In the grand scheme of the divisional and sectional re-alignments for 2013-2015, the alignments — and any possible appeals — are a big focus, but only one of several points of interest for the next couple months.
Besides curiosities behind the section appeal process and what criteria will be used to determine successful or denied appeals for schools to move sections, the football playoff structure seems bound to change in at least one of the divisions.
There’s been discussion and ideas floated around with any number of scenarios, from cutting down Division I (which is down to 29 schools for the next two years) and expanding Divisions II and III to having everyone make the playoffs.
Not to be wishy-washy here, but middle ground seems the easiest — and reasonable — way to go.
Let’s take out the everyone-makes-the-playoffs idea, the least appealing of all options.
The first question thereafter that needs to be answered through the advisory committee and then executive board is where a number of teams or percentage of teams from each division should make the playoffs. I like a number.
Division I should stick with 16 schools, even its compacted form with more than half the schools making the playoffs. Division II (44 schools) and III (48 schools) is where things become murky.
If the playoff quotient remains 16 teams, that’s only about one-third of those divisions. The inclusion of sectional matchups once combined with more “freedom” games wisely puts a team’s schedule back in the schools’ hands, it’s hard to gauge fairness with uncertainly from the power rankings.
Conversely, a 24-team playoff bracket would be well-received, but could take away a regular season week Or, if the top eight seeds receive a first-round bye, it makes the season run a week longer. That can create issues with weather for non-Valley schools, travel and stadium availabilities for championship venues.
Winter sports coaches would have a fit, and it’d also be an odd schedule for the playoffs to last a week longer than the larger divisions (unless the return of a “bye” week comes into play in Division I, which it shouldn’t).
Between a dozen logistics and finances, this could be a messy process, further compounded by the notion that there are neither “wrong” nor obviously “right” answers.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.