OSN Time Out: 2020 Playoffs
Josh Callaway October 22nd, 2020
The Oklahoma High School Football Playoffs got a makeover.
Last week on the OSN Time Out, we discussed the possibility of playoff expansion and the potential of allowing every single school a shot at the postseason. It was a rumor that had been floating around as a possibility so it had enough merit to discuss further.
This week it became official – EVERY SINGLE team in Oklahoma high school football has a shot to win a championship in 2020.
You aren’t misreading this, it is reality.
While it does sound crazy, and it is to an extent, this only actually adds one week onto the season in each class. So, it isn’t as much of a logistical nightmare as it might seem at face value.
Today, let’s go through some of the highlights of the changes and try to best explain just exactly how this is going to work.
First off, yes, every single team is making the playoffs this season IF they so choose. What I mean by that is that schools have the right to opt-out of the “Play-In” round if they don’t want to participate.
That may happen here and there but I can’t imagine that’ll be too common – most of these schools jump at practically any chance to play a game.
This means we will have 32-team brackets at some levels and even 64-team brackets at some of the lower levels. It will be a sight to behold when that bracket is filled in and ready to be played out.
Secondly, how the seeding works is going to be much different than normal as well – for it will not just be straight district standings in districts that did not complete all of their games (which is a lot of them).
The coaches of the teams will be filling out a poll each week ranking the teams in their district starting after the completion of Week 8’s games.
At the end of the season, that is what will be used to seed the teams for the postseason.
Obviously, a lot of faith has been put into the coaches here to rank the teams honestly and how they see fit – and I’d like to think that’ll work out just fine.
Another big question with the playoffs all year long, and one that I posed last week here on the OSN Time Out, is what would be done in the situation of a team having an outbreak in the postseason.
Obviously, it seemed unrealistic to expect the games to somehow be made up – and the OSSAA sees it that way too.
If a team has an outbreak, prior to the state championship game, that team is simply eliminated.
It is a harsh move, but frankly one I don’t see much of any other way around. A team being unable to play for two weeks would have no way to continue because the whole process can’t be put on hold for one school.
Should one of the teams set to play in a championship game have an outbreak, the OSSAA will address that if and when it happens.
The very interesting wrinkle with this is that if a team is eliminated due to a COVID-19 outbreak on their team, then the team they beat in the previous round can REPLACE them in the current round.
For example, Team A and Team B are playing in the first round and Team A wins to move on and play Team C in the second round.
If Team A has an outbreak and can’t play, then Team B will be allowed to take their place and take on Team C in the second round.
Essentially, there is a path to advancing in the playoffs even after a loss. We all knew this year would be weird – that happening might just be the perfect cherry on top.
That rule does not apply to the championship game.
There are more small changes as well but one last little thing I want to touch on is the ability of schools to fulfill their 10-game schedules.
If a school is eliminated short of playing a full 10-game season, they may choose to pick up and play a game against another eliminated school if they wanted to do so.
This obviously doesn’t affect anything other than team records and stats, but this feels like a smart move by the OSSAA to allow the schools and players the opportunity to play more games if they want.
Personally, if I had to guess, I would say there are definitely some schools who will take advantage of that rule and look to play another game after they are eliminated if they are still short of ten games.
These kids and coaches more than anything all year have just wanted the opportunity to play, the OSSAA is without question giving them that chance with this format.
Are there holes in this plan? Of course. Is it imperfect? Obviously.
But it’s 2020, literally nothing has been perfect.
Truthfully, I believe the OSSAA did a good job here doing the most with what they have been dealt this season.
The purists will look at this as a “participation trophy” type of move to allow every school into the playoffs, but it was done purely as a way to ensure a fair and legitimate path to a title for every school.
Things will go back to normal for next season (we hope), so just embrace this crazy postseason the one year it is here.
Nobody will forget this season, and these playoffs are just ensuring that even more so.
For more on the newly expanded playoffs as well as the newly-formed postseason brackets, head over to the OSSAA’s website.
Be sure to stick with the Oklahoma Sports Network down the stretch of the season for great live games every week as well as updates on the season’s latest going into the playoffs here with the OSN Time Out.