Extra Points: Brian Spano 10/25

Brian Spano

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 25, 2012 - 9:55 AM

Now we sail into uncharted waters.
I have made no secret of my feelings toward this year’s new playoff format in Missouri.
I have spoken with many coaches (head and assistant) throughout the season to get their thoughts of the system, and the reaction has been mixed at best. Some coaches like it because they feel it makes the season as a whole more important. Some coaches dislike it because it doesn’t penalize a team for playing down in class.
For instance, if a Class 5 team plays a Class 4 team, the Class 5 team earns no points for playing the game; however, the Class 4 team is rewarded for playing up in class. Doesn’t make sense to me.
Because the regular season has been shortened from 10 games to nine, and that tenth game is now the first round of the playoffs, it means every team in Missouri plays. So, does that legitimately make it a playoff?
With all due respect to the coaches who believe that the new format makes every game in the season important, I must disagree. The games are important to a degree if only for the fact that they help a team’s district seeding. But beyond that, how important is the entire season if every team makes the playoffs?
A team could still go 0-9 and play in the first round during week 10, and who knows, maybe get lucky that one night and knock off the top seed.
Does this make it right? Does this make it fair?
Sure, we all love the Cinderella stories in sports, but if the district games are played within the framework of the regular season, the potential for these types of scenarios wouldn’t happen during the current postseason format. The reality of it is, some really good teams are going to lose in the first round.
In the old system, there were teams that went 0-7 heading into district play and then caught fire during those last three games, and I am sure the same argument could be made now. But only two teams advanced to the true postseason from each district rather than every team in the state.
I am still not really sure what the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s motives were to revamp the whole system.
I would love to take a poll of the coaches I spoke with before and during the season when this season is over to see what they think after having one year under their belts. Whether their opinions change or not, they will have to abide by the same rules again next year.
Will there be enough of a groundswell from athletic directors, coaches, schools and media to force MSHAA to make a change again after next season? Or, will they continue with the status quo beyond the two-year trial?
Either way, it is going to be an interesting discussion when we see what the outcome of this season will be good, bad or indifferent.