The Ratings Percentage Index will now determine how football teams make the playoffs in 2019-20 and beyond.
Two years ago, the FHSAA introduced its playoff points system as a way to give football teams a fairer shake in playoff eligibility. The system was tweaked last year but, apparently, it still wasn’t good enough.
The points system is now out and, beginning in the upcoming 2019-20 school year, the Ratings Percentage Index is now in.
Ranking every FHSAA team in the state just got more complicated, but the FHSAA hopes implementing a deeper system will lead to more accurate rankings and eliminate “scheduling havoc.” The organization said the RPI offers a metric with more transparency than the previous system, which just focused on the winning percentages for a team and those of all its opponents.
The move comes after a season in which the points system, which was considered an upgrade over the previous district champion/runner-up guarantees, was widely criticized after Andrew Jackson (4-5) lost a playoff spot to a winless Gadsden County (0-9) team by coin flip — Gadsden’s opponents were considered good enough that the team’s losses netted it the same amount of points as a Jackson team that actually won games. Switching to a points system was supposed to eliminate situations like that, which could previously happen if a district runner-up was nearly winless, but it wasn’t entirely effective.
Now, three factors determine one’s ranking: winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. The formula is RPI = (0.35 × WP) + (0.35 × OWP) + (0.30 × OOWP) and only regular-season games against varsity opponents (even if they’re from another state) count. Any ties count as half a win.
Opponents’ winning percentage is calculated on an individual, team-by-team basis ignoring the team whose RPI is being evaluated. So, when calculating Durant’s RPI and looking at its opponents’ schedules, one wouldn’t count games played against the Cougars in the process. Opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage is calculated in the same way. This potentially creates more work for those who determine the rankings, which the FHSAA said will be posted to its site at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Unlike the playoff system, the RPI does not offer bonus points for scheduling past playoff teams. That’s the situation the FHSAA described as creating “scheduling havoc,” as it favored teams who scheduled anyone with a playoff appearance in the previous two seasons. Because the RPI leans more heavily on win percentages than points, game cancellations that can’t be rescheduled won’t hurt anybody’s odds. That could be helpful during hurricane season, which always creates uncertainty and was even more stressful with the playoff points system’s insistence on reaching a certain number of games played to achieve postseason eligibility.
The RPI does continue the points system’s trend of ignoring win quality in favor of straight-up wins and losses, meaning Plant City gets the same treatment for a 41-14 win as Strawberry Crest would for a 10-7 win.
Tiebreakers will be determined by six factors: head-to-head results, win percentages, opponents’ win percentages, opponents’ opponents’ win percentages, highest-rated win (per final RPI standings) and, if all else fails, the next-highest rated win.