If not for a change in the interpretation of its bylaws this off-season, the GHSA might be waiting on a series of mini-games Monday involving Tift County, Camden County and Lowndes, and then South Gwinnett, Rockdale County and Newton, before finalizing its playoff bracket in Class AAAAAAA.
Region 1 has a three-way tie for second place. Region 8 has a three-way tie for third.
Here’s how the GHSA bylaws continues to read on the matter:
‘’In case there is a tie between three or more teams and there are not spots in the playoff for all the teams, the following tie-breaking procedures will be used. …
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(a) If the teams that are tied have played during the regular season game and one team has defeated the others, the undefeated team has the highest placement. [All the teams in our examples are 1-1 against each other, so this doesn’t apply. Go to the next one.]
(b) If one team has not beaten all other tied teams, the school with the highest percentage of wins against the tied teams will have the highest placement. [All the teams are 1-1 against each other, so this doesn’t apply, either. Go to the next one.]
(c) If the tie remains, the teams that are tied will meet in a GHSA Tie-breaker Mini-game.’’
Bingo. Mini-games. That would mean that Lowndes plays Tift County in a shortened game, and then Tift plays Camden in a shortened game, and then Camden plays Lowndes, all in one night, one venue.
Remember that Region 1 has only four teams, and the GHSA guarantees Region 1 only three playoff berths. Three Region 1 teams are tied for two berths – the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.
The fourth-place finisher in Region 1 is eligible for the GHSA’s single at-large berth, but that berth cannot be determined until the region designates its fourth-place finisher. And that can’t happen without mini-games, as called upon by the GHSA bylaws.
But wait, the GHSA changed its interpretation of the bylaws in the off-season.
According to Tommy Whittle, the GHSA’s coordinator of football, the GHSA is allowing regions to use their own tiebreakers in these cases if they provided written documentation of those tiebreakers to the GHSA ahead of time. Apparently, Regions 1 and 8 did that.
‘’It’s just a lose-lose situation for those kids to have to play on Monday and turn around and play the next Friday or Saturday in the first round of the playoffs,’’ Whittle said, which means he’s on board with avoiding mini-games if possible. ‘’So we gave our schools the option this year to designate their own tiebreakers.’’
To be clear, the GHSA has always let the regions determine their seeds and have their own tiebreakers - except when the tiebreaker eliminated a team from the playoffs. That’s when the GHSA had previously mandated the mini-games.
But not any more, although the wording in the bylaws don’t necessarily reflect that.
In any event, the result is this: Region 1 will be seeded No. 1 Colquitt County, No. 2 Lowndes, No. 3 Camden County. And fourth-place Tift County is the region representative in the at-large bid sweepstakes, and likely will get it.
Region 2 will be No. 3 Newton, No. 4 South Gwinnett. Rockdale County is out based on a tiebreaker that considers the teams’ results in all games played.
Does Rockdale have a complaint? Don’t the bylaws sound like Rockdale should be suiting up for mini-games on Monday?
In other news, here are a few nuggets from an otherwise uneventful final week of the regular season in AAAAAAA:
*Most every game Friday had an expected outcome, or didn’t mean that much. Pebblebrook’s 38-35 win over Wheeler did. It put Pebblebrook (4-6, 2-3) in the playoffs. Wheeler (6-4, 1-4) is out. Remember that Wheeler was ranked for a spell this season after beating Roswell.
*Cherokee clinched a playoff berth with a 26-23 victory over Lassiter. Remember that Cherokee was winless last season.
*The best team that won’t make the playoffs is probably North Cobb. The Warrriors lost to fourth-ranked and Region 3 champion Hillgrove 21-14 and also beat three teams that made the playoffs (Etowah, East Coweta and Pebblebrook).