The formula used to seed football and many volleyball and soccer section playoffs this fall has been explained.
That doesn’t mean it’s understood.
In my story Oct. 20 concerning the possible section volleyball playoff seedings, I wrote, “The QRF standings could change depending on those team results, but because the formula, which is operated by the website Minnesota-Scores.net, is being kept a secret, it’s unclear how much change will happen.”
I was wrong in that the formula for the Quality Results Formula is not a secret. The formula is explained with an example on the Minnesota-Scores blog titled “QRF explained in detail.”
Dave Harris, Region 8-2A Minnesota State High School League secretary, said the QRF was presented to all the school districts.
Where I was right is that the formula has made things unclear and nearly impossible to predict how game results will effect the section seedings. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But with so many variables — opponents wins being the key one — predicting how a section is going to fall into place is difficult.
In fact, QRF founder Ryan Weinzierl had difficulty with it himself.
In an Oct. 18 blog entry titled “Class A Playoff Scenarios” posted by Weinzierl on the Minnesota-Scores.net website, for Section 6-1A it stated that if Lark Park-Audubon beat Pillager in the final regular-season game LP-A would move into the No. 3 seed and Pillager would fall to No. 4.
On Oct. 20 at the Fargodome, Lake Park-Audubon beat Pillager. Huskies head coach Lowell Scearcy assumed his team would fall to the No. 4 spot and exchanged video with No. 5 seeded Ottertail Central after the game.
When the Huskies’ bus returned to Pillager later that day, Scearcy learned that his team in fact stayed ahead of LP-A by 0.4 points — 36.8 for Pillager, 36.4 for LP-A — and would host Pine River-Backus, not OTC.
“The short version I can figure out is you’re given more points for a more difficult schedule,” said Pequot Lakes activities director Marc Helmrichs. “The formula rewards a team that has other quality opponents on its schedule. That’s the shortest way I can explain it.”
Helmrichs’ football team just beat out Thief River Falls for the No. 2 seed in the Section 8-3A playoffs despite losing to the Prowlers 28-6 and having the same record. The one difference was Pequot beat Class 4A’s Detroit Lakes. TRF lost to the Lakers.
“I don’t understand the system to have a recommendation for what a tweak might be, but I would imagine there will be some conversation after the season,” said Helmrichs. “One would be, ‘I beat you head-to-head and we have the same record so how can you be seeded ahead of me.’ But the system is what it is. I understand why the state high school league adopted it.”
I understand too and let me say I’m in favor of the QRF and enjoyed the then unofficial ranking system for the last few years through the website.
The reason the MSHSL adopted the formula is this:
“Originally the state high school league wanted some consistency in seeding because there were schools that moved from one section to another from one year to the next and when they moved into a new section there was a whole new way of seeding things,” said Harris. “One section would use a point system while the other would use a coaches vote. The league has been looking for some suitable consistent way to do it.”
Here is the actual formula from the website: A predetermined value (based on opponent class) multiplied by the number of opponent wins divided by the number of games played.
Two questions I have: Where does a win and/or loss factor in and what are the predetermined values?
Weinzierl told the Marshall Independent that he created the formula to allow fans across the state to better understand the scores they see listed in a newspaper.
The article said Weinzierl was approached by the MSHSL Football Subcommittee last December to come up with a uniform formula to use across the state as long as it didn’t include a team’s margin of victory and defeat.
Weinzierl adjusted his formula and QRF was adopted.
To come up with a QRF score, a team gets a certain amount of points for each game. The team gets more points for wins. The formula also takes into consideration the classification of an opponent and what that opponent’s record is. A team gets points for losses, as well, earning more points for losses against teams in a higher classification, or with more wins. The team’s accumulated point total is divided by how many games the team has played to determine the QRF rating.
Harris, who used to keep track of three section standings (Sections 5-4A, 8-4A and 8-5A) said all three used a different point system and he’s happy to have someone else doing it.
However, he did agree that it was easier to predetermine how section seedings were going to fall because it was just points earned and there wasn’t a formula. Coaches and fans knew how much each game was worth depending on a win or a loss.
Throw in opponent’s wins and losses and it becomes more time consuming to figure out and predict.
QRF has been successful in picking the top teams across the state. By the website’s own admission, teams with a QRF advantage over their opponent have gone 1170-222 (.841) since 2003.
It would be hard to argue that QRF isn’t more reliable than Associated Press polls in determining the top teams across the state.
The formula does not predict winners, however. An example of that happened Tuesday in Section 6-2A , which was QRF seeded. Top-seeded Pierz was the only non-upset in the bracket. No. 7 Sauk Centre (a 19.1 QRF) defeated No. 2 Osakis (41.3 QRF), No. 6 Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (24.4) bettered No. 3 Breckenridge (39.6) and Holdingford (26.5) upset No. 4 Upsala/Swanville (33.8).
We need to give the QRF a few years to let it evolve and for many to try and understand it. Harris said there was no complaint with the soccer playoffs. Of the 20 schools he deals with, only one has had an issue and it wasn’t a complaint.
What is for certain is that Weinzierl has done the state’s prep sports landscape a huge favor in coming up with an unbiased and fair way of seeding teams.
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.