Piecing together WPIAL football pairings not an easy process
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It's too early for March Madness, but longtime athletic director Randy Rovesti will use this weekend to fill out brackets.
Instead of Kentucky and Kansas, he'll debate Central Catholic and Upper St. Clair.
“I'll sit around all day Sunday and play with the brackets,” said Rovesti, who's on the committee that assembles the WPIAL football playoffs.
The pairings are announced Monday night at the DoubleTree in Green Tree, where coaches and administrators will crowd into a ballroom to see them revealed. But the brackets are assembled earlier that day by a 14-member steering committee in a conference room at the WPIAL office.
The group starts at 11 a.m. When they're finished, often around 5:30 p.m., all four 16-team brackets are complete.
“It's not an easy process,” said Rovesti, a committee member for two decades.
He'll bring his rough drafts, but he knows they're certain to change as the group debates.
“I'll go in with my thoughts,” he said, “then we sit together and try to iron it out. That's the beauty of the thing. Everybody has a different idea.
“You listen to the arguments and come to a consensus.”
There are other ways to organize playoffs. The WPIAL could adopt a bracket similar to what the PIAA uses, in which teams are slotted into predetermined positions. But having a committee objectively seed teams provides a more fair tournament, said executive director Tim O'Malley.
“Every year, conferences are different, so (using a predetermined bracket) is blatantly unfair,” said O'Malley, noting how the second-place team from one could be better than the champion of another.
“There's nothing like the anticipation for the 7 o'clock announcement,” Rovesti said. “I enjoy it, or I wouldn't do it. And afterward, everyone tells you what (the brackets) should have been.
“You try to do what's right, but it's an inexact science.”
O'Malley oversees the committee meeting, which each year includes a bit of reflection.
“We look back (at last year's playoffs) to see if we got the final four correct,” said Rovesti, who's in his first year at Gateway after years at Norwin. “The majority of the time there's at least three out of four — if not all four — so we're doing something right.”
This was true again last season. At least three of the top four seeds in each classification reached the semifinals. In Class AA, all four made it.
That's the committee's goal, O'Malley said.
The group wants “brackets that will advance to the semifinals the top four teams.”
The toughest bracket to seed this year will be Class A. After Sto-Rox (9-0) and North Catholic (9-0), the next six teams might be arranged in almost any order.
That group includes five-time defending champion Clairton (8-1), which finished second on tiebreakers in the Black Hills but might draw the No. 3 seed.
When comparing teams, the committee will consider records, points, schedule strength and health, Rovesti said. But playoff pedigree also helps.
“If teams have historically proven to be very competitive in the tournament, that might weigh into the decision of where you want to seed them this year,” O'Malley said.
Arranging the top seeds in Class AAAA won't be simple, with Central Catholic, Upper St. Clair and McKeesport undefeated. The No. 1 seed in Class AAA could be Thomas Jefferson or West Allegheny.
“Every year there's a challenge,” O'Malley said. “Some of them will work themselves out, but some of them will be difficult.”
But if the committee's choices leave anyone unhappy, it's clear where blame should be laid.
“If anybody complains, (Brentwood principal) Jason Olexa, the new member on committee, it was his idea,” O'Malley said with a laugh. “Go see him.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- HS highlight reel: SF wrestler Walker chooses Kent State
- Connellsville hopes to keep rolling
- Seton-La Salle outlasts Steel Valley
- High school roundup: No. 9 North Allegheny takes down Upper St. Clair
- Trib high school rankings for Sunday, Sept. 21
- Penn Hills runs past Mt. Lebanon defense
- No. 5 Highlands uses turnovers to beat No. 7 Kittanning
- Plum’s surge hands Norwin 1st loss, 23-14
- Clairton allows 2 scores but still sprints past Springdale
- Monessen averts upset bid with 28-6 victory over Leechburg
- Belle Vernon: This is no meaningless game