Hutton: IHSAA tourney formula inverse of excellence
March 18, 2013 10:02PM
Bowman Academy's players celebrate their victory over Bishop Noll during the Wheeler boys basketball sectional championship game held at Wheeler High School on Saturday March 2, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 20, 2013 6:33AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Have I told you how absurd the Tournament Success Factor Formula that the Indiana High School Athletic Association uses is? No. Good — let’s talk.
I think that a good attorney could have a field day with it.
I like to call it the “Bowman rule.” (There are schools in football, like Fort Wayne Luers, that this rule was aimed at, too).
If you’re too good and we (the IHSAA) decide you’re too good, we’re going to specifically carve out an exception for you to make it more difficult for your team. See Bowman’s three appearances in the state title game over the last four years for an example.
The IHSAA punished excellence by forcing the best teams in each class over a two-year period move up a class if they score more than six points in a reclassification period (essentially a two-year period).
Teams get one point for a sectional, two points for a regional, three points for a semistate and four points for a state title.
It is so illogical and backward thinking and just plain antithetical to the class system, which was essentially engineered by the small school principals and athletic directors that it’s not all surprising that it was instituted.
We should just officially charter the rules of our tournament to any administrator of a school with an enrollment under 600. They pretty much have owned the discussion of how our state basketball tournament should be played for last two decades.
The beauty of the “Bowman rule” is they don’t care. They welcome the scrutiny and, let’s face it, the jealousy, because essentially what that rules says is that a bunch of schools can’t compete with the Eagles, so they need to go somewhere else and play. It’s about defeatism. That’s all.
Bowman shattered the curve, so let’s kick them out of our class and let someone else deal with them.
There are a few schools that have the moxie, the pipeline of players and the long term stamina to actually shrug their shoulders in defiance at TSFF.
And Bowman is one of them.
Bowman coach Marvin Rea wants to be the first coach to win the state title in all four classes. Really.
First, however, they have to beat Linton-Stockton Saturday in the Class 2A title because Rea plans to say goodbye to 2A forever. He wants to play with the big boys.
He wants this to be a legacy builder for his program and his team, some of who were freshman when they won in Class A in 2010.
“This is important,” he said. “We’re going to 3A. This is our shot at 2A and the plan is never to go back to 2A.”
Bowman gets to go to 4A if they can win back-to-back sectionals and regionals in 3A. Imagine them playing Munster in the West Side Sectional in 2016. I can’t wait.
The crazy, arbitrary, capricious nature of the rule means that Park Tudor, which won consecutive state titles but lost in sectionals this year, won’t move — at least for now — even though they are the team that beat Bowman last year.
A better solution to the problem would be to invite and perhaps incentivize a move upward for any school that wants to make the leap. I’m not sure what that could be but there has to be a way.
My last example is Carmel. The Greyhounds have racked up an astounding seven points in two years with a possibility of eight. Can’t get any better than that.
They beat Merrillville by 30 stinking points in the semistate, yet there is no place for them to go. Shouldn’t they have to split up the team or sit out a year?
They’re just too damn good. I’ve got an idea. Maybe Carmel should move to 5A — in basketball only. They could be an island, alone, inwardly soaking up their excellence. They could play a series of inter-squad games and then call it a season and come back to 4A in a couple of years.