2A State Football Playoffs To Be Seeded Using RPI

The IHSAA Board of Directors has approved a move to a seeded model for the 2A and, potentially 3A, state football tournaments.

By: Matt Harris
Published: 4/11/2018 1:18:22 PM
Follow Matt on Twitter: @IdahoSportsMatt

Know what the 3 letters "RPI" mean?

If not, better read up on it - it's going to be a part of the high school sports vocabulary in Idaho for the foreseeable future.

The Idaho High School Activities Association's Board of Directors approved a proposal made by 2A and 3A football coaches throughout the state to eliminate the use of a pre-determined bracket and instead move to a seeded bracket. A customized "RPI" (Ratings Percentage Index) will be used to seed the state tournament.

The 2A classification will begin using RPI and seeding the state bracket during the upcoming 2018 season. The 3A classification will follow suit beginning in the 2019 season should the 2A bracket in 2018 work well.

The question now being asked by fans - what is RPI?

It uses winning percentages to determine rankings based on three factors: your team's own winning percentage (WP), your opponents' winning percentage (OWP), and your opponents' opponents winning percentage (OOWP).

Each factor in the formula carries a 'weight'. In the formula that Idaho will be using, the three factors listed above will play a role in determining a team's ranking (known as a composite score). It goes as follows:

37.5% of a team's winning percentage
37.5% of a team's opponents winning percentage
25.0% of a team's opponents' opponents winning percentage.

There is one other factor included in the formula, which focuses on games played against higher and lower classification opponents. It's called the "cross-classification weight" and it is set at 15%. What does that mean? For example, if a 2A school plays and beats a 3A school it would mean that the win would be worth 15% more to their final composite score than a win over a 2A school. Instead of it being one win, it would be worth 1.15 wins in the formula. Conversely, if a 3A school plays and beats a 2A school it would mean that the win would be worth 15% less to their final composite score - instead of it being one win, it would be worth 0.85 wins in the formula.

Margin of victory is not accounted for in this formula, quelling concerns from those who were afraid that running up the score would become commonplace.

My friend Dayton Robison and I ran an experiment to see what the 2017 football playoffs would look like if they had been seeded using RPI. You can read more about that experiment and see the brackets by clicking HERE. For reference, we also did the same thing for the girls and boys state basketball tournaments, as can be seen HERE.

The 2A tournament will remain a 16-team tournament, but there will only be 13 automatic bids. That means that three at-large berths are available to the tournament, which will be given to the three teams that have the highest RPI ranking without an automatic bid. This should prevent one-win or no-win teams from qualifying for the playoffs.

Potential travel costs have been brought up as an issue, so in order to mitigate those concerns, the IHSAA will use the first round of the playoffs as a regional round. That means that teams in Districts 1, 2, and 3 will be seeded into games against each other, as will teams from Districts 4, 5, and 6. Following the regional round, the eight teams that remain will then be re-seeded according to the RPI, meaning that the highest ranked team remaining will play the lowest ranked team remaining, and so on.

The RPI will affect the 3A classification this year, albeit in a smaller way. In previous seasons, the at-large bid available has been determined by the highest MaxPreps ranking at the end of the regular season for schools that have not secured an automatic berth. This season, 3A will use the RPI to determine that at-large bid.

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