New Format In Place For 2014 Iowa High School Football Playoffs
The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has implemented a change to the football playoffs format, starting in 2014.
When the post-season begins on Wednesday, October 29th, there will no-longer be a playoff bracket for the 192 qualifiers in the six-class field. Teams travelling for first-round games will be limited to a distance no greater than 125 miles. The travel restriction applies to all teams, except those in Class-4A, for first-round playoff games only.
IHSAA Assistant Executive Director Todd Tharp, the administrator in charge of football, said another change made to the playoff qualifying format is the elimination of teams from neighboring districts playing each other in the first two rounds.
As an example, Tharp explained that the champion from, say, District One, could face the fourth-place finisher from District Five in the opening round. The second-place team from District One might play the third-place qualifier from, say, District Three. The change in format means that district opponents could meet in the first- or second-rounds of the playoffs, Tharp said.
Each of the past four years, the playoff structure in each class was set up so the champion -- or No. 1 seed -- from, say, District One would play the fourth-place team from District Two in the opening round. The third- and fourth-place teams from those districts also would square-off.
The change to the playoff format was approved by the IHSAA's Board of Control in January. The new structure creates some intrigue to the playoffs because the pairings in each class will be reset after every round is complete, from the opening game to the semifinals.
Tharp said schools will have to be a little more creative regarding how they are going to get some of their film exchange done and how they are going to have to prepare for the next opponents.
Under the old format, some teams were travelling more than two hours on a school night to play first-round games. According to Tharp, the long trips were forcing districts to dismiss classes early on that Wednesday and, in some cases, start late on Thursday.
The IHSAA established the 125-mile travel restriction after hearing from school administrators who were concerned about students missing class time to play or attend those games on a Wednesday night, Tharp said.
Tharp doesn't anticipate any problems with the new playoff format, but said the IHSAA's playoff advisory committee will evaluate the change after the post-season is complete. The committee plans to look at what can be done to improve the playoffs in 2015.
The 2014 regular-season ends on Friday with half of Iowa's 346 high school football teams qualifying for the playoffs. Tharp says the IHSAA hopes to announce the qualifiers before midnight on Friday. First-round pairings, however, likely won't be determined until around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Here is the full interview: