May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

New CIF football playoff system, after one-year delay, ready to go for next season

CIF Southern Section officials are getting ready to utilize a new playoff system for football, which had been scheduled to be used last year before the coronavirus pandemic put the plan on hold, according to CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod.

The system will be used for the 2021 season and based on competition during the regular season. In past years, teams have been grouped into playoff divisions based on their past year’s records.

“I’m really excited, I’m sorry it’s a year late,” Wigod said in an interview Thursday with OC Sports Zone, which also ran a detailed story wrapping up the high school sports season. Please click here for the full story.

“We were really looking forward to that and we’re really looking forward to it because we really believe it’s going to be the most accurate way to place our teams into the appropriate divisions for championship playoffs and using the current regular season and only that current regular season to rank teams and then to formulate divisions and playoff brackets, we just think that’s about the most pure system you could have.”

The system would have been used last year, but due to the pandemic, the abbreviated season was postponed until March with no CIF playoffs.

“So we’re excited to see it roll out and actually happen,” Wigod said. “We did a little mock brackets for this year but those numbers with only five or six games, mostly if not all league games, that wasn’t going to be a tremendously accurate picture. Obviously there will be a lot of work at the end of the regular season when we get all the results and apply that to all the divisions and then see it roll out there and actually happen on the field.”

Wigod said there are many benefits to the plan.

“I think it’s the most accurate system that we can have,” he said. “We’re not relying on previous year’s performance. For example, it would account for a great program that had a great run of success with a group of seniors that have graduated. Well sometimes, using previous data, they’re in a higher division than they probably should be. Those kids have all graduated and moved on and they’re kind of in a rebuilding mode.

“On the other end, you have cases and schools where significant transfers come in and they can affect a program’s success. The program hasn’t maybe been as good, but they’ve gotten two or three key players to the program and now that program is better, so it accounts for that. We hope with football as an example we can then branch out into other sports and do the same thing.”

“It’s a culture change, people are used to knowing your divisions before the season starts. They’re not going to know those divisions until the playoff brackets are released and that’s a little bit of a different environment, but I think people will realize it’s going to be a lot more fair that way and we will just build on what we’ve already had. I think there will be a lot of interest on how this will play out this upcoming season.

“They will be ranked in order and seeded in order. When there are 16 teams in a bracket, number one will play 16 and two will play 15 and onward through the bracket.”

Wigod added there will be weekly rankings made by Calpreps.

“When we get to week 10 and all the regular season games are over, those will be the final rankings, divisions will be formed and brackets will be made based on the rankings and the divisions,” he said.

Rankings will take into account a team’s regular season schedule, strength of schedule, league schedule and strength of league teams are in, Wigod said.

“Those rankings are going to be important for the placement of those match-ups and it’s going to be based on factors that should be accurate in those rankings and it should have the right match-ups.”

Week zero games are scheduled to begin Aug. 20. For more on the start of the season, click here.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportzone.com