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Ohio High School Athletic Association removing 8-game regular season requirement for football playoffs

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 09:47:24-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio High School Athletic Association is removing the 8-game football regular season requirement for postseason qualification this year.

There won't be a minimum number of games required for the regular season in order to qualify for the playoffs, the OHSAA told WCPO.

Greater Miami Conference commissioner Steve Shuck, who a longtime playoff projections analyst, said the quality of wins remains of utmost importance this season.

The OHSAA also said playoff football games will be played at the home site of the highest-seeded team at least through the regional semifinals.

Home sites could be extended through the regional finals. In a typical year, the highest-seeded team hosts a first-round playoff game with a neutral site in the second round.

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The OHSAA said the changes are related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as so many guidelines and recommendations are left up to the local schools in concert with their local health departments.

Some teams around the state have grappled with scheduling out-of-area opponents due to the pandemic.

Aug. 1 is the official start date of fall sports practice.

Beau Rugg, OHSAA senior director of officiating and sport management, and Angie Lawler, director of officiating and sport management, informed member schools of the football tournament updates in a memo Thursday afternoon.

"The structure could change with the number of teams that qualify or if a tournament is feasible," the memo said.

With the 8-game requirement removed, computer points, also known as the Harbin system, are calculated on average with divisors so the OHSAA said it doesn't expect that move to be an issue.

In 2019, there were 709 schools in Ohio that played 11-man football. Football is the only OHSAA team sport in which not every school qualifies for the postseason.

This upcoming 2020 season will be the fifth consecutive season the OHSAA has had eight qualifying teams in each of the four regions with seven divisions. The OHSAA has not announced where the state football finals will be held this December.

The OHSAA football playoffs began in 1972 when only 12 schools qualified for the playoffs (four schools in each of three classes).

Expansion first came in 1980 when the OHSAA changed to five divisions with eight teams each (40 total qualifiers).

A sixth division was added in 1994 (96 total qualifiers) and the number of qualifiers was increased to eight schools per region in 1999 (192 total qualifiers).

A seventh division was added in 2013 to bring the number of qualifiers to 224.