Texas HS Football Weekly Blitz


Improving Texas High School Football Playoff Tiebreakers
Vol. 1 No. 1
By Christopher Lyke
Texas HS Football Chief Editor

For those that are familiar with the site, new ideas and improved enhancements are continuously being made. Some changes for the long and short term future of the site includes this particular feature that will run on a weekly basis. Sometimes it will run even more frequent as new material and thoughts arise that I feel are important to bring to the attention of the Texas High School Football community which includes the coaches, players, parents, boosters and fans alike. This is designed to not just discuss thing that happen on the field of play but off of it as well.

Playoff Tiebreakers and the uncertainty

With all that being said, there are two particular things I feel need to be addressed and they are quite simple issues and have been used uniformly in other states. But the first thing I would like to discuss, since it is fresh off the backburner and filled with confusion and frustration among many trying to disect who has the advantage and disadvantage in district races and outcomes. The problem with the current state of playoff and district tiebreakers is the obvious. The UIL currently allows each individual district to chose its own way of breaking ties. This often leads to confusion and frustration among not just some coaches and players but the general public because there is no way of knowing from one district to the next what system is used.

The solution is simple. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

For starters, and I know it is still the recommended form of solution by the UIL.. GET RID OF THE COIN FLIP! It is by far the most unfair and unethical way of solving ties. Yes it is bolded and in italics with all caps for a reason. It is no way to end the season and dreams of the players who work hard and give their all on the gridiron for 48 minutes a week to work their way into a position to win the state championship. So far, I have not come across one person that remotely supports the use of a coin flip. Just imagine being on the losing end of the flip. It should never be used under any circumstance even in four and five team ties (which are rare but have happened in the last couple years).

So what is the proper solution and best way to make it uniform? Starting with the most common tiebreaker used in head to head. If there is a tie and two teams are involved, use head to head. District 7-5A this year did not choose this option with South Grand Prairie and Duncanville but instead used a coin to decide who stays home and who goes on to the second season. Head to head should be the standard two team tiebreeaker no matter what.

Moving on to the next step in case of three way ties and this is where the discrepancies and disagreements occur which in some cases results in a coin flip. But again, keep the coins in the pockets and don't use them at all.. don't draw straws, don't draw numbers, don't even use dice. Anything that involves a "chance" methodology. scrap the idea and get rid of it. And while it may or may not be perfect, most have found that performance does matter with the use of points. The capping of points is deemed necessary in case of blow outs and while this puts some teams at a disadvantage and discredits some of their perofrmance to a certain extent, it actually is a fair way of solving the tiebreakers and prevents the unnecessary running up of the score.

In terms of how many points there should be on the cap, some districts use 14 points, some use 18 and some use 21. And if you are going to use a uniform cap, the middle ground is always the best solution you could use. In this case 18 is plenty and fair enough. Under three way ties, with one spot to be determined under the head to head point tiebreaker, the high positive should always be the determined winner. If there is more than one spot to be determined, there is still a simple soultion. And this can also apply to four and five way ties as well. After you award the high positive the highest seed left unfilled, revert back to a head to head format among the remaining two teams. If there are more than one teams left in the tiebreaker, use the 18 point cap among those teams excluding the team that was awarded the first tiebreaker position.

So recapping, head to head, then use an 18 point uniform cap, back to head to head then 18 point cap until all slots are filled. How hard is it for this to the uniform system? It should not be hard and should be mandated statewide for every district. In this case, everyone would know the ground work and process to solving playoff tiebreakers before hand and there would be no confusion. If this is a mandated tiebreaker, there would be zero coins, straws, dice or any chance method involved in determining playoff spots. My advice to the UIL, coaches and athletic directors across the state would be to accept this propsal at your next meeting and end the tiebreaker madness all together.

In the next Blitz Package

In the next blitz package I will be proposing something that is used in other states and it is designed to teach sportsmanship among the players and coaches and also involves a bit of safety measures and emotion for the student-athletes. We will also begin to review the 2009 season to greater detail and look ahead to the 2010 season. If you have a response to this article or have a suggested topic please e-mail us today.
 
 

 

 

 

 

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