Time for a Change in Class 4A Playoffs

It is time to revamp the Class 4A playoffs and I got an idea on how to do it right. Maybe I should send it to the HSL and see what they think.

There has been a great deal of talk this week about the Class 4A football playoffs. Once again 2002 proved the first round of the Class 4A are completely a waste of time. For years the average margin of victory in the opening round has been in excess of 25 points. This year the fans have said enough and are staying away in droves.

 

Dorman averaged over 8,000 fans a game this regular season but less than 2000 showed up to watch the Cavaliers and Gamecocks battle in the first round of the playoffs. Likewise Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Summerville and Stratford had gates of less than average crowds. Of the 16 games played last week in Class 4A, only 4 were even remotely competitive. Only Dorman lost as a home team in Big 16 and only Richland Northeast, North Augusta and Dutch Fork in Division 2 lost as the home team and higher seeds. Only Mauldin's win over Dutch Fork could even be considered an upset.

 

The fans are making a statement and they are staying away or in my case finding a more competitive 3A game to attend.

 

So how do we fix it and how does the HSL make the Class 4A playoffs more attractive particularly in the early rounds. First off we have to concede the following points.

 

  1. There is never going to be a Class 5A in South Carolina

 

There are only 189 schools in South Carolina and each year there are fewer schools playing football in the state. 2002 saw fewer schools playing the game then at any time in the history of football in this state.

 

With the consolidation of schools, there will be fewer schools playing in the future. Class 1A is down to less than 40 schools playing football. If we went to a 5A system then we would have less than 36 schools in each class. The travel and geography are enough to keep this from ever happening not to mention the other sports.

 

We have had a 4A class system for 34 years and there is no way it is going away now.

 

  1. The HSL is never going to eliminate teams from the playoffs.

 

We have had 32 teams in the playoffs for 23 years and again this is not going to change. Coaches have hung on their resume the fact that they have qualified for the playoffs for X number of years and they don't want to give that away. Athletic Directors at the elite schools are giddy by the gates and money that a big game can draw. 32 out of 48 team is ridiculous but there is no way it is going to change either.

 

  1. Cross Bracketing

 

It is here to stay. After years of the Upper State dominating the Low Country in the state playoffs, there is no way that the coached from the old region 2 will agree to match up in the first round of the playoffs. The cross bracketing with all its problems is here to stay.

 

  1. There is a large discrepancy in Class 4A and it has to be addressed.

 

From Summerville at 3036 all the way down to White Knoll at 1299, there is a huge drop off in the number of students at 4A schools. Despite teams at the bottom of the 4A attendece line who perform well, there is just too much to overcome when a school a 263% bigger than you. For that reason and that reason alone we must continue make a distinction between a 3100 student school and a 1200 student school.

 

 

First off I would do the following to make the playoffs 100 times better.

  1. The Big 16 is history. No more automatic spots just because you have more students.
  2. The point system is bad……very bad and we will burn the thing in effigy. It is gone.
  3. We will take enrollment into account when setting the playoffs.
  4. We will still take 32 teams and have 2 state champions
  5. Games after the quarterfinal will be played on neutral grounds.

 

So here goes with the final standings from 2002 and how I would do the playoffs


 

 


REGION 1-AAAA

Greenwood      5-0       8-4      (3)

T.L. Hanna       4-1       11-1     (4)

Mauldin            3-2      6-6       (2)

Westside          2-3       4-7      (5)

Hillcrest            1-4       2-10    (1)

Easley              0-5       0-11    (6)

 

REGION 2-AAAA

Byrnes              5-0       11-1    (6)

Spartanburg      4-1         9-3     (2)

Laurens            3-2        7-5     (5)

Dorman            2-3        8-4     (1)

Boil Springs      1-4         4-7     (4)

Gaffney            0-5         2-10   (3)

 

REGION  3-AAAA

Rock Hill          5-0       12-0    (2)

Northwestern   4-1         9-2     (1)

Spring Valley    3-2         8-4     (4)

Ridgeview        2-3         4-8     (3)

Lancaster         1-4         3-8     (5)

Fort Mill           0-5         0-11   (6)

 

REGION  4-AAAA

Lexington         5-0       8-4       (1)

North Augusta  4-1       8-4       (5)

South Aiken     2-3       7-5       (6)

White Knoll      2-3       3-8       (2)

Or'burg-Wilk   1-4       4-6       (3)

Aiken               1-4       5-6       (4)

 

 

REGION  5-AAAA

Irmo                 5-0       11-0     (1)

Sumter             3-2       9-3      (2)

Richland NE     3-2       7-5      (4)

Dutch Fork       3-2       7-5      (3)

L Richland        1-4       3-8      (5)

Airport             0-5       0-11    (6)

 

REGION  6-AAAA

Marlboro Cty   5-0       9-2      (3)

Conway            4-1      10-2     (4)

Crestwood       3-2       6-6      (5)

Sou Florence    1-4       5-7      (2)

Hartsville          1-4       1-9      (6)

Socastee          1-4       4-7      (1)

 

REGION  7-AAAA

Stratford           5-0       12-0    (1)

Wando             4-1         8-4     (2)

Berkeley           3-2         9-3     (6)

James Island     2-3         5-7     (5)

West Ashley     1-4         2-10   (3)

Goose Creek    0-5         1-10   (4)

 

REGION  8-AAAA

Summerville      5-0       10-2    (1)

Colleton Coun  4-1         9-3     (3)

Battery Creek   3-2         7-5     (4)

Hilton Head      3-2         5-6     (5)

Ft. Dorchester  1-4         4-8     (2)

Beaufort           0-5         0-11   (6)

 

 


Notice the number in parenthesis. This is the rank of the school based on enrollment within each region. In other words, Dorman (1) is the largest school in Region 2 while Byrnes (6) is the smallest.

 

For the playoffs the Top 4 teams in the region will make the playoffs based on region record and then tiebreaker by overall record.

 

Of the 4 teams that qualify, the two schools with the largest enrollment will be placed in Division 1 playoffs, the other 2 schools will be placed in Division 2.

 

For example, in Region 2 these teams would qualify for the playoffs.

Byrnes              5-0       11-1    (6)

Spartanburg      4-1         9-3     (2)

Laurens            3-2        7-5     (5)

Dorman            2-3        8-4     (1)

 

Dorman (1) and Spartanburg (2) would be placed in Division 1

Byrnes (6) and Laurens (5) would be placed in Division 2.

Byrnes and Spartanburg would be Home teams based on their finish

 

In Region 6

Marlboro Cty   5-0       9-2      (3)

Conway            4-1      10-2     (4)

Crestwood       3-2       6-6      (5)

Sou Florence    1-4       5-7      (2)

 

Marlboro County and South Florence would be Division 1

Conway and Crestwood would be Division 2

Marlboro and Conway would be home teams

 

Division 1 Playoff Teams

REGION 1-AAAA

Greenwood      5-0       8-4      (3)

Mauldin            3-2      6-6       (2)

REGION 2-AAAA

Spartanburg      4-1         9-3     (2)

Dorman            2-3        8-4     (1)

REGION  3-AAAA

Rock Hill          5-0       12-0    (2)

Northwestern   4-1         9-2     (1)

REGION  4-AAAA

Lexington         5-0       8-4       (1)

White Knoll      2-3       3-8       (2)

REGION  5-AAAA

Irmo                 5-0       11-0     (1)

Sumter             3-2       9-3      (2)

REGION  6-AAAA

Marlboro Cty   5-0       9-2      (3)

Sou Florence    1-4       5-7      (2)

REGION  7-AAAA

Stratford           5-0       12-0    (1)

Wando             4-1         8-4     (2)

REGION  8-AAAA

Summerville      5-0       10-2    (1)

Colleton Coun  4-1         9-3     (3)

 

Division 2

REGION 1-AAAA

T.L. Hanna       4-1       11-1     (4)

Westside          2-3       4-7      (5)

REGION 2-AAAA

Byrnes              5-0       11-1    (6)

Laurens            3-2        7-5     (5)

REGION  3-AAAA

Spring Valley    3-2         8-4     (4)

Ridgeview        2-3         4-8     (3)

REGION  4-AAAA

North Augusta  4-1       8-4       (5)

South Aiken     2-3       7-5       (6)

REGION  5-AAAA

Richland NE     3-2       7-5      (4)

Dutch Fork       3-2       7-5      (3)

REGION  6-AAAA

Conway            4-1      10-2     (4)

Crestwood       3-2       6-6      (5)

REGION  7-AAAA

Berkeley           3-2         9-3     (6)

James Island     2-3         5-7     (5)

REGION  8-AAAA

Battery Creek   3-2         7-5     (4)

Hilton Head      3-2         5-6     (5)

 

The Next Step…….

Prior to the season, the HSL would draw which regions play each other; similar to the manner that the HSL currently uses in the other classes.

 

I drew lots to decide the regions and came up with the following teams and games.

1 vs 5

2 vs 7

3 vs 6

4 vs 8

 

The top team of the two in each division would be the home team and the other team the away team.

 

Division 1 Playoff Match Ups

Sumter              9-3     (2)   at   Greenwood       8-4     (3)

Wando             8-4     (2)   at   Spartanburg       9-3     (2)

So Florence      5-7     (2)   at   Rock Hill         12-0    (2)

Northwestern    9-2     (1)   at   Marlboro Cty    9-2     (3)

Colleton Cty     9-3     (3)   at  Lexington            8-4     (1)

Mauldin            6-6     (2)   at   Irmo                 11-0     (1)

Dorman            8-4     (1)   at   Stratford           12-0    (1)

White Knoll      3-8    (2)    at  Summerville       10-2    (1)

 

Division 2 Match ups

Dutch Fork       7-5      (3)   at  T.L. Hanna      11-1     (4)

James Island     5-7      (5)   at  Byrnes             11-1     (6)

Crestwood       6-6      (5)   at  Spring Valley     8-4     (4)

Hilton Head      5-6      (5)   at  No Augusta       8-4     (5)

Westside          4-7      (5)   at  Richland NE      7-5     (4)

Ridgeview        4-8      (3)   at  Conway           10-2     (4)

Laurens            7-5      (5)   at  Berkeley            9-3     (6)

South Aiken     7-5      (6)   at  Battery Creek    7-5     (4)

 

My system has 5 major advantages.

  1. No automatic bids. Bad teams from the Top 16 in enrollment get no free rides.
  2. Teams can be in Division 1 or Division 2 based on how the entire region plays.
  3. Match ups are still cross bracketed from the lower and upper state but they are not random and can even be eliminated if necessary.
  4. The region schedule becomes paramount and the games and results mean everything.
  5. NO more point system

 

I like this plan. I have been mulling over it for years. Different states use a plan similar to this especially in state like Texas and now Georgia. We could implement this plan and still have a large playoff, keep small and large schools apart, add a little variety and end the Big 16 and point system forever.

 


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