Testing the seeds
By Kent Mueller Special to PrepsKC
This is the first in a series of articles that will look at how the new Missouri points system reflects actual playoff success.
This is the time of year when high school football fans anxiously await the seedings for the district football play-offs. The buildup and suspense doesn’t quite match the hype surrounding the announcement of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets. But, if you have a vested interest such as a son competing, you follow this process closely. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) has gone to a new format to seed the 337 schools which compete in 11-man football.
The format is quantitative. It measures the strength of each team in four areas. Each one is assigned a numbered score. The four scores are added together to give each school a point total by which they can be ranked. If you want to get into the nitty gritty details of the formula, you can find them on page 6 of the MSHSAA 2012 Football manual by clicking here.
The four areas that combine for the total score are as follow:
Those four scores are commonsized to the number of games played and then combined to give each school a score by which they can be ranked.
Each school is assigned by size and geography to a district with six to eight schools. The above system is used to rank those teams with the first place team playing the eighth place team and so forth for the first round of the play-offs.
The numbers are gathered in a way that the scoring can be used to rank schools within an entire classification. This allows us to combine all of the school scores to establish statewide rankings. Those will be used to test the ranking system throughout the playoffs.
There is one situation where an appeal can occur. In a nod to there being no perfect formula, MSHSAA specifies that you may appeal if you are seeded one slot below a team you defeated during the regular season. If a majority of schools within your district votes in your favor then you change places with the team you defeated.
There are two situations where an appeal would be attractive. One example is found in Class 3, District 7. The Pembroke Hill School was ranked fourth with a score of 42.99, followed by fifth place Clinton with a score of 42.27. However, back in week No. 2, Clinton defeated Pembroke Hill 7-0 on Clinton’s home field.
With these being the four and five seeds, a successful appeal would not change the opponent but would change the game location. Clinton was successful with its appeal and will be the home team instead of travelling to Pembroke Hill in the first round.
Class 3, District 5 had an appeal with a different motivation. Christian High School placed first in the district with a score of 44.57, ahead of second place Duchesne which had a score of 42.36. But in week 6 Duchesne defeated Christian High 15-8. Duchesne’s successful appeal didn’t change their first round game to being a home game, since they would already be playing at home, but it did change their opponent.
It is doubtful they were dodging the No. 7 seed to play the No. 8 seed, as those schools had scores of 18.48 and 15.58, respectively. Most likely the goal of the appeal was to change the second round opponent. By being seeded first, Duchesne would likely face Orchard Farm (38.02) in the second round. Absent the appeal they likely would play a seemingly stronger team McCluer South-Berkeley (41.44) in the second round.
The big question is, does the formula correctly measure the relative strengths of the different teams? Time will tell. I have loaded all the district brackets for all the classifications onto a spreadsheet. I now await the game results to see if the team with the higher score actually wins. No system is perfect; otherwise there would be no need to play the games. But we do want schools to be seeded into post season play in a fair manner.
I will be comparing game results with the teams’ relative seeding points all the way through the championship game. The results will be updated following each round.
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