I never was good at math — I played flick football during high school algebra — so I don’t pretend to understand how MaxPreps determines the football playoff seedings.
But I’ve seen most of the top teams in Division I this season and there’s still a little common sense in this old brain, so I feel comfortable with the following conclusion:
The formula — whatever it is — works.
Here are the top 10 teams in Division I heading into Friday’s games:
Mesa Desert Ridge, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, Chandler Hamilton, Phoenix Brophy Prep, Phoenix Pinnacle, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, Mesa Mountain View, Phoenix Desert Vista, Mesa Red Mountain and Gilbert Highland.
Could I quibble? Sure. I don’t believe Pinnacle is the fifth-best team in the state, and I’d put Desert Vista ahead of Mountain View and Desert Mountain. I might also dispute Desert Ridge being two spots ahead of Hamilton when Hamilton beat Desert Ridge 34-14.
But that’s nitpicking. By and large, whatever numbers MaxPreps is throwing into its computer is spitting out the right teams in — for the most part — the right order. Coaches, of course, will still complain. (It’s part of their DNA). They wonder if margin of victory is considered, even though MaxPreps and the Arizona Interscholastic Association insists it isn’t, they’re peeved that the formula was changed midway through this two-year scheduling block and they’re upset about the initial lack of transparency from the AIA.
The last two are legitimate gripes but old news. It’s time to move on.
Even those who strenuously object to each section receiving three automatic bids will have a hard time mustering any outrage this year.
If the season ended today, Surprise Valley Vista (6-1), Avondale Westview (5-2) and Yuma Cibola (4-3) would represent Section I. Neither Westview nor Cibola is among the top 16 seeds in Division I; Westview is 19th and Cibola 23rd. By virtue of their automatic invites, they would knock out No. 15 Anthem Boulder Creek and No. 16 Tucson Sunnyside.
Would Cibola beat either Boulder Creek or Sunnyside on a neutral field? Probably not. But it’s not as if any of the lower seeds are real threats to win the state championship — or even get out of the first round.
No. 10 Highland might scream and shout if it loses two of its final three games — it has to play Mountain View and Red Mountain — finishes 6-4 and is bumped by a lower-seeded team. In that scenario, however, Highland’s lone quality win would be over Desert Mountain. At best, it would be a fringe playoff team.
The best news? In the two-year block beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the seedings will make even more sense.
The proposal put forward by the computer scheduling committee will create more sections in each division. Let’s say, after the appeals process is finalized, 36 teams remain in Division I football. The division could then be broken down into six sections of six teams apiece. Each section champion would receive an automatic bid, and there would be 10 at-large teams.
It could be seven sections, seven champions and nine at-large bids. Either way, the proposal will strike a balance in making sure the best teams in less affluent areas — Yuma, Tucson, even parts of the West Valley and south-central Phoenix — will be rewarded as well as the strongest teams in the East Valley.
“I think it’s very fair,” said Mesa Public Schools athletic director Steve Hogen, who sits on the committee. “That’s why I like where we’re going next year.
There never will be unanimous consent when it comes to playoff seedings. It’s like the BCS: Everyone has an opinion, and those opinions often don’t agree with the computer. And yes, there will be years when qualified teams are left out of the postseason.
But it’s time for athletic directors, coaches, players, fans — heck, even the media — to accept that the MaxPreps formula is working as intended and the computer scheduling’s proposal will complement those rankings.
That’s all the math for today.
Back to flick football.
Reach Bordow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow