Would-be Playoff 2002
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Would-be Playoff 2002

Boo-who-who, your school has a snowballs chance to make it to the state finals because the IHSA had to go and do their stupid regional playoff format. Well lets face it, if it wasn't for the IHSA adding two more classes, there's a good chance your team wouldn't even be there.

Since the IHSA decided to go to an 8 class playoff system, fans from Anna-Jonesburg to Zion-Benton have been up in arms about having a watered down post season. And while adding another round to the playoff was crazier than adding 2 more classes, some people seem to think the new Regional quadrant format the IHSA is going with is the nuttiest of them all. I'm with those guys.

While, the 8 class system has allowed for better season matchups, since teams aren't as worried about being a bubble team at 6-3 anymore, likes those between Morris vs. Pontiac, Geneseo vs. Metamora, or Joliet Catholic vs. Rockhurst, K.C. The only thing a regional format brings is early matchups in the playoffs between good teams and a possible dud of a finals game.

The format would be ideal if you crowned a North & South Champ in each class (like a the Prep Bowl does with the Catholic & Public Champs), but there is no such crown. So the only thing this new format ensures is that regional rivalries get a chance for post season bragging rights. It also allows a Joliet Catholic & Morris type matchup that will bring in more revenue in either of those respected towns than it would if they had to travel to Champaign.

One other thing that it does, is ensures that, unlike Florida & Texas, ESPN will never have any interest in putting any of the Illinois state finals' games on the air. Which would probably make the IHSA more cash than regionalizing the playoffs does. Until the IHSA gets it playoff system in sync, don't expect to see your team on ESPN 2 anytime soon. Meanwhile I'll be cheering on San Antonio (Marshall) from the comfort of my Chicago apartment on Christmas Eve.

The IHSA has said, it's not in the business of making sure the two best teams meet in the finals, just that the best team gets the trophy. While this point cannot be argued with, a system where all the undefeated teams can end up in one bracket is ludicrous.

What the IHSA should make sure it's in the business of is, giving the kids who play it's sports a fair chance to make it as far as they should.

Football is the only IHSA playoff that is done by seeding and with good reason. It's also the only IHSA playoff you need to qualify for. Making it like basketball or soccer, is as insane as playing 20-30 football games a season. Yes, 5-4 & 4-5 teams will end up traveling 200 miles sometimes, but if the principles of those schools think their teams are just going to lose, so there's no use in traveling that far. Can I just say they have a thing called a forfeit. And look, there's another thing called the phone.


By Vincent Johnson

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