A coach’s idea on how to improve the CIAC football playoff system

In rather stark contrast, the 24 teams in the L class went 137-103 and a win ratio of .571.

Darien, who won the LL class title in 2021, falls into the L class.

Maloney, who won the Class L title in 2021, remains in Class L.

Four of the top six schools and five of eight in the final 2021 GameTimeCT survey are in Class L in 2022. Fairfield Prep is the only team in the LL class. Additionally, from New Canaan to Darien and St. Joseph to Shelton, the eye test indicates an overwhelming number of Class L teams among the traditional top 15 powers.

If the goal is to have the most top teams in a group of the biggest schools, then that’s nowhere near the case.

“Kind of ridiculous,” said Fairfield Ludlowe coach Mitch Ross. “Class L is harder to win this year than LL was last year before these changes. In the other divisions there are two or three (really strong) teams, that’s it, that will dominate for years. I just think if you want to make subdivisions they have to be based on more than absolute student numbers.

“It’s easy to bring some degree of fairness to the process, especially when city schools are treated fairly and recognize that school size is not the only factor determining which schools have a competitive advantage. It would also do a much better job of spreading competitive football across each division.

Thanksgiving high school football remains. There’s not enough sentiment to end the Connecticut tradition and revamp the entire football schedule.

To give more schools a shot at the state playoffs, CIAC is expanding the postseason this year from four classes and 32 teams to six classes and a record 48 teams. small state. Lots of playoff teams.

Those are the facts.

The variables? Which schools play in these playoff classes and the quality of games these teams play in the regular season.

Except for the “Schools of Choice” that have reached the semi-finals at least once in the past three seasons, CIAC splits classes evenly by enrollment.

CIAC honchos can argue until they’re blue in the face, but the truth is that their all-sports playoff model isn’t the best possible. As long as Catholic schools are not in their own league and technical schools are counted equally, it remains a flawed paradigm. Even if St. Joe’s had risen to the top, it would be playing LL in a much easier division this year. A more holistic approach needs to be taken.

Ross, a Harvard and Tufts grad, isn’t just the football coach at a Grade L school. He is also a dermatologist. And – may the American Academy of Dermatology forgive me – Dr. Ross went above and beyond with some persuasive arguments to level the playing field.

Enrollment would still be used as the basis for classification, but boy enrollment would be subject to multipliers based on how many CIAC schools are in a city or municipality.

Mandate each team to play at least three games outside of conference to qualify for the state playoffs, continuing the strong scheduling bonus introduced last year.

Under Ross’s multiplier, schools of your choice – or, more specifically, private schools – would count as enrollment x 2.

A school in a city with a CIAC school would have their enrollment x 1; a school in a city with two CIAC teams: enrollment x 0.8. One with three CIAC teams: enrollment x 0.7; One with 4 CIAC teams: enrollment x 0.6; One with five or more CIAC teams: enrollment x 0.5.

Ross isn’t married to the exact multipliers. He makes them available as a roadmap that could be tinkered with in the years to come.

“You must feel bad for the city schools,” Ross said. “They are a large student population facing different challenges. You are in L or LL and hardly have a chance. There is no level playing field.

“This would help Hartford schools. It would help Bridgeport schools. You had a chance. Give them a shot, say, M class. The city schools are losing a ton to private schools (CIAC and prep).

In addition, you know year after year who the good teams will be. Many are one-city schools with excellent youth football programs and a unique purpose. Coaching can have a big impact, but if you look at the city and the predictable schedule, you can see success coming.

Now consider LL. There are last year Stamford 1-9, Westhill 0-10, Bridgeport Central 0-10, Wilbur Cross 2-8. you get the picture

Schools of choice, by CIAC standards, include those with Vo-AG programs, Tech schools, and Catholic schools all under one roof.

“It’s one thing to have an agricultural school like Trumbull and to have a school that has kids from so many cities,” Ross said. “Private schools subject their student bodies to completely different policies, but CIAC doesn’t seem interested in having them in their own conference. Even at Fairfield with Ludlowe and Warde we’re being torn apart.”

St. Joseph of Trumbull, for example, has students from 36 cities and towns. According to athletic director Kevin Butler, the seven who made up the bulk of the football team last season were: Shelton at 19; Stratford 16; Norway 11; Milford 10; bridge port 7; Fairfield 6; Trumpet 5

That is a school. Fairfield Prep, Xavier, Notre Dame-West Haven, Notre Dame-Fairfield, East Catholic, Northwest Catholic, etc. all have their own geographic appeal.

“The private schools say they don’t recruit,” Ross said. “Good. Fine. Spare me. The student population should be counted differently. If you want to be fair, then the multiplier should be counted double if you receive tuition for more than 2 percent of your student body.

“The average college tuition of your beginning soccer player versus the average college tuition of your student body — I would 100 percent guarantee that the average beginning soccer player’s college tuition is much lower.”

Ross said he knows a lot of people don’t like extended playoffs. As a coach, he does. He looks at other sports where if you win 40 percent of your games you qualify for the state playoffs. He argues that 7-3 should get you into football, but the schedule and divisions must be fair and balanced.

“Maybe the bigger classes should be smaller,” Ross said. “Let’s say 20 each for LL and L and 25 for the smaller classes that don’t have as many good teams.”

Ross has been preaching for some time that the CIAC requires every team to play at least three games outside of the conference. Otherwise, he points out, the strictness-of-schedule component won’t work.

“If a conference doesn’t want a part of it, that’s fine, but then you don’t qualify for the playoffs,” Ross said. “You don’t have to force anyone. Take a (tech) team that’s 10-0, has a great season, everyone’s excited, and getting thrashed in the first round of the playoffs. Why do we do this year after year? They could do their own playoffs and allow a couple of 7-3 teams, which is how it should be.”

Ross said schools at the FCIAC meeting are open to getting more games out of the conference.

“We talked,” he said. “We don’t care which weeks. We like to play. Bottom line, no one wants to play Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich, and St. Joseph. Even getting two games is a struggle.

“There are teams that are brave. Fairfield Prep and Xavier will play, but there are a lot of teams that don’t want a stake in these guys. When there was a government mandate, teams couldn’t play shy.”

Ross is open to four non-conference games. Bad conferences that play easy games shouldn’t be rewarded, he argues.

“A tight schedule only works when there are games between conferences,” Ross said. “And when you get enough bonuses for losses to good teams, it encourages teams to play outside of their conference. The goal should be games that are as fair as possible.”

jeff.jacobs@hearstmediat.com; @jeffjacobs123

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