CHSAA’s 2015 5A Football Conference Alignment Proposal
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As of right now, Cherry Creek football competes in one of the hardest conferences in the state, but a new Colorado High School Activities Association proposal aims to change that. The “Waterfall Proposal” was approved by CHSAA in early August. Its purpose is to balance the 5A football conferences, which have been highly criticized since the most recent realignment that occurred two years ago.
In the 2014 realignment, CHSAA ended up creating two “super conferences.” In essence, many of the top-20 programs in the state were placed in the same two leagues, the Jeffco League and the Centennial League. Powerhouse schools such as Valor Christian, Grandview, and Overland were all placed in the Centennial League alongside the Bruins. In the 2014 State Playoffs, all six teams from the Bruin’s conference earned spots in the tournament. Teams who started to miss the playoffs because of the new conferences began to question the fairness behind the alignment. CHSAA has also recognized the problem and is working to fix it with the latest conference proposal.
The 2016-2017 “Waterfall Proposal” will use a completely new method for determining which teams get in to which leagues. The new proposal will rank teams based on their Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) over the past two years. The RPI will rank teams based on everything from Win Percentage to Strength of Schedule. Once the two-year RPI data is complied and the rankings are determined, the teams will be evenly spread out into seven conferences consisting of six teams each. In theory, all seven conferences will include one “powerhouse” team, one top-15 team, two top-30 teams, and two teams that are traditionally ranked near the bottom. While this system may seem to lower the level of competition for strong programs, such as Cherry Creek, CHSAA is confident that the entire 5A playing field will be more competitive as a whole with this new proposal. On November 13th, CHSAA made the new alignment available to the public.
Cherry Creek (9-2) is ranked number one in the two-year RPI rankings, and thus was the first team placed into “Conference A.” The other teams that will join the Bruins in this conference are Fossil Ridge (5-5), Horizon (8-3), Denver East (6-4), Prairie View (4-6), and the FNE Warriors (0-10). When analyzing this new conference, there are a few things to consider. First, while it may seem like these five teams don’t pose a major threat to the Bruins, it is worth noting that all of the teams, with the exception of the FNE Warriors, made this year’s state tournament. Another thing to consider is the added travel time associated with “Conference A.” According to Google Maps, the average away trip for the Bruins will now take them 36 minutes. While this may not seem like a long time, consider the fact that when you take the closest school (Denver East) out of the equation, the average time jumps up to about 48 minutes. This is more than double the current average travel of around 20 minutes.
The “Waterfall Proposal” has passed all preliminary votes, however it must still pass the final CHSAA Football Committee vote in December and the Legislative Council vote in January. While the stances of both committees are not officially known, it is predicted that the proposal will pass all necessary votes. If the proposal does indeed pass, it will go in to effect starting with the Fall 2016 season. The proposal will only affect football programs; all other sports will stay with their current alignment.