New IHSA football proposal seeks to increase football playoff field

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A copy of an Illinois high school football playoff proposal has been obtained by NBC Sports Chicago and EDGYTIM.com.

The football playoff proposal, which will be submitted soon on behalf of 28 different IHSA member schools located all across the state, is seeking to increased the current IHSA playoff field from 32 teams per class to 48 teams (or from 256 teams in the field to 348 teams) while also playing an eight week regular season, with Week 9 games being available for playoff qualifiers and non-playoff qualifiers. Also, this proposal would eliminate the recently-passed district scheduling system and revert back to the current conference scheduling system now in place.

This proposed change is expected to allow all teams with 3-6 records (and higher) to qualify for the IHSA football state playoff field. Ideally, this would take pressure off member schools to win five regular season games. The elimination of long-time conferences and traditional rivalry games under the district scheduling system would also be restored under this new proposal.

The district scheduling system has been seen by many as having several flaws including expenses and increased travel, along with taking no other factors into account except enrollment size and location.

My thoughts on this latest proposal?

It's no surprise that a counter proposal to the passed-IHSA district scheduling system, which was set to be in effect, for the 2021 season, has been presented. After district scheduling was passed, the overall feedback and reaction was negative, and the overall impact on schools was extreme, in some cases.

While adding more schools to the state playoff system might seem like a good idea, it also waters down the overall playoff field and generally takes away the importance of the nine-week regular season schedule. As for scheduling issues: While it is believed that scheduling -- under the new proposal -- would be eased, this system also issues no guarantee or solution to the many scheduling issues that still exist statewide.

This latest proposal? It's certainly not one I would like to see in place, but at least it addresses several key issues. Allowing schools to determine which is best for them via the conference system/travel are addressed. I come away with a feeling of this proposal being a bit better in some regards than the district scheduling plan, yet while also still not addressing several remaining issues still on the table.

This football playoff proposal is expected to be presented to the IHSA sometime next week.

 

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