So what's the deal with who gets home-field advantage in the IHSA football playoffs?
This could easily be one of the most asked questions I get at this time of the year, especially from casual high school football fans.
The current policy is pretty simple and straight forward. In the first round, the higher seeded team hosts the game. But after that things get a bit more fuzzy. The school that has hosted the least amount of games after Round 1 is awarded the home game in the following round. So if you open up on the road as a 5-4 team and win that first game, odds are you'll get a home game in Round 2.
So what's the point of going (for example) 9-0 or 8-1 in the regular season, earning a high seed, just to lose any potential home-field advantage as early as the next round? Why not just allow the higher seed to host home playoff games in each round?
Those in favor of this current policy will point towards avoiding overuse and damage to certain home fields (grass fields). Those same grass fields could become a potential safety hazard if they become torn up. I get that. But with more and more playing surfaces going to field turf, could we get closer to taking a harder look at the current policy?
Simply put, has the time come for the IHSA to take a look at its whole determining process as to who gets to host a state playoff game?
Also, how about giving another slight policy change some consideration. Why not allow higher seeded teams the choice to either: (A) host a first round game or (B) give them the option to play on the road, while keeping the same home-field policy in place?
Controversial? No question, yet under the current home-field playoff policy, the more early road games you play in the state playoffs the better the odds of keeping that earned home-field advantage deeper in the state playoffs.
Sure I might be nitpicking here a bit, but can't we at least take a look at rewarding teams that earn those higher playoff seeds?