NJSIAA to football schools: “Don’t drop games to boost playoff chances”

Apparently, the complex UPR system that determines playoff qualification through a mix of power point average and OSI isn’t that complex after all.

Apparently, enough coaches understand it well enough that some have been exploring ways to “mutually cancel” late season games that would have hurt their power point or OSI standing, in an effort to schedule stronger opponents that can help their cause.

And rightly so, the NJSIAA and the New Jersey Football Coaches Association are wagging their fingers at them, saying “Don’t do it.”

In its weekly e-mail newsletter sent to coaches, obtained by Central Jersey Sports Radio, NJFCA Commissioner John Jacob said it fully endorsed the NJSIAA’s stance – outlined in no uncertain terms – that the practice is strictly forbidden.

“It has come to our attention that some football programs are engaging in discussions to mutually ‘drop’ a football game prior to the cut-off in an effort to improve one or both teams’ ranking for postseason seeding purposes,” the NJSIAA memo said.

The association expects games to go on as scheduled, unless there’s a “legitimate” reason for not playing, such as COVID. But when that’s the case, the team cancelling the game takes a forfeit for power point and OSI purposes, and the other gets a win. So some schools have been looking to mutually cancel games, so they don’t go down as forfeits. Then, they would conceivably find another opponent that would help their playoff standing, win or lose.

“Any game not played by mutual agreement may be viewed as a violation of the NJSIAA Sportsmanship Policy and may be referred to the NJSIAA Controversies Committee,” said the NJSIAA statement shared by Jacob in the newsletter.

While teams could have always tried this practice with power points back when it was the only calculation used for playoff qualification, the use of OSI makes it more enticing in that teams are rewarded more in OSI than in power points for losing to strong teams.

For example, a Group 2 team with a power point average of 12 and an OSI of 35 trying to make the playoffs, a loss against a Group 3 team with 7 wins and an 80 SI rating would be more appealing than a win over a Group 1 school with an SI of 25 points and no wins. Beating the Group 1 would be worth 7 points (6 for the win, 1 for the group and no residuals) and 25 OSI points, while losing to the Group 3 would be worth 8 residuals, and 40 OSI points (half the team’s SI for a loss).

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