In its Executive Committee meeting Wednesday, the NJSIAA approved on first reading a high school football proposal which, at first glance, takes two steps forward, but three steps back in terms of the complicated process of seeding the state playoffs.
It would leave more uncertainty as to what teams comprise each section, but also add another formula into the seeding mix.
The "N.J. United Playoff Plan" - as reported here and by several other media organizations - would allow for bowl games at the end of the playoffs for public schools. It's seen as a step toward overall Group Champions at some point in the future, which only handful of states - including New Jersey - don't currently allow.
In terms of playoff seeding, it would eliminate a rule that counts a team's first eight games, but drops the lowest score. That would simplify things for coaches and fans who like to follow along with "power points," the ranking system used to determine seeding.
But the plan also would change how teams are grouped. Currently, each of the states five public group sizes are sorted into four "sections" based on geography. The top 8 in each section (usually 15 or 16 teams total) qualify for the playoffs based on power ranking.
The proposal instead would sort the teams into two sections of North and South, take the top 16 teams, sort them into two sections geographically, then re-order them based on ranking. This is more complicated because teams won't know who's in their section until the seeding is done. And it could change each week based on who is in the top 16.
It appears this would make it more difficult for teams to scout, not knowing who's in their section. Currently, if you're in the top 2 or 3, and 5 teams are battling for the 7th and 8th seeds, you know who's battling. The new formula would open that up to a wider pool of schools, leaving more guesswork for coaching staffs as they scout, and even share potential video in the weeks leading up to the playoffs "just in case."
But there's another wrinkle to this equation. Currently, power points are the sole determining factor in seeding. The N.J. United Proposal, however, would add in the Born Power Index. The NJSIAA then would combine the two rankings, weighing the current power points system 40%, and the BPI the remaining 60%.
Those total rankings would then determine the top 16 teams in the North and South of the state in each group, then sorting geographically into two fields of 8, then resorting by combined powers points and BPI to seed teams 1 through 8.
Once the sectional finals are complete, there would be the added step - for public schools only - of having the two North sections play each other in a "bowl game," and the South and Central sections playing each other in a "bowl game." A total of ten games would be played at MetLife Stadium, either on Thanksgiving weekend or the weekend after, which has been the traditional "Championship Weekend" since the playoffs were expanded to eight-team sectional fields in 1998.
What do you think of this plan? Tweet me @mikepavlichko to let me know. I'll be speaking later today to NJSIAA Assistant Director Jack DuBois this afternoon, and I'll try to ask him any questions you may have.