Bob Lutz: Kansas high school football playoffs remain a head-scratcher
Hello, I’m Dizzy, your automated voice of the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
Our mailbag is full with questions concerning the high school football playoffs, which resume Friday night in Classes 6A, 5A and 8-Man something or other. So let’s get to some of your queries, shall we?
Q: I noticed Wichita North got into the Class 6A playoffs at 1-8. What’s up with that?
A: Well, the Redskins play in a district that … well … stunk. North, Campus and South were all 1-8. North beat South; South beat Campus; Campus beat North. And because of our point system that no one understands, North was crowned district runnerup. We didn’t actually have crowns, though. We can’t afford crowns. So now North gets to travel to Derby and continue its season. Lucky North.
Q: We noticed that eight of the 32 playoff teams in 6A and 5A have losing records. What’s up with that?
A: The KSHSAA is a strong proponent of mediocrity. It’s why we have 28 classes and our offices are in Topeka. That’s a little joke to lighten the mood around here. Even my automation is picking up the hostility.
Q: Buhler has had a really nice season. Yet the Crusaders were sent on the road to play at Ulysses, which is halfway to Juarez, in the first round. Now, on Saturday night, the Crusaders have to go to Abilene. What’s up with that?
A: It’s all in the formula. If you take time to carefully go over the formula we use to schedule our playoff games, you’ll begin to understand the logic. We attempt to limit the traveling burden on our member schools because we recognize these are, first and foremost, students who just happen to play football. Except for Buhler. We’ll send Buhler anywhere.
Q: I see the remaining 16 teams in the 3A playoffs have a combined record of 136-23. Those winners were 120-23 going into first-round games, while the losing first-round teams were 88-55. Were those first-round games really necessary? What’s up with that?
A: Ha, ha. People often wonder why we allow half of our schools into the football playoffs. Trust me, if we thought we could get away with it, we’d let them all in. The KSHSAA strongly believes that the more students and athletes who can experience the thrill of the football playoffs, the better citizens we’re building. These playoffs are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We go all out to make this something that these young people will remember for the rest of their lives.
Q: So is that why you play most of your state championship games (not including 8-Man) on the same day, at the same time and at five sites? That’s the once-in-a-lifetime experience of which you speak? What’s up with that?
A: Oh, so you’re one of those people who would rather see the state championship football games played over the course of a weekend at one central location so that fans across Kansas can see the best teams and players in action? You must be new to Kansas. That’s just not how we operate. We believe in baking one big pie and slicing it into as many pieces as we can.
Q: I see you’ve split Class 4A into two classes. So next year we’re going to have two separate 4A champions, in Divisions I and II? What’s up with that?
A: If there’s one thing we love here at the KSHSAA, it’s making more classes. We’re kind of like the University of Phoenix in that way. Our schools thought the enrollment numbers in 4A were too rangy. In other words, some of the folks at the smaller 4A schools were whining and crying and when somebody whines and cries, the KSHSAA is first at the scene to make things right. Our motto should be: The More Winners, The Fewer Losers. Nobody wants to lose.
That’ll wrap it up for today. Thanks to everyone for their questions and comments. I hope I’ve been helpful as we prepare to crown seven state football championships in a state with 79 people. Enjoy the playoffs. Chances are someone close to you will win.