Inside Selection Sunday: Mapped Out
October 19, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
NOTE: This originally was published Oct. 24, 2011, after selection of last season's playoff field. It's an explanation of how the MHSAA creates the playoff pairings for its football tournaments, a delicate task we will undertake again Sunday.
Sitting on the other side of this process for a number of years, I can admit to occasionally scratching my cynical head over some of the matchups that have come out of Selection Sunday.
How could teams so far from each other play in the same district? Why would two schools in the same town play in different regionals? Are they picking out of a hat at 1661 Ramblewood Drive?
Now, I have answers.
Sunday morning, we filed into headquarters for what might be the most important non-game day on the MHSAA calendar. “We” were made up of half of the MHSAA staff, plus a representative from the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
Here’s some of what I learned from being a part of the process:
- First, a brief history lesson. In early years (or until the middle of the last decade), lines were drawn by hand. Dots representing qualifying schools were pasted on maps, one map for each division, and those maps were then covered by plastic sheets. Districts and regionals literally were drawn with dry-erase markers. No longer. Using a variety of spreadsheets and mapping software, we’ve gone digital. Staff is split into two teams, each considering four divisions (and the 8-player map) before we reconvene and look at all nine divisions together.
- We are presented digital maps of the state covered in dots. That’s about it. The rule of the day, simply, is “geography rules.” Which teams are represented by the dots is not considered, much less discussed, until lines are drawn. While considering my group’s first map, I began to bring up teams – and immediately was shot down (with good reason). Teams, matchups, rivalries, previous playoff pairings, etc. DO NOT come into play. We draw boxes in what we figure are the most logical ways of making districts and regions work.
- Travel distance and ease DO come into play. This especially is true when considering which districts will include teams from the Upper Peninsula. An example: Marquette is closer to the schools we placed in its district – Fenton, Bay City Western and Okemos – than some other options because those schools are closer to I-75. Schools further north on the map but farther from a main highway would’ve created longer trips.
- Sometimes, maps get ugly. And sometimes, it was a matter of choosing the least ugly situation. Of course, a Division 4 District of Lansing Sexton, Dearborn Heights Robichaud, Battle Creek Pennfield and Vicksburg isn’t ideal. But with no other Division 4 schools within 35 miles of Lansing, we were put in a tough spot. Add in that there were 13 teams in the Detroit area, leaving one as the odd team out of three districts based there. Something had to give, and drawing things up as we did caused the fewest messes.
- Considering how to set up the entire state is different than figuring out what teams make the most sense for just one school or area. And shifting just one dot on a map can change things for all 32.
- Back to “geography rules.” The Division 8 district including Saugatuck, Muskegon Catholic, Mendon and St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic might be the most competitive, on paper, in the state. Saugatuck is the reigning MHSAA runner-up in the division, and Muskegon Catholic and Mendon were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the most recent Association Press poll. Seeing that after we’d drawn the line caused a collective “ouch.” But again, the line was drawn based on dots on a map.
I thought back on some of the matchups I’d questioned in the past, and came back to what I’d ask people now: How would you do things differently?
I imagine there would be some creative answers, but I also would guess we considered those scenarios too.
And remember, determining the playoff schedule is just one step in many. Eight state champions must survive it, regardless of which opponents they face along the way.
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 27, 2023
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.
The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.
Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.
“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”
Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.
All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.
“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.