KHSAA passes new football playoff format

Published 10:57 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Kentucky high school football playoffs will be getting a makeover after the KHSAA Board of Control approved a motion to use a Rating Power Index (RPI) to help seed teams. The move was made to address concerns by a portion of the membership regarding significant early round travel and unbalanced match-ups using the current cross bracketing system.

“I was shocked,” said Bell County football coach Dudley Hilton. “We didn’t see this coming. I can’t believe we didn’t do a survey or ask questions.”

Under the new system, the first two rounds of the playoffs would be played within the district. The RPI would be used to seed the third round with districts 1-4 and 5-8. It would also be used to seed the final four teams as well.

According to the press release, the RPI would be a function of the strength of schedule, with parameters weighted 35 percent of a team’s strength of schedule, 35 percent on its opponents’ strength of schedule, and 30 percent on its opponents’ opponents’ strength of schedule.

Hilton said the RPI portion of the new system could get a little tricky because you can never tell who is going to be good from year to year.

“We open up next year with Collins because we thought it would be good competition. A couple of years ago, they nearly won a state title. Last year, they only won one game. So you never know,” said Hilton.”

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said the RPI was the best system because of its objectivity.

“There is probably no fan of high school sports that doesn’t have an opinion about the football playoffs. There certainly have been a variety pack of formats as we continue to get membership feedback. However, in the end, the vast majority of the schools did not want to reduce the number of playoff teams,” said Tackett. “With that in mind and continuing concerns about less than desirable match-ups in the first round, the board felt very strongly that the amount of travel for the first two rounds needed to be reduced regardless of the fact the teams might have already played. Certainly, those repeat match-ups occur in every team sport and the board did not feel a difference was justified if less travel was involved.

“The RPI will be an exciting development, especially given the fact that it will be totally transparent. It does not reward teams for higher point margins, instead rewarding teams that play a tougher schedule, and will not be some group of people interjecting opinions and thoughts with potential unchecked bias. The objectivity of the RPI will be a great feature.”