If only The Blog on VarsityKansas.com existed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Can you imagine how The Blog would have been rife with ranting and raving from fans about the inequities of Kansas' football playoff system?
How it was unfair that 8-1 Southeast was missing the 1998 playoffs after losing to Class 6A-District 6 champ Derby (8-1). Or how Valley Center was 8-1 in 1999 and 2001 and didn't make the 5A playoffs?
Coaches were frustrated, fans were bitter, players angry with what was widely considered an unfair system.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association listened, and in 2002 changed the system, advancing two teams from each district.
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The system still has negatives — some districts have three or four good teams, while another district might send one, even two teams with losing records to the playoffs.
Class 6A-District 1 and 6A-District 2 don't have a team with more than two wins in the first five games of the season. Class 3A-District 10 has three 6-0 teams, one at 5-1.
With district play starting on Friday, I conducted an informal survey of about 40 football coaches in the area.
Overwhelmingly they like how the playoffs are determined.
"I like the current system," Buhler coach Steve Warner wrote in an e-mail. "The drawback is some weak teams get into the playoffs.... I had (in the past) several 8-1 teams and didn't make the playoffs. Having half the teams make it to the playoffs makes high school football exciting."
Bishop Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said: "I can tell you this, when we get to the final eight teams, it's the better eight teams than in the old system."
Schuckman is right.
For years I believed having two teams from each district diluted the playoffs. Just too many teams advancing. If you're the best team, you'll win your district.
I still believe that.
But it doesn't take into account that there are extremely strong districts and notoriously weak ones.
Take 2010. While Class 5A had two teams with losing records advance out of district play, Carroll advanced, too.
The Eagles lost to Hutchinson in the final district game — and under the old system would have been done for the season. But Carroll made the playoffs and then beat Hutch in the Class 5A semifinals to go to the championship.
Mediocre teams do still advance to the playoffs, but the system has increased the number of good teams moving on, too.
"If you look at the two scenarios, I'd rather have put the team that deserves to be there, than worry about the team that you think doesn't deserve to be there," Schuckman said.
And the weaker teams generally are weeded out in the first week of the playoffs.
Eight-team districts were considered in 2000, but travel costs and the likely loss of league play halted that conversation.
The concept of every team making the playoffs and then seeding into a sub-state tournament, as basketball does, has been considered. Only football and swimming don't have regional or sub-state tournaments to advance to state.
But as Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling pointed out in an e-mail, "we're all in the playoffs Week 7. Everyone has a chance to win state."
Coaches were asked what they would change if they were running the KSHSAA, and a common plan was seeding all classes.
Classes 6A and 5A seed 1-8 on the east and west sides. Classes 4A on down don't seed, merely playing the next district. For instance, Class 4A-District 1 winner plays the Class 4A-District 2 runner-up.
Another common idea was always having the higher seed host during the playoffs.
But those would be relatively minor changes to the current playoff system.
And because there's so few inequities, the ranting and raving has quieted.