MPSSAA playoff format still leaves many questions

May 27, 2003|By TIM KOELBLE

I had to chuckle when the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced the expansion of the high school football playoffs for the 2003 season.

On the MPSSAA Web site, two of the items listed under the "Outcome" section were elimination of extensive travel and statewide representation in the state tournament.

The increase from 32 to 64 teams qualifying for the state tournament is not a problem in terms of an overall number, with 16 schools in each of the four divisions getting a postseason position.

Under this plan, the state will have the top four teams from each of the four regions from the four classifications.


Therefore, a team could possibly go 10-0, 9-1 or 8-2 and finish fifth in a region but still not qualify under this format.

And the state is worried about equal representation in the state tournament?


This state is small enough that you do not need to have four classifications and four regions.

I agree with North coach Danny Cunningham, who made the comment of pointing toward a plan such as West Virginia, where 16 teams in each class make the playoffs without regional consideration.

Put in a standard computerized system, use a bi-level point system (such as the effective one in Ohio for more than 700 schools) and let the chips fall where they may.

If there is one area of the state that consistently gets to the finals, so be it. It's nonsense that an association try to regulate the qualifying participants in the finals.

Despite the regional considerations, travel won't be any less cumbersome this year than in the past.

And it is time for the MPSSAA to get rid of the home-field advantage after the first round, and I even waver on that one a tad. Using neutral sites from the get-go is how to help cut down on travel, not a two-hour bus ride for one school and nothing for the opponent.

Random jottings

- Speaking of expansion, the MVAL has its own with three new conferences and 12 new teams. We'll see how this one plays out on the field of competition in all sports.

The conferences were supposedly set primarily on enrollment figures, but don't tell Tuscarora or Liberty and even North Hagerstown. If it were based solely on enrollment, North would be in the big Chesapeake, Tuscarora in the small Antietam and Liberty in the mid-size Piedmont.

Things will go on, changes will be made, and we'll see how the new MVAL handles its problems and growth.

- I wasn't in favor of Annika Sorenstam playing on the PGA Tour. However, I will say I was impressed with her composure Thursday from the first tee on. In fact, I even hoped she would make the cut. Asked if she would try it again, she let it be known she was going to go back to where (LPGA) she belongs. I actually enjoyed watching her during the two rounds.

Did anyone really care that Vijay Singh withdrew?

- Well, Cleveland will be rocking June 26 when the official NBA draft is held. How fortunate for the Cavaliers they got the No. 1 lottery pick.

Didn't you at least think "fix" to yourself at little bit?

LeBron James says he's already looking forward to being in the Wine and Gold uniform, just 40 miles from his home. I'm sure Cleveland officials are also, since James' presence will fill the usually desolate Gund Arena. Will James make the Cavaliers better? Even if they win one more than this year, they will be better, but it will take some time for James to earn his contract dollars, whatever it ends up being.

- Did you notice the record NCAA crowd for the lacrosse semifinals on Saturday? What was it? 34,000? And earlier in the week 6,000 were at the MIAA Private League lacrosse finals in Towson at Unitas Stadium. High school football should only wish ... in this state.

- Played in a foursome last week at Black Rock with colleague Dan Kauffman and correspondent Curt Hornbecker. We lost a first-place tie on a rather unique alternate point system, but nonetheless had great fun. Gotta tell ya, Kauffman delivered a long-drive award on 16 in the mist with a cork-screwing, banana-shaped drive that stayed in the fairway, although yours truly might have actually had the edge. If you ever play with Kauffman, don't let him tell you he is as bad as he says he is.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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