Inside the numbersPublished 6:14am Monday, October 21, 2013
High school coaches see pros and cons
of QRF rating system for various sports
One major question in sports is who has the best team. More importantly, that question often determines seeding placements and match ups for end-of-the-year playoffs and tournaments.
College basketball has a selection committee, the pros use records and divisional tie breakers, and college football, notoriously, uses the Bowl Championship Series formula.
In high school athletics, the Quality Results Formula, or QRF, answers that question by eliminating opinion-based seeding in section playoffs.
According to the official QRF website, Minnesota-Scores.net, the formula for figuring out playoff seeding takes into account if a team wins or loses a game, the amount of wins that opponent has and the class differential from both teams.
This is then divided by the number of games played by the team and ranks it against sectional opponents for playoff seeding.
In the case of a tie-breaker, the QRF formula uses human elements, something no other formula has done before.
In an agreement with the Minnesota State High School League, the formula is the fourth deciding factor in order to break a tie coming behind head-to-head percentage, overall record percentage and section record percentage.
The general consensus from coaches is that they have a basic understanding of how seeding works, but do not know exactly what the formula is.
But, overall, there is little controversy about the placement of teams, compared to the BCS, as high school coaches have found that its spot in the playoffs usually makes sense.
The formula is used in a variety of sports including football, volleyball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, wrestling and soccer. Minnesota and North Dakota have both adapted the formula for these sports with the potential to add additional sports in the future.
Some would argue how successful the formula can be by applying values to certain teams. Although not predicting winners and losers, since 2011, the QRF standings have seeded 37 of 56 state champions in boys and girls basketball at the top spot at the beginning of the tournaments.
“You can’t argue with the numbers if you understand the formula,” Fergus Falls head volleyball coach Renee Erickson said. “It takes more off the coaches. In our case, we don’t get to see all of our section opponents in a season because of our conference schedule. So to have me rate where a certain team is in the playoffs, when I have never seen them play, would be difficult.”
The Otters are hoping that QRF plays in its favor this year as Fergus moves back into Class AA, while playing mostly Class AAA teams. According to the standings as of Oct. 18, the Otters are just ahead of section opponent Thief River Falls, but are three spots behind Perham.
On the gridiron, the difficulty of seeding teams last year forced the QRF formula to change in order to account for teams that predominantly play schedules outside of their class. Last season, Parkers Prairie and Eagle Valley combined to form Prairie Valley. The team played a 9-man football schedule, but entered the playoffs as an 11-man, Class AA team.
The Otter football team continues the trend of Fergus Falls teams playing competition outside of its class as it played half of its schedule against Class AAAAA foes, one class up from its section.
“I kind of have a mixed opinion on it,” Fergus Falls head football coach Steve Olson said. “Over the last few years, when everything shakes out, it seems pretty accurate. What I don’t like is how your playoff seed stays kind of a mystery until after the final game. We just know that winning is better than losing.”
The Otters were rewarded the fourth seed in the Section 8AAAA playoffs and finished the season as the 25th ranked team in Class AAAA. The Otters will host fifth seed Albany, 26th in the QRF standings, Tuesday.