New Iowa high school football playoffs format: A closer look

Field will still consist of 16 teams; all 9 games count; and farewell, 17-point rule

Waukon’s Mitchell Snitker (8) scores on a 16-yard touchdown run in the Class 2A championship game during last year’s football playoffs. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Waukon’s Mitchell Snitker (8) scores on a 16-yard touchdown run in the Class 2A championship game during last year’s football playoffs. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Every game counts now.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association unveiled its football playoffs structure for the 2018 and 2019 seasons Wednesday. Among the changes is that all games — even non-district games — will be part of the formula in determining the postseason field.

That field will remain at 16 teams in each of the six classes: 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, A and 8-Player.

In the four largest classes, each district will consist of six teams. That means four non-district games and five district games for those teams.

The IHSAA will release classifications and district assignments Thursday. In the meantime, here are the mechanics on how the new format will work:

The classes

Class 4A: 42 teams. Seven districts of six teams each. Five district games, four non-district games.

Classes 3A, 2A and 1A: 54 teams. Nine districts of six teams each. Five district games, four non-district games.

Class A: 62 teams. Eight districts of six teams, two districts with seven teams. Six-team districts will play five district games and four non-district games. Seven-team districts will play six district games and three non-district games.

8-Player: 65 teams. Seven districts of eight teams, one district with nine teams. Eight-team districts will play seven district games and two non-district games. The nine-team district will play eight district games and one non-district game (Week Zero is possible).

Determining the playoff field

• Each class will have 16 qualifiers.

• District champions are automatic qualifiers.

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• The rest of the playoff field is determined by outcomes in ALL NINE GAMES, not just district games.

• The 17-point rule has been eliminated. Margin of victory/defeat is no longer a factor in determining the playoff field.

• At-large qualifiers will be determined by an Ratings Percentage Index (RPI formula), similar to what is used for determining NCAA basketball qualifiers.

How is RPI calculated?

There are three components:

• Winning percentage (37.5 percent)

• Opponents’ winning percentage (37.5 percent)

• Opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage (25 percent)

An RPI example

We’ll use last year’s figures for Alburnett and New London, since that was a hot topic when New London was issued a playoff berth as a Class A at-large and Alburnett was the first team left out. This is how the numbers would have looked at the conclusion of the regular season:

Win percentage (37.5 percent): Alburnett 7-2 (.778), New London 6-2 (.750).

Opponents’ win percentage (37.5 percent): Alburnett 39-42 (.481), New London 29-40 (.420).

Opponents’ opponents’ win percentage (25 percent): Alburnett 391-360 (.521), New London 286-314 (.476).

Alburnett RPI: (.778 x .375) + (.481 x .375) + (.521 x .250) = .6022

New London RPI: (.750 x .375) + (.420 x .375) + (.476 x .250) = .5581

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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