CLEAR LAKE -- Iowa high school football playoff qualifiers will double in number effective with the 2008 season.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association Board of Control voted to expand the football playoff field from 16 to 32 qualifiers in all classes during its monthly meeting Friday morning. The IHSAA has had 16 qualifiers in all 11-player classes since 1987.
The change came after previous discussions with school administrators, the Association's Representative Council, and within the Board of Control after the playoff committee of coaches, athletic directors and administrators strongly favored expansion in their meetings last winter and spring.
As a result of the expansion, the game season will now start for all teams during what the Association calls Zero Week, currently being used by schools that need a ninth game but could not find an opponent within the usual nine week schedule. The final week of the season in 2008 will be Week 8 which is currently October 18-19. Play off games would start the Wednesday following the final game, with the championships still ending the week before Thanksgiving.
All schools will have nine game schedules in the new expanded format. This winter the IHSAA will re-district teams in Classes 3A, 2A, 1A, A and 8-player. Since going to District Football in 1992, the IHSAA has re-districted teams every two years, mainly to take into account enrollment changes among schools.
Football playoffs were created in Iowa in 1972 after several discussions between the Board of Control and the Iowa Football Coaches Association and a survey of the member schools.
The time line of IHSAA football playoff history follows:
1972 -- 4 classes (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A)
1972-74 - 4 qualifiers in each class
1975-83 -- 8 qualifiers per class
1976 -- Championship games held in the UNI-Dome
1981 -- Class A created
1984-86 -- 8 qualifiers in Class 4A; 16 qualifiers in all other classes
1987-2007 -- 16 qualifiers in all 11-player classes
1998 -- Semifinals held in the UNI-Dome
2000 and 2001 -- 8-player class added with 4 qualifiers
2002 -- 8-player qualifiers expanded to 8 with championship game in UNI-Dome
2006 -- 8 player qualifiers expanded to 16 with semifinals in the UNI-Dome
2008 (effective) -- 32 qualifiers in all classes