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Kentucky High School Athletic Association makes changes to state’s high school football playoff rules

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Some changes are in store for the 2019 high school football season playoff system in Kentucky.

Members of the Board of Control for the Kentucky High School Athletics Association earlier this year stopped the practice of having district first- and second-round playoff games being played between schools of different districts.

Kentucky high school football will undergo some changes to its playoff system this fall. (KHSAA photo)

Instead, they will play those contests within the same district.

The Board also clarified the role that the Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, will play in the football playoffs; advising staff to revise the competition rules to specify that football will seed third-round games based on the Playoff RPI, which is the RPI at the end of the final regular-season contests.

Four factors will go into calculating the RPI for each team, which is similar to collegiate sports:

• Game result. 1.0 for a win, .5 for a tie, 0 for a loss

• The winning percentage of the team being reviewed

• Opponents winning percentage

• Opponents’ opponents winning percentage

For mathematicians, those four factors will be weighted by the following formula:

GR*((0.35 × WP) + (0.35 × OWP) + (0.30 × OOWP))

The KHSAA says a major advantage to the RPI compared to other rating systems is that it is transparent and accurate, that the formula components are known and results can be easily replicated, and there is no incentive for a team to roll up a higher margin of victory.

In the unlikely event that two teams are tied at the end of the regular season, a tiebreaker system will be used in this order:

• Head-to-head result between the two teams

• Winning percentage

• Opponents’ winning percentage

• Opponents’ opponents winning percentage

• Highest-rated win (according to the final RPI standings)

• Next-highest rated win (exhaust all possibilities)

• Coin flip – The only reason for the coin flip is as a last result if all other scenarios happen to be tied.

In each class, the highest-remaining seed in regions 1-4 shall host the fourth-highest remaining in regions 1-4; the second-highest remaining seed in regions 1-4 shall host the third-highest remaining seed in regions 1-4; the highest-remaining seed in regions 5-8 shall host the fourth-highest remaining in regions 5-8 and the second-highest remaining seed in regions 5-8 shall host the third-highest remaining seed in regions 5-8.

For the fourth round, in all classes, the highest remaining seed hosts the fourth-highest remaining seed and the second-highest remaining seed hosts the third-highest remaining seed. For the championship games, the highest seed remaining will be the home team on the scoreboard and wear their dark jerseys.

According to a survey taken by the Lexington Herald-Leader and sent out to all 222 head coaches in Kentucky, 49 coaches offered favorable opinions, while 28 said they did not like it for various reasons. Twenty-five coaches expressed a “wait-and-see” attitude. Thirty-seven of the 139 surveys returned had no comment on it.

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett responded to opposition to the playoff changes.

“Someday, there will be an issue related to the football playoffs that is unanimously received by all of those involved with the game at our level,” he said. “But that day likely isn’t today and, like most times, the Board is left to sort through a wide variety of thoughts and opinions and make the decisions that they think are best after balancing all perspectives. It is certainly my hope, from my position, that our membership and the public will give open-minded support to the adopted changes throughout this next alignment period.”

Tackett noted that football has a large impact on communities and schools, including budgetary ones.

“I am happy that the Board thoroughly reviewed the alternatives for not only enhancement of the game, but also for dealing with the very real and present budget concerns that are presented to today’s programs.”

He also said there is no perfect solution to the playoffs issue. “Stabilization and continuance of this great American tradition have forced our Board to make some uncomfortable decisions. Everyone involved is challenged to think bigger picture than just next game or next year, and in many cases, not make the popular decision, but the best decision. Our Board feels strongly that these decisions are in the best interest of the member schools and is passionate about keeping this great game strong.”

The changes will be in effect during the 2019-2022 football seasons.

Regular-season play begins Aug. 23 throughout the state. The postseason begins in November.

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One Comment

  1. bigl says:

    Now see how dumb your percentage playoffs are if it started to day Barren county that did not win on District game would come in 3rd. That proves there is a there is a way that if a team did not win one district game they could come in first which 1st which I know you all think that is right which it is WRONG.

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