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October 29, 2012

A Simple Plan: Playoff Proposal

This plan was based on the last set of ADM numbers and not current numbers. It still, however, gives you an idea of what this plan would look like.

Jim Baxter is the publisher/owner of SCVarsity.com. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to scvarsity@sc.rr.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Here is a look at the 5-Class proposal; these are based on 2011-2012 ADM numbers; this alignment is not exact, just a model/example of what a 5 Class system could look like. These region breakdowns are followed by the "Simple Plan" playoff system.

The Class 5A would have the greatest disparity in the largest school and smallest school with 1,600 because of the size of the three schools being so large (Wando, Summerville, Lexington).

CLASS 5A
Region I Region II Region III Region IV
Byrnes Boiling Springs Riverside Northwestern
Easley Clover T.L. Hanna Rock Hill
Greenwood Dorman Westside South Florence
Hillcrest Gaffney Woodmont Lancaster
Mauldin Spartanburg Wren West Florence
Region V Region VI Region VII Region VIII
Aiken Blythewood Beaufort Goose Creek
North Augusta Ridge View Carolina Forest Stratford
Dutch Fork Spring Valley Colleton County Summerville
Irmo Sumter Conway Wando
Lexington White Knoll Ft Dorchester West Ashley

Class 4A - difference in numbers from smallest to largest school is 363 students.

CLASS 4A
Region I Region II Region III Region IV
Blue Ridge AC Flora Laurens Ft Mill
Eastside Airport Greenville Lugoff-Elgin
Pickens Brookland-Cayce Union Nations Ford
Travelers Rest Chapin Wade Hampton Richland Northeast
J.L. Mann Lower Richland Greer South Poin
York
Region V Region VI Region VII Region VIII
Ashley Ridge Crestwood Bluffton Myrtle Beach
Battery Creek Darlington Midland Valley North Myrtle Beach
St Johns Hartsville Orangeburg-Wilkinson Socastee
James Island Lakewood Berkeley Wilson
Cane Bay Marlboro County South Aiken

Class 3A - difference in number from largest to smallest is 401 students.

CLASS 3A
Region I Region II Region III Region IV
Belton-Honea Path Broome Pendleton Dreher
Southside Clinton Seneca Gilbert
Emerald Fairfield-Central Berea Keenan
Daniel Woodruff Walhalla Strom Thurmond
Palmetto Chapman West Oak Eau Claire
Region V Region VI Region VII Region VIII
Camden Bishop England Lake City Loris
Cheraw Edisto Lake Marion North Charleston
Chester Georgetown Manning Stall
Dillon Hilton Head Marion Timberland
Kingstree Hanahan Swansea Wade Hampton

Class 2A - difference in numbers from largest to smallest school is 341 students.

CLASS 2A
Region I Region II Region III Region IV
Abbeville Andrew Jackson Landrum Aynor
Ninety-Six Indiand Land Blacksburg Latta
Carolina Buford Mid Carolina Lee Central
Liberty Central Newberry Chesnee
Crescent Chesterfield Chesnee Waccamaw
North Central
Region V Region VI Region VII Region VIII
CA Johnson Allendale-Fairfax Academic Magnet Hemingway
Columbia Bamberg-Ehrhardt Ridgeland Johnsonville
Pelion Barnwell Burke Carvers Bay
Saluda Silver Bluff Woodland Andrews
Batesburg-Leesville Calhoun County Garrett

Class 1A - difference in number from largest to smallest to 284

CLASS 1A
Region I Region II Region III Region IV
Calhoun Falls Bethune-Bowman Lewisville Fox Creek
Christ Church Branchville McBee Blackville-Hilda
Dixie Denmark-Olar Great Falls Ridge Springs-Monetta
Ware Shoals Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Whitmire Wagener-Salley
McCormick North Williston-Elko
Southside Christian
Region V Region VI Region VII Region VIII
Hannah-Pamplico Baptist Hill Green Sea-Floyd Lincoln
CE Murray Cross Lake View Miltiary Magnet
Scott's Branch Estill Lamar St Johns
East Clarendon Hardeeville Creek Bridge Whale Branch
Timmonsville

The Palmetto state will begin its postseason football "playoffs" - and I use that term loosely - this Friday with the first round of the Class 1A, 2A, and 3A classifications...wait, what I meant to say was the first round of the Class 1A, Division I and II, Class 2A, Division I and II, and the Class AAA playoffs. That's right, three classifications will begin their playoffs, but in those three classifications there will be five champions crowned.

But wait; there is more. The state's largest classification, 4A, will begin their playoffs next week for each of their two divisions, crowning two more champions. That's right; our tiny little state will crown a total of SEVEN state champions for our four classifications.

And so will begin the most unique (or is it the most ridiculous?) playoff format in the country: four classifications; four different playoff systems.

I think most people, coaches included, have criticized the playoff system each year, but no one has really come up with proposals that would make it much better than what it is. Last year, however, we did get a proposal adopted for the Class 2A which actually makes it worse. The 2A now has two divisions, which in itself is somewhat ludicrous, but they will also allow EVERY TEAM into the playoffs. That's right. 100% of the 2A class schools will be playing a playoff game.

Also, this year will see the 3A classification take on a points system that will seed the No. 4 teams in the playoff brackets. What this does is allows a team who could not even finish fourth in their own region into the playoffs.

I did some research and looked at the other 50 - there are actually 51 systems - playoff systems from around the country. South Carolina leads all states in the nation in the percentage of teams that actually make the state playoffs. Prior to the Class 2A proposal for this year, we were already allowing 65% of the teams into the playoffs. Only Wyoming had more, with 70% making it, but we have surpassed them now with the new 2A system.

The arguments you will get for our system(s) range from "we need the gate money" to "we just don't see a better way of doing it - there is no perfect system." While I agree, after looking at all of the states' systems, that there is no 'perfect' system, I think I've come up with a very simple plan that would make ours the absolute best in the country.

My proposal is three parts:

A. Increase the number of regular season games from 10 (1a,2a,3a) to 12. This would enable schools to add an extra home game to their schedule, thereby giving them an extra gate revenue night.

B. One division per classification. No more multiple champions for the classes. Take it to a 5 classification system (You can view my proposal entitled "A Simple Plan" on www.scvarsity.com).

C. Only the region champion and region runner-up get into the playoffs.

Now, the arguments against this are so blatantly obvious - but unfounded - that they echo even before this is published.

Argument 1: SCHSL revenue would drop drastically because we would be going from 148 playoff teams to 80, completely losing a "round" of playoffs. That also means the "rights fees" that the League charges to media for broadcasting playoff games, which is also high, would go away in the loss of two rounds. However, we would still have three rounds with a championship in each classification and let's be honest here, are we (the schools) here for the SCHSL's benefit or is it supposed to be the other way around? If the SCHSL is hurt by that type of revenue loss, then get out and get corporate sponsorship to help. SELL South Carolina high school football to the corporate world - it's being done all over the country. (watch ESPN on Friday night). Keep in mind, adding the two extra games in regular season increases the number of games by approximately 144 games, which would generate some revenue for the SCHSL, as well.

Argument 2: By letting in only the region winner and/or region runner up, more than one region loss could put you out of the playoffs; EXACTLY. Every region game's level of importance is increased. By doing away with the "points system" you also open the door for natural geographic rivalries which would no longer hurt the teams because of "fewer points" for playing a team that may be in a lower classification.

Argument 3: But our region is stronger than Region "X" and our third place team is better than their second place team. That is irrelevant; if you are in third in the region then there would already be two teams in the playoffs better than you and they are both from your region. Do you want to play postseason? Then finish 1st or 2nd.

I understand the economics of high school sports. I know teams need the money. I'm all for doing everything possible to generate revenue to help these schools. But I'm also for placing value on region football game, value on playoff games, and value on championships. We live in a time, already, where there are no "letterman clubs" and a "Letter" is no longer earned, but is almost an entitlement to those who simply make the varsity team. Back "in the day" the Letterman jacket was a prized possession because it meant something; those days are over. Let's not allow the "state championship" to slip into the same rabbit hole.

PS: I have another idea for generating more revenue for the high schools: it is called "spring football" and allowing a jamboree or classic in the spring. It works well in Florida and Texas. But that is another proposal for another article later! You can check out my entire five class proposal at www.scvarsity.com entitled "A Simple Plan". EMAIL me your thoughts!!!



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