Football: Eight misbehavin'? OUA might go back to old playoff format

You have to believe OUA football expansion is on the way, since a move to eight playoff teams is being discussed.

Ted Michaels at AM900 CHML in Hamilton reported today, "A proposal was raised at yesterday's coaches meeting to have the top eight teams make the playoffs," up from six. (Expanding dress rosters from 45 to 50 is also on the table.)

It would be great to hear the rationale, though granted this is a proposal which would still have to go through with the ADs. That's not questioning the report; it's an admission that, I don't know.

Teams which have had a first-round bye are only 2-4 in the semifinals across the past three seasons. However, the two who managed to avoid a stumble, coach Greg Marshall's 2008 Western Mustangs and Pat Sheahan's 2009 Queen's Golden Gaels, each went to the Vanier Cup. The OUA has had three teams reach the Vanier (two winning it) since it adopted the six-team format in 2004.

Other factors were at play, but the OUA was 0-for-3 at getting a team to the Vanier Cup when its top teams had to play the extra game from 2001-03. The 1 vs. 8 and 2-7 quarter-finals felt like exhibition games. The average score of the 1 vs. 8 game was 65-7. The average score of the 2 vs. 7 game was 42-12. The league is now deeper than it was in the early aughties, but it is hard to see what would have been the marginal benefit of holding a Windsor-Queen's and a Waterloo-Laurier quarter-final this season.

That raises the question of where this is coming from. Other leagues, such as basketball and men's hockey, have expanded their playoff fields in recent years, so perhaps football feels a need to follow suit. An eight-team playoff field would be reasonably fair for an expanded 12-team league (Carleton and one other school, questions about talent dilution to be addressed later). Eight of 10 seems too easy. It would offer more encouragement to rebuilding programs such as York, which face a long road to getting back to the playoffs and respectability. However, that could be easier served by having home-and-homes between teams in similar levels, while exploring interlocking playing for the conference heavyweights.

Point being, it was a great OUA season in 2009, why fix what ain't broke? (We're gonna need a montage: The Score put together a highlight reel of the OUA season.)

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  1. Bad idea, really hope it doesn't go through unless there are 12 teams on board. It's an unnecessary extra game which has not proven successful in the past and on top of that it's almost like giving multiple teams a participant ribbon "Thanks for playing this year here's a playoff berth!".

    If and when the OUA expands further yes, that would be fine - even if the OUA was split into 2 divisions and 4 of the 6 in each division made it, I'm fine with that. But 8 out of 10 is simply too much and too easy.

    Postseason play should really be a reward and not an assumption.

  2. Oh, please no.

    The CIS Blog doesn't (and won't) have any official editorial stances, because even I can't take us that seriously, but if we did, one of the first would be "stop having so many bloody teams make the playoffs."

  3. CW seems to agree as they have cut down playoffs in a number of sports to more reasonable levels. Men's hockey, for example, is finally down to only four teams (instead of six of seven). I know parity exists in CW hockey (see last year with 5 and 6 seeds winning their first round series) however you should have to put together a halfway decent regular season to get there.

  4. Right now, it's conceivable that a lowest seed team in the OUA could challenge one of the better teams (Guelph nearly beat Western in the regular season)

    You expand that playoff group to include the bottom feeders like UT and Waterloo, we all know they could never knock off the higher ups.

    Right now the playoff formula makes sure the quality programs that can chellenge all programs are in the playoffs, we cant start putting the others in there when they couldnt possibly win.

  5. When I was a member of the OUA sport committee there was an official rule passed that would see 50% + 1 team make the playoffs, that's why there were only 6 teams making the playoffs since the early 2000s.

    The problem the OUA has had for years is that schools who don't invest in their programs complain that they never get a chance to be in the playoffs but I think that if we had teams in the 7 seed who could really contend for a championship or give the 1 seed a real run for their money, then I'd be in favour of expanding the playoffs, but just to keep teams in the race until the end of the season isn't a good rationale behind expanding the playoffs.

    I personally think the playoffs work well - If anything, I'd rather see the OUA eliminate the QF round and let all teams play each other each season instead of allowing 8 teams into the post-season dance.

  6. This is dumb...
    If they are going to get 12 teams in the OUA they are going to have to re-vamp everything about the season schedule.

    1st. They will have to make two divisions, East and West.

    2. The season should have 5 divisional games and 3 out of division games.

    3. Making the playoffs is based on your divisional standings.

    3. If three teams make the playoffs, the format stays the same... with crossover in the second round.

    I would love to see more teams play home and away against teams during the season. It makes rivalries that much better.

  7. Big V what about 5 interdivision games, one rivalry game, and then 2 out of conference games? Builds more rivalries and then allows for a wild card when playing out of division.

    I would really love to see Carelton and another team enter the OUA (Is UOIT still a possibility? Will Laurentian again consider returning if Carelton does? Or will Brock ever step up?) . I think the conference would improve under a 12 team, 2 division system.

    In the meantime however just hope they don't jump the gun and make an 8 team playoff format too soon.

  8. Keep in mind, 12 teams is a ways off (and the school I heard mentioned as a possibility is not in Mike's post, btw). UOIT would seem like a decent candidate, although football is a lot to manage for a very young university. I am surprised they don't go for OUA membership in basketball.

    This does hinge on what your interpretation of "proposal" is; could mean it's likely, could mean it went nowhere. We know, since Ted Michaels is a good reporter with good sources, that it was at least discussed, likely in depth.