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MIAA approves minor changes to football power ratings

FRANKLIN — The MIAA Football Committee met Thursday and determined not to make any format changes to the playoff system that debuted last fall. But a tweak here and there . . . that was another story.

When MIAA member schools voted in October 2012 to approve the new format, they did so with the understanding there would be no changes until after the two-year trial period, meaning the 2014 season. But for two hours, committee members essentially discussed what they could do (a tweak) vs. what they couldn't do (a change).

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“That’s the tricky question we’ve been trying to navigate,” said MIAA assistant director Peter Smith.

With an eye on the calendar and the difficulty of making changes after 2014 in time for the 2015 season, the committee voted, 11-2, to approve the concept of the current system for the 2015 season with format changes to follow after the 2014 season, based on district feedback.

In other words, the two-year trial became a three-year trial, with potential improvements. The extra year would buy time to either improve what they have or bring back the old system.

Beverly principal Sean Gallagher and Burlington athletic director Ed Gillis were the no votes.

But after two more votes to tweak aspects of the 2014 season, the original motion to continue the format for a third year was amended to say, “major format changes.”

After all, you can’t say there will be changes following the 2014 season and then vote in changes before the 2014 season. That vote was 10-2-1 in favor.

The tweaks were to the power rating system. First, the Western Mass. formula was tweaked to give teams 1 point for every win by an opponent you lost to or tied. Last fall, teams did not get the 1 point and both Eastern Mass. and Central Mass. already had that feature in their formulas. That passed, 12-0-1.

After that vote, Franklin athletic director Brad Sidwell, also representing District C, asked if changing the EMass formula was now possible, since Western Mass. was just changed. Sidwell had not proposed changing the EMass formula, believing the committee goal was to avoid changes during the two-year trial period.

With change, or tweaks, now going full speed ahead, the EMass formula was tweaked to give teams 10 points for wins over a team in a lower division in your league. Previously, higher-division schools would get only 8 points.

But Somerset Berkley principal Jahmal Mosley protested prior to the vote, saying, “We’re opening up a Pandora’s box. We’re losing the fact that after one year we’re making changes and I think that’s wrong.”

Some agreed, and the vote was closer, passing just 6-5-2.

The MIAA also released results from a questionnaire distributed to schools regarding last fall, with most responders calling the system either excellent or good. But among the more interesting responses:

  104 of 171 schools said revenue from football games decreased; just 12 said it increased.

  98 of 171 said Thanksgiving attendance decreased; just three said attendance increased.

With weather and matchups being the primary factors in attendance, the committee is looking forward to collecting a second year’s worth of responses.

The committee’s next meeting is September. The first day of practice is Aug. 18.

Bob Holmes can be reached at rholmes@globe.com
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