The Section 1 football committee met last Friday to work toward finalizing schedules for the 2012 season. The meeting ironed out the better part of the schedules but several roadblocks remain before the schedules and the section’s overall football structure can be in place.
Here is information on a few key areas of interest:
SCHEDULING — The committee has completed about 90 percent of its schedule, according to John Jay athletic director Chris McCarthy. There remain glitches that need to be corrected, particularly in Class AA and A. Both classifications have an odd number of teams (15 and 29, respectively), meaning one team, at minimum, would play a non-league game every week.
“That is one of the issues that we’ve deal with creating the schedule with an odd number of teams,” McCarthy said. “When you do a (scheduling) matrix, you’re going to be short games.”
The committee also still has to assign home and away sites for games. With a seven-game schedule, it has attempted to balance the number of home and away dates compared to last season. (For example, if Team A played just three home games last season, it is more likely to have four this season.)
The committee hopes to meet again soon. Spring break has complicated that; some administrators are on break this week while others have break next week.
START DATE — The Section 1 football season will start on the same date this season, which is four days after the rest of the state begins practice in August.
However, progress has been made on the issue. The committee polled school districts this winter to test their interest and learn their reservations about moving the start date back four days. Aligning with the rest of the state would allow Section 1 to start games a week earlier and hold a regular seven-game regular season and three-week playoff.
McCarthy said he will meet with coaches from each county to have follow-up conversations and gather even more information. Section 1 would have draft and send a ballot to the school districts for a vote on the issue for the fall of 2013.
This was interesting: Through its research, the committee found there is a major split between Class AA and A schools and Class B, C and D schools about the start date. Between 80 and 90 percent of Class AA and A schools prefer to start practice with the rest of the state (on a Monday). Conversely, 80 or 90 percent of Class B, C and D schools prefer to keep the start date where it is currently (on a Friday).
PLAYOFF STRUCTURE — As of now, Class A will have an eight-team playoff in 2012. Classes AA, B and C will hold four-team playoffs.
As you probably know, Class AA had an eight-team field last season, but the number of teams in the class has since dropped by three. Last year, the section determined that a minimum number of 16 teams were required for one class to field an eight-team playoff.
If the playoff structure remains this way — and it is expected to — only Class A will play three rounds of playoffs in a two-week span.
McCarthy said the dilemma with an eight-team playoff in Class AA is the inequity it creates with Class A. With its 29 teams, Class A will have one league alone that is equal the size of all of Class AA (15 teams), meaning a Class A team would be roughly 50 percent as likely to make the playoffs as a Class AA team if both fielded eight-team playoffs.
SCHEDULING MATRIX/MULTIPLIER — This is for the die-hard Section 1 football fans out there. You’ve heard me discuss these two terms previously.
Let’s start with the scheduling matrix. The matrix generates a team’s schedule in the Piner-like system the section implemented prior to last season. It determines who each team will play based on power rankings. (For example, No. 1 will play No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)
This season, the committee has tweaked the scheduling matrix, shifting it further down. (Higher-ranked teams will play one or more lower-ranked teams compared to last season.) It will have the greatest impact on teams in the middle of the power rankings, according to McCarthy.
Last year, he said teams situated just a couple spots apart in the middle of the power rankings had vastly different schedules. Those schedules appeared to have an impact — and, in some cases, nearly had a major impact — on which teams qualified for the playoffs. In theory, the committee hopes its tweaks to the matrix will force lower-ranked teams to play one of two games against better opponents, thus giving them a tougher road to securing a playoff berth.
I have also talked about the possibility of a “multiplier,” which is a number assigned to each team based on its power ranking to “weight” its schedule. Again, this would benefit teams that played stronger schedules. (It did not exist last season.)
The idea isn’t dead for 2012, but it has yet to be implemented. McCarthy said the committee will create a plan and present the information to an outside party (a.k.a. someone proficient at complex math). If it is feasible and if it would work effectively, the committee would present it to Section 1’s championship committee for approval.
“Whatever we need to do to make it fair for everybody,” he said. “If that’s possible, we would try to apply it for the fall.”
This is obviously some complicated stuff and has required a ton of work by Section 1’s football committee. Progress has been made, but the schedules remain incomplete.
If you have questions — and I’m sure you will — ask away and I’ll do my best to clarify anything I can.