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IHSAA votes to change 2A playoff bracket to RPI-based

By LUKE O’ROARK
Loroark@postregister | @LukeORoark

Some significant changes are on the horizon for 3A and 2A high school football in Idaho.

Cougars’ Remington Chapman moves the ball down-field as Firth High School takes on Declo High School during the 2A Idaho state championships at Holt Arena on Thursday, November 18, 2017. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

The Idaho High School Activities Association board of directors passed a proposed change to 2A football playoff brackets Wednesday morning, switching the upcoming 2A playoff brackets from the traditional, predetermined brackets to an RPI-based format.

According to Idaho Sports’ Matt Harris, the change to an RPI-based playoff seeding could be implemented for 3A’s playoffs in 2019 “if the 2A RPI bracket in 2018 goes well.”

The 3A playoffs will remain the same this upcoming fall, but the classification will utilize RPI rankings to awards its sole, at-large berth this upcoming fall, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Idaho plans to follow Colorado’s example and weigh its games by classification, the Statesman reported.

Ririe head coach Jim Newton is encouraged by the change, saying he was excited about Idaho embracing new technology all while respecting conferences and rivalries.

“I know there were many versions, but to be honest, I saw merit all in of them,” Newton said. “I’m kinda excited about this. I think it gives many teams an avenue to get to the playoffs.”

According to the Idaho Statesman, the RPI-based seeding will mostly impact 2A teams who are fighting for the last three playoff spots. Thirteen of the 16 teams still automatically earn a playoff berth by finishing first and second in their respective conference.

After seeding is in place, the opening round will be determined by a committee of representatives from each district. They will use the RPI as a guide to determine matchups. Coaches are not allowed to join the committee, the Statesman said. Pending on who qualifies, cross region matchups are possible.

The committee will break Idaho down into two regions: Boise and Northern Idaho (District 1-2 and 3) and Eastern Idaho (Districts 4, 5 and 6). Teams from Boise and northern Idaho meet in the first round, while teams from eastern Idaho play in their own play-in round.

Winners of the pening round then advance, where the regular season RPI rankings set the pairings for the rest of the tournament. Results from the first round of the playoffs will not count towards the RPI, the Statesman reports.

RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, is a formula that determines a team’s seed based on winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.

Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Arizona all use some form of RPI rankings to seed at least one of their state tournaments, according to the Idaho Statesman. RPI can also been seen in Iowa sports as well as college basketball.

Former playoff seeding was based on predrawn brackets set by the IHSAA before every season — drawing complaints from fans, parents and programs alike. During the previous 2A playoffs, Wendell (0-7) and Soda Springs (1-7) both made the playoffs. Ririe (5-3) did not.

At lease one winless, or one-win team, has made the 2A playoffs each of the previous three seasons, according to the Statesman.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the rest of the state and others sports could adopt an RPI-based system by 2020.

“I think it’s gonna be the playoff bracket more competitive,” Firth coach Keith Drake said. “I think it’s a neat idea to give some teams like Rire, who were just in a dang competitive conference and just missed out, a chance.”

Drake added that non-conference games will have “more impact” and complimented Dwight Richins, a District 6 Representative who was at the IHSAA meeting.

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