When the NJSIAA Executive Committee meets for its monthly meeting in Robbinsville this Wednesday, more changes to the high school football playoff formula are expected the win easy approval.
The Executive Committee passed the changes on first reading at its May meeting. A second affirmative vote this week would officially put the changes in place.
They include a step away from last year’s controversial use of the Born Power Index, with a move to a similar formula that would be used differently, and would not reward teams with better playoff position for larger margins of victory.
The Born Power Index calculated a team’s strength based on how it did – as in margin of victory, not a win or a loss – against other opponents, based on the difference between teams’ ratings. Those teams’ ratings were then used to help seed the playoffs, along with traditional power points. The more a team won by, the higher it’s BPI could go, and the better playoff seed they stood to receive.
The Born Power Index also was controversial because its formula was never revealed publicly. The power points formula, often tweaked, is spelled out annually by the NJSIAA.
If the new plan is approved, the Born Power Index would be replaced by the Opponent Strength Index. It also calculates a team’s strength based on how it did – using margin of victory – against opponents. The main difference is that a team’s own rating is not used to determine its seeding, rather the average of all the opponents it played. Teams would get the full value of an opponent they defeated, and half the value of a team they lost to.
The new proposal is geared toward satisfying three requirements of the New Jersey Football Coaches Association, which members devised following the 2018 season. They include transparency, removing the “spread” component, and less reliance on historical data.
The plan in front of the Executive Committee would appear to address all three.
The formula would be made public, with the NJSIAA expecting the new formula and football regulations to be published later this month.
While the “spread” (also known in the Born Power Index as the “projection”) isn’t entirely out of the formula (the difference between two teams’ ratings is now called the “expected result”), it would no longer be used in a way that would encourage running up the score or blowouts. In fact, larger margins would drive down an opponent’s rating, and thus their own Opponent Strength Index.
And while Born’s formula started with the previous season’s rankings, then had a four-game (albeit seemingly inconsistent) adjustment period, the new proposal would start with the same numbers but then “re-center” all teams around a mathematical midpoint. (Mathematically, starting all teams at the same number is an impossibility, as it could potentially lead to clearly inferior teams being indexed as superior, with not enough of a sample size – nine games, maximum – to correct.)
WCTC Sports will be covering the proceedings in Robbinsville on Wednesday, as it relates to football, and Mike Pavlichko will have a recap on the Thursday morning news on 1450 WCTC, as well as online.
Follow @mikepavlichko on Twitter for live coverage from Robbinsville, as well as for the latest updates on high school football.