In Play with Tom Markowski


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Football playoffs in need of changes in seeding format

By: Tom Markowski, October 26, 2014, 12:00 am


Farmington Hills – Now we’ve seen the football pairings it’s time we made changes.

It’s too late for this year but not too late for the years to come.

Let’s start in Division 2 Region 2 and you will see where changes are needed. Farmington Hills Harrison (7-2) is the No. 4 seed in district 2 and playing at Fenton (9-0), the top seed. If we eliminate the districts and seed teams one through eight in the region Harrison is the No. 4 seed and would host a first-round game. All four teams in district 1 have fewer playoff points creating this inequity. Even if Harrison defeat Fenton there’s no chance it will host a district final. It’s quite possible a team in its region will host the first two games with fewer playoff points.

It’s a shame. It isn’t right. And Harrison isn’t the only team getting the raw end of the deal here. There are many.

Let’s stay in Division 2 and go to Region 1. Caledonia (7-2) is seeded No. 3 in district 1 and will play at Muskegon Mona Shores (8-1). Eliminate the districts and Caledonia would be seeded fourth and would host a game this week, against Portage Central (7-1). Central has 91.778 playoff points; Caledonia 94.222. Central will host Portage Northern this week.

  In Region 3 Farmington (7-2) is the No. 3 seed in district 1 and will play at Oak Park (7-2) but if the teams were seeded 1-8 in this region Farmington would be the fourth seed and host a first round game.

In Division 8 Region 2 Coleman (7-2) finds itself in the same position as Harrison, seeded fourth in a district and would be seeded fourth in the region if districts were eliminated.

In Division 3 Region 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern is seeded No. 3 and playing on the road in a first round game in district 2 and it would be seeded third without separating the region into districts.

Half of the 32 regions are affected in this manner. Numerous teams are being cheated out of a home game this week, teams that earned home-field advantage by their play during the regular season.

Don’t blame the Michigan High School Athletic Association for this. This system, in its current form, has been in place since 1999 when the playoffs were expanded to 256 teams. Coaches throughout the state must push for change by contacting representatives of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and demanding such a change. The MHSFCA would then have the leverage to go to the MHSAA with a mandated proposal to make the playoffs more equitable.

There are times when a change such as this does not make common sense, like in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula due to the distance between the competing schools. Fine. Make exceptions. In those parts of the state where distance can pose a problem, seed the teams geographically.