OHSAA considering a strength-of-schedule component for football playoff system

Fairfield quarterback Talon Fisher carries the ball during their game against Hamilton Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium at Hamilton High School. Hamilton won 28-25. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Fairfield quarterback Talon Fisher carries the ball during their game against Hamilton Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 at Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium at Hamilton High School. Hamilton won 28-25. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

CINCINNATI — The Ohio High School Athletic Association is considering the addition of a strength-of-schedule component to its football playoff computer points system for the 2021 season.

The potential change is that Ohio high school football teams could earn one-half of first-level points with a loss to a team that is in a certain distinction in each region during the season.

For example, if Team ‘A’ loses to Team ‘B’ early in the season but Team ‘B’ is in the top ranking of its region (such as top eight or top 10 ), then Team ‘A’ earns one-half of the first-level points if Team ‘B’ remains in that category the remainder of the season.

But, if Team ‘B’ falls out of that specific category the following week, then Team ‘A’ would not receive any points.

Losing teams wouldn’t accumulate and keep points. Rather, a losing team would only be rewarded if their victorious opponent is in a certain category (such as top eight or top 10) each week. If not, the points are gone.

If a team loses to an opponent early in the season and that opponent isn’t in the top eight or top 10 of their region until much later in the season, then the losing team would earn those points at that time.

The specific category -- such as a top eight or top 10 ranking in a region in each division -- has not been determined yet.

Springfield's Te'Sean Smoot throws a touchdown pass to Anthony Brown in the first half against St. Xavier in a Division I state semifinal on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Alexander Stadium in Piqua. David Jablonski/Staff
Springfield's Te'Sean Smoot throws a touchdown pass to Anthony Brown in the first half against St. Xavier in a Division I state semifinal on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at Alexander Stadium in Piqua. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

The potential change would apply to all divisions and any crossover regular-season games such as Division I against Division III, etcetera.

The proposed change to the computer points system, also commonly known as the Harbin system, would apply to all seven divisions of Ohio high school football.

Currently, teams do not receive any computer points for a loss.

There would be no changes to teams who play out-of-state opponents. A loss does not have the potential for points in that scenario.

The plan is not approved or finalized, but a proposal may be sent to the OHSAA board of directors in May as part of the 2021 football tournament regulations.

OHSAA football administrator Beau Rugg told WCPO Friday morning that he’s heard requests for a strength-of-schedule component from the membership on an annual basis.

The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association said Friday it is aware of the initial discussions.

“The broad-stroke picture is that it’s been asked for for a long time, and we’ll see,” Rugg told WCPO, our news partner. “It’s like anything. We’ll see how this goes. If we need to tweak later on, we’ll tweak. That’s kind of the nuts and bolts.”

Rugg has discussed the potential change with Joe Eitel, who works to input and display the OHSAA computer points postseason ratings each football season. He said that Eitel used some of the numbers from the 2019 season with the component, and there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of change to the playoff qualifiers.

“We hope that helps some of our schools that struggle to schedule outside their conference,” Rugg said. “And that’s the hope. Again, any time you do something like this and there is change, you know, somebody could be negatively affected.”

Coldwater beat New Middletown Springfield 38-35 to win its seventh state football championship Sunday in the Division VI title game at Massillon's Tiger Stadium. OHSAA photo
Coldwater beat New Middletown Springfield 38-35 to win its seventh state football championship Sunday in the Division VI title game at Massillon's Tiger Stadium. OHSAA photo

Rugg said the potential change would also bring an added element late in the regular season.

“This will create a component of uncertainty of exactly, ‘If I win and somebody loses am I going to get in?’” Rugg said. “Not necessarily. Those strength of schedule points can change things.”

Rugg said this potential proposal would enhance the computer points system where it already rewards quality scheduling.

“The bottom line we all know is it’s a sport thing that you’ve got to take care of your own business,” Rugg said. “The other stuff will fall where it falls.”

The OHSAA board of directors approved a plan in May 2020 to increase the number of football playoff qualifiers in each region from eight to 12 starting in 2021.

The first Friday of the football regular season is scheduled for Aug. 20 and the regular season will conclude on Oct. 23, followed by six weeks of playoffs instead of five weeks.

The 2020 season was the first time since the OHSAA playoffs were implemented in 1972 that all Ohio teams were eligible for the postseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to run a dummy system last year to see how it would work and of course COVID hit and we just didn’t have the data,” Rugg said.

Coaches voted for seeding in each of the seven divisions in 2020 instead of using the computer points system.

Teams also had the option to opt out of the playoffs, or once eliminated they could continue to play regular season games until mid-November.

The 2020 regular season was shortened to six games.

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