District alignment, playoff changes announced

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Iowa High School Athletic Association?s Board of Control approved changes to the sport?s playoff qualifying system, and will now allow out-of-state contests starting with the 2018 season.

Classifications and a new two-year district format were also approved at the meeting.

?Player safety is the No. 1 priority,? IHSAA executive director Alan Beste said, ?and we are also committed to playing early round postseason games on Friday nights.

Keeping 16 qualifiers per class allows for maximum recovery time between games and maintains high school?s Friday night tradition.?


Number of playoff teams discussed

The number of regular season games and playoff teams per class will remain unchanged for 2018 and 2019, although the Iowa Football Coaches Association and playoff football advistory committee both recommended to expand the postseason field to 32 teams in Classes 3A, 2A, 1A, A, and 8-Player, and 24 teams in Class 4A after a nine-game regular season. However, the Board of Control unanimously opted tomaintain the current schedule with nine regular season games and 16 postseason qualifiers per class, which will allow the season to end before a holiday break, and avoid further overlap with winter seasons.

The new format for 2018-19 is as follows:

Class 4A: 42 teams, 7 districts, 6 teams per district; 4 non-district games per team.

Class 3A, 2A, 1A: 54 teams, 9 districts, 6 teams per district; 4 non-district games per team.

Class A: 62 teams, 8 districts with 6 teams, and 2 districts with 7 teams; 4 non-district games per team in 6-team districts and 3 non-district games per team in 7-team districts.

8-Player: 65 teams, 7 districts with 8 teams and 1 district with 9 teams; 2 non-district games per team in 8-team districts and 1 non-district game per team in 9-team district (Week 0 possible).


Postseason Qualifying System

A provisional recommendation approved by the Board changes how the 16 teams in each class will qualify for their playoffs starting in 2018.

The new format for 2018-19 is as follows:

1. Only the district champion or teams tying for a district championship receive automatic qualification.

2. For the first time since the debut of district football, all nine games will count toward postseason qualification.

3. The 17-point district tiebreaker will be eliminated and not factor into qualification.

4. Remaining at-large qualifiers will be determined by a Ratings Percentage Index formula. The RPI will use three criteria to determine postseason qualification.

a. Team?s overall win-loss percentage (accounting for 37.5% of the index)

b. Team?s opponent?s win-loss percentage (37.5%)

c. Team?s opponent?s opponent?s win-loss percentage (25%)

5. Classification differences between non-district opponents do not affect RPI.

?Our goal is to have the best 16 teams in each class qualify for the playoffs,? Beste said. ?We believe we get closer to that goal by having only district champions as automatic qualifiers, and the remainder of qualifiers determined by their success and the success of their opponents and other successful teams.?


What is the RPI formula? And where did it come from?

RPI stands for Ratings Percentage Index.

The NCAA uses variations of the RPI as a metric to rank teams for postseasons in multiple sports.

The RPI number will range between .0000 and 1.000 with higher numbers being ?better? in terms of a rating. In short, it is a way to measure a team?s strength relative to other teams, based largely on the strength of their schedules.

What percentages are being used in the formula?

The IHSAA decided to weigh three criteria in its first football RPI, which was approved at Wednesday?s Board of Control meeting.

WP = Your own winning percentage (weighted 37.5%),

OWP = Your opponents? composite winning percentage (weighted 37.5%), and

OOWP = Your opponents? opponents? composite winning percentage (weighted 25%)

So, the RPI formula used for the 2018 football season is: RPI = (.375 × WP) + (.375 × OWP) + (.25 × OOWP)


What happens if two teams are tied in the final RPI standings?

Tiebreaker for this scenario is as follows:

1. Head-to-head result between the two teams

2. Winning percentage

3. Opponents? winning percentage

4. Opponents? opponents winning percentage

5. Alphabet Draw