17

Making Matters Worse

For many years there have been complaints that the MHSAA Football Playoffs make it difficult for some teams to schedule regular season football games. Teams that are too good are avoided because opponents fear losses, and teams that are too small are avoided by larger schools because they do not generate enough playoff point value for wins.

Recently the MHSAA has learned, only indirectly, that some among the state’s football coaches association are recycling an old plan that would make matters worse. It’s called the “Enhanced Strength of Schedule Playoff System.”

Among its features is doubling the number of different point value classifications from four (80 for Class A down to 32 for Class D) to eight (88 for Division 1 down to 32 for Division 8).

What this does is make the art of scheduling regular season games even more difficult; for the greater variety of values you assign to schools, the more difficult it is to align with like-sized schools.

The “Enhanced Strength of Schedule Playoff System” makes matters even worse by creating eight different multipliers depending on the size of opposing schools. Imagine having to consider all this when building a regular season football schedule.

When this proposal was discussed previously statewide in 2012, it was revealed that it would have caused 15 teams with six regular season wins to miss the playoffs that year, while two teams with losing records would have qualified. How do you explain that to people? It was also demonstrated in 2012 that larger schools in more isolated areas would have to travel far and wide across the state, week after week, to build a schedule with potential point value to match similar sized schools located in more heavily populated parts of our state and have many scheduling options nearby. How is that fair?

The proposal is seriously flawed, and by circumventing the MHSAA Football Committee, its proponents assure it is fatally flawed.

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.