of advancing to the playoffs.

From the article:

According to the association, the proposal will include an elimination of district games, as well as the monikers of district champion and district runner up. Teams will be free to schedule any 10 teams they like. However, playoff participants will be based on strength of schedule and the top eight teams from a region will advance to the playoffs.

In a May webcast on FHSAA.org, Frank Beasley, a director of athletics for the FHSAA, said one of the impetuses for the proposal was the fact nearly half of the games played in the 2015 playoffs were decided by 21 or more points, including two of the five teams from St. Johns County.

“We decided to come up with a plan where we said ‘Hey, you can create your own schedule and find the 10 games you want,’” Beasley said. “And then, we’ll come up with a point system and we’ll seed the playoffs from there. I spoke with FIAAA and the FACA leadership in January. A few of them said ‘Hey, if this is something we’re going to look at for our smaller classifications, why don’t we look at it for our larger classifications too?’”

A number of states have made changes in recent years to address the growing margin of victory in high school football games, and making strength of schedule a determining factor in playoff selection could certainly help. Other athletic associations have moved to separate public and private school playoffs, arguing that private school teams have an advantage in luring the best talent to their institutions.

Florida’s proposed points system would award 50 points for beating a team that wins 80 percent of its games, according to the article. Teams would still earn 35 points for losing it.

Defeating a team that wins 60 to 79 percent of its games earns 45 points (30 for a loss), and beating a team that wins 40 to 59 percent of its games earns 40 points (35 for a loss). Bonus points are awarded for playing up a classification.

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