View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 11/20

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: November 21, 2018 - 12:01 PM

In my last column I talked about changes I would love to see in the Missouri playoff system. Well now it’s time to look at the other side of the state line.

Kansas has made significant changes the last three years to classes 4A-6A and while it does look to be an improvement there is still more that can be done.

The Kansas playoffs are like Missouri in the sense that teams play one less scheduled regular season game than before with the ninth week being used as the first week of the postseason. Every team is still guaranteed nine football games as in the past it’s just the last game is the first round of the postseason where teams play opponents based on where they fell in the seeding.

That is where the similarities end. Instead of eight team districts with standings decided by a mathematical formula that takes margin of victory and strength of schedule into account. In Kansas it is strictly based on wins and losses with margin of victory coming in as a tiebreaker.

To quote Herm Edwards ‘You play to win the game,’ but not all wins are created equal. I think people here in the Metro know that a 1-7 St. James Academy team is much different than a 1-7 Topeka West team. St. James took out a 5-4 Lansing team 34-27 in the first round while West lost to a 5-4 Mill Valley 49-10.

So a strength of schedule component would be the first change I would make. The Missouri formula isn’t perfect, but it has gained acceptance in the six seasons it has been used. That’s not saying Kansas should blindly copy but it’s a good starting place.

The next issue is one that crops up in Missouri and is even worse in Kansas. With eight-team districts the 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 games can be complete mismatches. In my previous column I talked about a discussion of taking the top six giving No. 1 and 2 a bye and letting No. 7 and 8 play a final regular season game against each other. That isn’t something I was in favor of in the past, but I am starting to see the benefits.

Ok, so if 1 vs. 8 or 2 vs. 7 is bad, what does that make 1 vs. 16 or 2 vs. 15? Well how about St. Thomas Aquinas beating Topeka Highland Park 69-14 with most of its starters on the bench or Shawnee Mission East beating Harmon 45-0 with most of those points scored in the first quarter and a half.

The big-time blowout benefits neither team. Nobody wants to end their season that way and teams that don’t have to or barely play their starters can suffer some rust in the next round.

So what is the answer? I would look to either go to eight team districts like Missouri or make the bottom two teams get to play each other with the 1 and 2 seeds getting a bye. That is if the seeding system is done by more than wins and losses. The 1 and 2 seeds should be earned by winning games and playing tough teams not just taking advantage of a weak schedule.

The final one that can be done right away is reclassify every year. This is done in the other sports and can easily be done in football. Missouri is doing that now and it should allow for schools to be in the correct classification most times instead of waiting to move up and down after two years when population of that school can fluctuate from class to class.

Well those are my thoughts. Remember change can be a good thing with the idea of finding the best format possible. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.