WHERE UTAH’S RPI FAILED IN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL THIS YEAR
The RPI, or the rating percentage index, has been oft criticized since it emerged in 2019 to rank every single team in numerical order.
In the good ol days, the only thing that mattered was how well a team did in region play. That determined your seeding, that determined your playoff route.
The introduction of the RPI meant that every single game mattered even the non-region matchups. The RPI used math, algorithms, formulas and systems that our simpleton minds couldn’t comprehend to crunch and condense what teams were truly cream of the crop.
“The RPI formula works off the averages of three components: winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage and opponents' opponents winning percentage.” (UHSAA.ORG)
Your favorite team might be ranked below a team they beat two weeks ago and you can’t do a single thing about it, because the numbers say your wrong.
Despite the RPI disvaluing region championships or muddying common perceptions of what team is best, it usually gets things right. Mock it, taunt it, despise it, the RPI often lays out the top teams in a classification.
Sure, you have your upsets, but even so, its likely that a championship game will consist of 2 teams from the RPI’s top 5.
In football this year for example, it got the following right:
For 1A 8-man football it had Rich at #1 and Monticello at #2. Rich beat Monticello 35-20 in the championship. All 4 top teams were the last 4 standing in the semis.
In standard 1A football Beaver beat Enterprise for the title. The RPI tabbed Beaver as the 1 seed and Enterprise as the #3 team. The entirety of the 1A semifinals featured all top 4 teams, each game within 7 points.
Jumping up the 2A level, all teams in the semi’s were ranked top 5. #1 San Juan took care of #2 South Summit in the championship.
3A was another #1 and #2 title game with Richfield (1) taking care of Manti (2). Once again, the semifinals consisted of all top 4 teams in the rankings.
Even at the highest level that Utah has to offer, the RPI saw its top 4 teams appear in the semifinals. This Friday the #2 Corner Canyon Chargers take on #4 Skyridge for the crown.
You may be thinking; “I thought the article was titled where the “RPI failed”? All this is, is a love letter to the robot that determines order in the football world.”
Now you see, this was done with a purpose. To truly appreciate what the RPI got wrong, you have to understand that it often doesn’t miss on these types of games.
So, before we go ripping on inanimate objects, know that these two examples are relatively uncommon for the pigskin picking cyborg.
Starting right here in St. George, many slighted that Crimson Cliffs ended the season as the 2nd best team in the 4A classification per the RPI.
Region 9 fans who felt the RPI was misleading, were proven right as the postseason unfurled. #1 Sky View dropped in the quarterfinals and #3 Provo didn’t even make it past the second round.
The final four consisted of #2 Crimson Cliffs, #4 Park City, #6 Ridgeline and # 8 Green Canyon.
It gets even sweeter when you look at this Friday’s upcoming championship game. #2 Crimson Cliffs lives on, but its #8 Green Canyon who comes in as the challenger after dispatching the RPI’s #1 and #4 teams.
That’s a big swing and a miss for equations and formulas in sports.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.
The biggest blunder from our computer compatriot is at the 5A level.
#2 Springville, #3 Roy, and #4 Box Elder all fizzled in the quarterfinals.
In their place for the semifinals came #5 Olympus, #10 Bountiful, and #11 Alta.
A 5 seed is understandable, but two double digit ranked teams in the semifinals seems like a bad glitch on the RPI’s part.
#11 Alta had to slug through #6 West and #3 Roy.
#10 Bountiful went past #7 Granger and #2 Springville. This all but guaranteed that a double-digit seed was going to the title game as these two teams met in the semifinals.
Bountiful won 22-20 and will play in the championship this Friday.
Sure, the RPI got their opponent, #1 Timpview right. Everything else was so disgruntled however that we won’t mention it.
I understand this piece is written from a place of jealousy, recognizing the RPI to be as smart as it pretends to be. But man, it feels good to correct the kid that typically does the correcting.