UIL looks at expanding playoff field

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, June 23, 2012

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The playoffs in Class 3A and 2A could expand to four teams advancing out of each district in every team sport.

After a poll of superintendents in the two classifications showed that most favored adding a playoff team, the University Interscholastic League’s Standing Committee last week forwarded the matter to the agency’s Legislative Council to consider in October.

UIL spokesperson Chris Schmidt said the earliest the measure could go into effect is the 2013-14 school year.

Class 4A and 5A currently send four teams from each district to the postseason. In a recent survey, 3A superintendents voted 67-43 to join them. The 2A superintendents favored the move 97-66. Class A officials voted down the measure 153-106.

Most Wise County athletic directors favored the move.

“We voted for it,” said Decatur’s Kyle Story. “The more people involved in the playoffs is better. It’s a good experience for the kids, and it’s good for the school.

“A lot of the 3A schools are in five-team leagues and with four of the five getting to the playoffs it does water it down. But the positives outweigh watering it down.”

Boyd’s Brandon Hopkins added: “They are doing it at the 5A and 4A level and filtering it down is a good idea. It may water it down, but in the end it’ll weed itself down. If you are not good enough, you’ll get beat early. Some districts are not tough, but some others the third and fourth-place teams are really good.”

The addition of a fourth team will eliminate the byes in the first round of the playoffs that allowed district champions to advance to the area round.

Many of the athletic directors do not like the byes.

“I’m all for [the expansion] if it takes away all the byes,” said Paradise’s Danny Neighbors. “If you are in a district with an odd number of teams, you could have a bye for the 10th game and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.”

Alvord’s Curtis Enis added: “When we went to two teams there were no byes. I didn’t like going to three. We should have went to four then. I thought it hurt the team that had the bye.”

With the current construction of Class 3A that features many five-team leagues, Bridgeport’s Danny Henson does not favor adding a fourth playoff team.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea with four out of five teams making the playoffs,” Henson said. “In 5A and 4A, where most of the district have eight teams, it’s a good idea. You finish fourth in an eight-team league, you’ve accomplished something. But in a five-team district, the fourth-place team shouldn’t go to the playoffs.

“There needs to be some specialness to making the playoffs. I’m afraid this will make getting to the playoffs no big deal.”

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