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Time for D-10 to think about re-seeding

We’re approaching the end of my third fall season back with the Times Observer.

I’ve noticed a lot of things in that time. Most of it pretty good, some not so much. I’ve opined on most of them.

Then there was what I heard last week. It wasn’t good or bad, per se, more so one of those, “wait, what?” moments.

During a radio interview last week with Bob Greenburg, District 10 Chairman Pete Iacino touched on a number of topics. The benefits and drawbacks of six classes, new PIAA transfer rules and the fall playoffs.

About 15 minutes or so into the interview, Greenburg touched on a topic that piqued my interest. He asked Iacino why, following opt-outs, the district doesn’t reseed the brackets to avoid excessive byes.

“The way we’re structured right now, the brackets are static,” Iacino said. “Meaning, the brackets are prepositioned depending on where you finish in your region. So, if somebody opts-out, that becomes an open slot. Usually, it’s the lower part of somebody’s region (opting out) so the upper part of another region is going to get the benefit of that.”

Ok, I guess. I understand what he’s saying, but even with that mentality, there have still been a number of instances where teams have essentially received a bye into the district championship game. Wilmington football and Warren girls soccer this season alone entered the championship without playing a single playoff game. In Warren’s bracket, there are only three teams, so even a re-seed would have led to one team reaching the title game on a bye.

Wilmington’s bracket is another story altogether.

The undefeated Greyhounds got a bye into the Class 2A title game based on a first-round bye, then both teams on their side of the bracket opting out. On the other side of the bracket, Greenville made it to the semifinals thanks to an opt-out, while Northwestern and Lakeview had to play each other Saturday for the right to face the Trojans.

The simple solution is to re-seed, right? Not so fast, Iacino cautioned.

“So what do I do with (Greenville), leave them where they are because it was a predetermined bracket,” he asked. “Who do I tell them to play? Where do I put them? Now it’s an arbitrary decision on my part if I move them.

“There are no arbitrary decisions made on brackets the way we do them now,” Iacino continued. “There’s not backroom discussions going on where people go in the bracket. It doesn’t make any sense to do that.”

Wait, what? It doesn’t make any sense to re-seed?

It certainly makes sense, and clearly people are wondering about it if the topic was worth broaching in the interview. Sure, it’s often the top teams that benefit, but there have been other times when the third-place team from a region has advanced to the semifinals or title game while the top seed from another region had to play first round, quarterfinal and semifinal games to play for a district title. Wouldn’t it make a ton of sense to reseed those brackets so that, if there are byes, they go to the teams who earned region titles? Wouldn’t that make the regular season even more meaningful?

I would think so.

Iacino had a different view on re-seeding and what goes into it.

“Now next time (the district discusses playoff changes), I may advocate back to the backroom,” he said. “That caused us a lot of problems. People accused everyone of bias and those kind of things and that’s why we got away from that. And I can understand why people felt that way. We want to be careful, want to be transparent in how teams qualify for the playoffs and secondly, if we do something different than we’re doing now (I think it would only affect football, I don’t think we need to change it in any other sport), what would it be, how would it be done?”

I agree, having backroom discussions about playoff teams and seedings is bad. But why in the world would the district need to adopt anything close to that method to reseed playoff brackets?

The simple solution is to re-seed based on record. If teams are tied use head-to-head as a tiebreaker, if they didn’t play each other in the regular season, go to a coin toss.

It wouldn’t take a lot of work, it’s fair and it’s transparent.

Iacino said he’d be open to discussing the possibility of re-seeding once the new classifications come out. Hopefully, District 10 will see this easy fix to a broken system and take the appropriate steps to repair it.

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