What you need to know about the new CIF Southern Section high school football playoff division proposal

The CIF Southern Section recently released football playoff brackets that reflect what the playoffs would have looked like in 2019 if a new rule that will be proposed in the coming weeks had been in place this past season. Here’s what you need to know about the proposal.

WHAT IS THE PROPOSAL?

The new proposal would put football teams in playoff divisions at the end of the regular season based on their performance during the year. This is a significant change to years past, where teams were placed in divisions before the regular season began based on their play the last two seasons.

HOW EXACTLY WILL THE DIVISIONS BE MADE UP?

The Section will use CalPreps rankings to make up the divisions. In his latest “Commissioners Message”, Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod provided more information on how the division placement process will work:

Divisions and brackets will be created around automatic qualifiers. We currently have 178 automatic qualifiers from leagues across our 14 divisions. This year, Division 1 had 7 automatic qualifiers, which leaves 171 automatic qualifiers remaining. These 171 qualifiers would be distributed evenly across the other 13 divisions, which means there would be an average of 13 automatic qualifiers in each one. We would identify automatic qualifiers from the power rankings, starting at the top and then working down, and build the divisions accordingly. For example, in each division you begin with the power rankings identifying the first automatic qualifier until you reach the thirteenth automatic qualifier. That process might include a total of 20 schools to arrive at the 13 qualifiers. Then, you identify the three highest ranked teams in that division of 20 schools who are not automatic qualifiers from their leagues and those three teams would be selected as at-large teams to complete the 16-team bracket.

If the Southern Section goes with an eight-team Division 1 again in 2020, then the top eight teams from the CalPreps rankings will be selected and the rest of the automatic qualifiers will be divided up evenly into the remaining 13 divisions, with at large teams making up the remaining seeds. Sixteen teams will make up all other divisions. Automatic qualifiers will be determined based on league finish. First and second place teams will be automatic qualifiers, as well as third place teams in larger leagues.

To see what the divisions would have looked like last year if this new rule were in place, click here. The breakdown begins on page 73.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR THIS PROPOSAL TO TAKE EFFECT?

Below is the timeline and what it will take for this seeding system to be implemented for next season. The following comes from Southern Section assistant commissioner Thom Simmons.

“[The proposal] is a first read at the CIF-SS Council Meeting on January 28. At that meeting the proposal will be on the agenda for the first time for consideration and discussion. After that, Council representatives from the 88 CIF-SS leagues will take the proposal back to their league meetings for their membership to vote on the proposal. At the March 31st CIF-SS Council Meeting those leagues will vote on the proposal. If it passes, it goes into effect for the 2020 football season. If not, the proposal is dead.”

We’ll know if this format will be in place for next season by March 31.

WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL NECESSARY?

The Section is weary of teams adding transfers and blowing out their competition in a smaller division. Determining playoff divisions based on how a team performs that season means a team that adds a lot of talented transfers will compete against schools that are at or around their skill level. This proposal also means a team that loses a great senior class one year would have a chance to compete in the playoffs the next because the team wouldn’t be held to the standard of the great class before them. It ultimately comes down to fairness. The Section views this as the best way to create the fairest football playoffs.

This proposal is competitive equity in its final form. We’ll see in the coming months if it gets adopted.

Thank you for joining the discussion on SBLive!

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