Developer Of State's Football Computer Ratings Dead At 75
February 25, 2002 at 7:55 PM EST - Updated July 3 at 5:00 PM
WILLOWICK, Ohio (AP) - Jack L. Harbin, the man who transformed Ohio high school football but never saw a playoff game, is dead at 75.
Harbin, who died Thursday at his home in Willowick, developed the computer program now used for determining the state's high school playoff teams. The Ohio High School Athletic Association adopted his rating system in 1972. Modified over the years, it remains the basis of how playoff teams in the state are determined.
"He had a deep sense of fair play and he thought it needed to be brought to football," his son Timothy said.
Harbin's computer ratings were based on a point system, with a team receiving points for each of its wins and each of the wins of its opponents. Extra weight was added for victories over larger schools with bigger enrollments.
The Cleveland native was volunteering as an assistant coach at Wickliffe High School in 1959 when the team went 9-0. At that time, the OHSAA did not have a playoff system and the state champions were determined by wire-service polls.
Believing that Wickliffe could have won a state title if its season were compared to others, Harbin developed his computer ratings.
He presented his system to the OHSAA in the early 1970s and it was soon adopted and then modified over the years.
Harbin, who served in the navy before working in his family's cash-register business, was a handicapper at Thistledown Race Track, announced race results on radio and shared his predictions in newspapers. He made his living customizing, repairing and selling cash registers.
In addition to his wife of 51 years, Rose, and his son, Harbin is survived by three other sons and two daughters along with three grandchildren.
Funeral services were set for Monday night at Jack Monreal Funeral Home in Willowick.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)