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Making sense of the new play-in rules
Confusion abounds as Crook County earns a football play-in game
November 01, 2012
After defeating Summit two weeks ago, the Crook County High School football team waited to see if they would qualify for a play-in game.
On Friday night, following the final week of the regular season, those involved with the program crunched the numbers to see if they had a game and who the opponent might be.
Several changes occurred in the power rankings in the final week. Most notably, Special District I rival Ridgeview fell to 17th in the final standings — one place below Crook County. Ridgeview’s drop in the standings came despite earning a win in their final regular season game, and beating the Cowboys 40-8 to win the district title.
With Crook County in 16th place and Ridgeview in 17th, coaches from both schools assumed that the two squads would play a rematch tonight in Prineville at Ward Rhoden stadium.
I also stayed up late Friday night and came to the same conclusion based on what is written on the OSAA?website under play-in model.
Sunday, the Crook County High School football staff had their weekly meeting to prepare for the game, and spent the time preparing for Ridgeview.
Imagine their surprise when the play-in pairings came out and Crook County was scheduled to play on the against No. 20 Madras, while Ridgeview is on the road at No. 15 Siuslaw.
After noting that the pairings didn’t match the play-in model posted online, I called the OSAA?first thing Monday morning in an attempt to confirm the play-in schedule as well as to get an explanation of why the change.
I was unable to confirm that the posted schedule was right prior to press time, so we ran the posted play-in matchups in Tuesday’s paper with a note that we had not yet confirmed the schedule.
OSAA Assistant Executive Director Brad Garrett returned my call Monday afternoon, after we had already gone to press, and confirmed that the posted matchups were indeed correct.
When asked why they didn’t match the play-in model posted on the OSAA website, he referred me to Stayton athletic director Evan Brown.
Garrett noted that the OSAA?does not make the rules for who gets play-in games, nor do they determine which teams are matched against each other. He noted that all the OSAA?does is post the schedule and then seed the playoffs once all playoff teams are determined.
He added that each classification makes their own rules for who gets into the playoffs.
Brown and Crook County athletic director Scott Polen were eventually able to clear up why there was a discrepancy in the scheduling.
It turns out that not all of the play-in model is actually posted on the OSAA?website. What is posted is correct — as far as it goes. However, the missing piece led to the misunderstanding.
The play-in model adopted by Class 4A this summer altered the number of teams advancing into post-season play from 32 to 24.
The 24 teams are then divided into three groups. Group A includes the league champions from the Cowapa, Tri-Valley, Oregon West, Sky-Em, Far West, Skyline, and Greater Oregon leagues plus the highest-ranked No. 2 or hybrid team. All teams in group A receive a bye directly into the playoffs and are then guaranteed a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Group B includes the No. 2 teams from the aforementioned leagues plus the next highest ranked No. 3 or Hybrid team. Each of those teams is scheduled to host a play-in game.
Group C consists of the No. 3 teams from each of the seven leagues plus the highest ranked hybrid or non-automatic qualifier remaining. All Group C teams are scheduled to travel for their play-in game.
The misunderstanding came because one important piece of the formula was not included online. Following the play-in model description, the Class 4A athletic directors chose to add three questions along with answers to those questions.
Those of us who had Crook County hosting a play-in game assumed that since Gladstone, the No. 2 team from the Tri-Valley league, received a bye as the highest ranked No. 2 or hybrid team, that Crook County would move into Group B with their 16th ranking.
However, the question and answer portion of the play-in model, which is not posted online clearly states, “Q: If the Tri-Valley League No. 2 qualifies into Group A, who fills their spot in Group B?
A: The Tri-Valley No. 3 would then be moved to Group B to ensure that each league hosts a play-in game.”
As the third-place team in the Tri-Valley League, that means that Madras was awarded a home play-in contest. One final question and answer that is not included on the OSAA?website also deserves mention.
“Q: Are the Hybrids guaranteed a home game?
A: No, the No. 1 Hybrid is guaranteed a spot in the play-in round and will be placed into the matchup based on their power ranking. Worst case scenario, the Hybrid No. 1 would be the final team in Group C.”
In other words, the Class 4A athletic directors do not consider Special District I to be a valid league. Although they have provided a provision to make sure that at least one of the hybrid teams does get a play-in game, they have gone out of their way to make it difficult for hybrid teams to earn a home contest.
The same rules apply to all team sports. The Crook County High School volleyball team has earned the No. 1 ranking and consequently earned a bye and a home contest. However, if they had fallen to third place, they would have lost their bye and if they had fallen to 11th place, they would have had to travel for their play-in contest.
The system is intended to reward league champions, and equalize home games. It’s a great system — as long you are in a league. Otherwise, it’s not so good.