COLUMBUS, Ohio — After Ohio High School Athletic Association announced it will expand the field for the state high school football playoffs starting in 2021, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association said it was "extremely disappointed" with OHSAA's decision.
In 2020, the OHSAA used a special rule that awarded a playoff spot to all programs throughout the state due to the pandemic. The OHSAA ruled last year that it would increase spots in the tournament from eight per region to 12 for the 2021 season.
The coaches association said it was in favor of the 12-team format, but the 16-team bracket was not favored by its members.
"The decision by the OHSAA to expand to a 16-team playoff format is met with complete dismay by the OHSFCA," the coaches association said in a statement. "We are extremely disappointed in yesterday's vote by the OHSAA without consulting the OHSFCA. It is abundantly clear that this decision is financially motivated."
The format previously would have awarded byes to the top four teams in each region starting this season.
The No. 1 seed will host the No. 16 seed; the No. 2 seed will host the No. 15 seed and so on. The highest-rated team will host games in the first two rounds with subsequent rounds being played at neutral stadiums.
All told, 448 teams will qualify for the state playoffs. The OHSAA said that 709 high schools fielded 11-man teams in 2020.
The state championships will be Dec. 2 through 5. The site for the state championships has not been determined.
“Last fall we received overwhelmingly positive feedback when we allowed every team to enter the football playoffs due to the shortened season because of COVID-19,” Doug Ute, OHSAA executive director, said in a statement. “We know there are some who want to keep the football postseason to a smaller number of schools, but the postseason tournament gives such a positive experience for our student-athletes, the schools and their communities that we felt strongly about giving that opportunity to more schools to make the playoffs. And football remains the only OHSAA sport in which not every team automatically qualifies for the postseason.”
The first round of the state playoffs will be Oct. 29 and 30.