“Why can’t Ohio allow all football schools to enter the post-season playoffs?” This is a question I continue to hear with some regularity. “They do it in Indiana. Why can’t we?”
Indiana? Not a valid comparison. Ohio has over twice as many football schools. Indiana plays only nine regular season games. Those factors permit Indiana to do what they do. They also open the season a week earlier than Ohio.
The answer here is simple and it comes down to numbers. Ohio has over 700 schools playing football of which 224 make the playoffs (about 30%). If you keep the current seven divisions you’d have to add two rounds of playoffs to get everyone in. Each additional round doubles the number of qualifiers and adds a week to the season.
If you decide this is a good idea, do you compress the regular season to less than ten games or simply add two weeks at the end to facilitate seven weeks of playoffs (or a hybrid of the two)? How many early round playoff mismatches would be created? What chance would these new teams have to make meaningful advancement?
How about adding divisions to create the all inclusive expansion? Let me say I haven’t found any support for crowning more than the current seven state champs. However, if we’re willing to go to 22 or 23 divisions we can let everybody in, and keep the ten game regular season with five rounds of playoffs. That’s so absurd it’s not worth considering.
I like where we currently are. In my opinion it’s still a nice accomplishment to make the playoffs, and nobody capable of going all the way is excluded. We have our share of early round blowouts but also have some great games. Remember when Minster was extended to double overtime on its own field to beat Mechanicsburg 42-41 in the first round and went on to the 2014 state title?
It is true that some undeserving teams make it to the November party but I’m not sure what you do about that. Our computer point system is in place and schools may choose league partners along with non-league opponents. Beyond that you try to win games and hope that the teams you beat win some games. It’s imperative that your non-league opponents have good seasons to maximize points and possibly yield a first round host role for the playoffs.
A year ago Sidney went 9-1 with a single loss to Troy. That’s normally enough to make the playoffs but not necessarily ensure a home game opener in November. Sidney got that home game as a top four regional qualifier when they beat St. Marys and Bellefontaine which both ran the table other than the loss to Sidney.
Let me add that I’m pleased the OHSAA is again back to placing some playoff divisions on Saturday night which definitely adds to the inventory of neutral site games potentially available to Sidney Memorial Stadium. It’s also good to have divisions six and seven on separate nights so fans of the Midwest Athletic Conference and other small schools can attend both as many do.