Since I moved to Missouri in 1995, I have never been able to understand the whole high school football playoff system. I thought it was a joke that the first seven games of the season could basically mean absolutely nothing. All that mattered were the three district games. Then when MSHSAA introduced the four year trial period of the top two teams from each district making the playoffs, I thought “why not make every school eligible for the playoffs?” Well…
That is essentially what is being considered as MSHSAA looks for feedback from it’s members on how to format the high school football playoffs after one more experimental year of the current system. Here are the three options opened up for discussion.
1. Keep the current system, which basically advances half of the state’s football teams into the playoffs.
2. Return to the previous system, used from 1988-2007, which qualified only one team from each four-team district.
3. Play a nine-game regular season, with the 10th week beginning a seeded tournament that would include every team in the state.
From what I’m sensing from what I’ve read, don’t be surprised if some form of the third option is selected. Giving every school a greater opportunity to succeed I’m sure is in every high school administrator’s best interest.
To give you a better idea of how the third option would work, I like the way Rus Baer of the Columbia Daily Tribune explains it. I would like to see eight team conferences formed, with schools scheduling three non-conference games, followed by seven conference games. The winner of each conference gets an automatic playoff bid and, to fill out a 12 or 16 team format, the best records for non-regular season conference championship schools would be added to the playoffs as wild cards. Classes 1-4 have roughly 64 schools, of course Class 5 (appx. 48 schools) and Class 6 (appx. 32 schools) are a little smaller and would therefore have smaller playoff fields.
However, this format would add more meaning to the ten game regular season schedule while still including about the same number of schools who currently make the playoff.