Southern Section moves forward with concept of competitive-equity playoffs

Dramatic changes in Southern Section playoff groupings for football and other sports took another step toward becoming reality on Thursday after the Southern Section Executive Committee supported the concept of creating playoff groupings using competitive equity to pick schools.

A proposal will be put forth to the membership at the Oct. 6 Southern Section Council meeting for a first reading, followed by a vote by league representatives in January.

Currently, schools are placed in playoff divisions for all sports but basketball based on what league they play in or enrollment. The new concept would place individual schools in divisions based on power rankings from past performance and strength of schedule.

In football, that could create a powerful Division I playoff division filled with the section's best 16 teams. It would also free up teams that have been stuck in higher divisions than they should be playing because they are in leagues with power teams, such as the Moore League with Long Beach Poly.

There will be no additional teams added to the football playoffs. There still will be 13 divisions and 16 teams in each division. Priority for playoff spots will be given to league champs, second-place finishers and third-place finishers within leagues. But if there's 18 teams for 16 spots, two teams will need to be cut based on criteria (probably the weakest third-place teams). Teams can apply for at-large berths if there are spots available.

The competitive equity concept should prove easier for sports other than football, because wild-card games can be added to balance out divisions.

The Southern Section is developing its power ranking formula by requiring schools to enter results of all regular season and playoff contests into the CIFSSHome system.

Results from the 2014-15 season and this coming season will be used to figure out power rankings. Divisions for each sport would be announced in August, with the new playoff format being implemented for the 2016-17 season if approved.

Divisions for boys' and girls' cross country and boys' and girls' cross country would continue to be based using school enrollment.