Rogers, Over and Out
By Tim Rogers
Postseason Tournament seeds should be based on data, not coaches votes
It is time for Ohio high school basketball to undergo a major overhaul in the way teams are seeded for post-season play.
There, I said it. I can already hear the traditionalists having heart failure.
Change comes slowly in Ohio, whether it’s the Sunday Blue Law (Google it if you are unfamiliar) or right turns on red.
But, the present system of seeding teams for post-season play – strictly by a vote of the coaches — has got to go.
I fully understand that voting is a personal thing and coaches are free to vote however they like. Everyone has an opinion to which they are entitled.
But frequently, many coaches cast votes for the wrong reasons. Some on purpose; some because they just don’t know any better. Frequently, they have failed to do any homework.
Rather than voting for a deserving team they vote for their coaching buddies. Or, they vote on name recognition. Or, they will vote for a certain team in hopes of drumming up support for their program. They vote along league lines.
All too frequently, they fail to acknowledge a team’s accomplishments. A team with a 14-8 record against a schedule of heavyweights commonly receives less support (fewer votes) than a team that has compiled a 20-2 record against a schedule of cupcakes.
I know some coaches who would rather slit their wrists than vote for a private school. I know others that have refused to vote for a certain team simply because they don’t care for its coach.
A computer ranking would eliminate all that.
Recently it has come to light that the seeding process for the blended Division I sectional/district tournaments in Northeast Ohio will be conducted on-line. That is a wonderful idea. It avoids the sometimes tedious, two-hour meetings that lead up to the eventual pairings.
By voting on-line, the seedings will be determined by the time the coaches assemble at Copley High on February 15 to determine the pairings. (By the way, I find pairings day much more interesting than national signing day. Always have.)
You can do just about anything using a computer.
You can shop, file your taxes, schedule medical appointments, learn how to bake a cake, make a bomb, fix a flat, cook a turkey, watch cartoons, rant, write letters and check the weather.
Almost 45 years ago the Ohio High School Athletic Association decided it would use a computer program to determine the schools that would qualify for the football playoffs. It has been a magnificent success. The system has been fine-tuned as the playoffs expanded.
Any change in the sectional/district tournaments must be initiated by the respective district athletic boards. That’s how business is done in Ohio, from the ground floor up. It is time for those boards to adopt a similar method to determine the seedings in boys and girls basketball.
The OHSAA loves nothing more than uniformity. The computer system works in football. Why can’t it work in basketball? Why can’t it work in all real team sports?
I see no reason why the Harbin Ratings System, the one used to determine playoff qualifiers in football, or something similar cannot be put in place. There has to be a computer whiz out there capable of designing a program to fit Ohio’s needs.
In fact, there is a similar program out there. It is called the Freeman Rankings, named after creator Ned Freeman. A Californian, Freeman was a talented player at Sir Francis Drake High, near San Francisco. He also happened to be a math whiz. He combined the two interests and came up with his ranking system. He works with MaxPreps and that’s an issue because not every basketball-playing high school in America reports their scores to MaxPreps. But that is a problem easily avoided.
I would like the OHSAA to investigate the Freeman Rankings. I would like the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association to look into it as well.
I was alerted to the Freeman Rankings by Tuscarawas Central Catholic coach Tyrone Miller. Like many coaches, Miller is upset that his team has been ignored in the Associated Press state poll. The Saints are a Division IV school but are MIA when it comes to the state rankings, despite splitting two games with fifth-ranked Berlin Hiland and being on the wrong end of a 10-point game with Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, ranked 10th in Division III.
But, TCC is ranked 10th in the Freeman Rankings.
I am not calling for the end of the AP poll, even though just as many media members are guilty of voter fraud, so to speak. They fail to research results on a weekly basis. Too frequently they vote for the schools they cover, ignoring the other 99.9% of the state.
Certainly, anyone with a laptop can publish a poll, be it local, regional or state-wide. A poll is nothing more than some guy’s opinion. The bottom line is that polls no longer carry the same reward they did in the days before the 3-point line.
But, a computerized ranking system is different. A computerized ranking system, which incorporates the same elements incorporated in the football ranking system, would mean something.
Freeman ranks every school in practically every state. He ranks them by division and by league. There are 800 Ohio schools in the current rankings.
By most accounts, the blended, 28-team Canton/Copley sectional district voting will unfold with either Massillon Jackson or Canton Timken being seeded first or second. Green, Walsh Jesuit (both undefeated as of Monday), Uniontown Lake, Hudson, Ellet, Medina, Wadsworth and Highland rounding out the top 10.
If the season ended today, the Freeman Rankings would look like this: 1. Jackson; 2, Green; 3. Walsh Jesuit; 4. Timken, 5. Hudson, 6. Lake; 7. Wooster; 8. Medina; 9. Ellet; 10. Massillon.
The top 10 in the 26-team blended Brecksville/Midview tournament would be 1. Lakewood St. Edward; 2. Lorain; 3. St. Ignatius; 4. Brunswick; 5. Brecksville; 6. Elyria; 7. Berea-Midpark; 8. Avon; 9. Rhodes; 10. North Olmsted.
The 26-team Euclid/Solon top 10 would include 1. Garfield Heights; 2. Shaker Heights; 3. Warren Harding; 4. Mentor; 5. Bedford; 6. Cleveland East Tech; 7. Kenston; 8. Brush; 9. Cleveland Heights; 10. Willoughby South.
Obviously, all that can change by February 15th.
I suspect this idea will be met with opposition and will quickly be dismissed by many. Of course, there were many who felt man would never be able to fly.