Well the KHSAA has done it again.
When you thought that our state high school athletic committee, of a few select people, would be trying to redeem themselves from their private-public school debacle from six months ago — they go and do something even stranger, and totally unexpected, in a recent KHSAA board meeting.
Within five minutes and with no input from the high school football coaches and programs affected, the KHSAA totally realigned the present football playoff system. Even more amazing, the football playoff realignment was not even on the agenda. Talk of the possible added 5A and 6A classification was to be discussed at the meeting, but it was tabled and a whole other issue of the playoff system was discussed, voted on and set into place without any football coach in the state of Kentucky knowing about it, other than the football coaches on the KHSAA board.
In essence, the playoff change would require district high school football rivals to meet in earlier rounds of the playoffs rather than the finals, under a plan approved by a Kentucky High School Athletic Association panel.
Touted as a cost-saving maneuver, high school football teams would meet within their respective districts for the first two rounds of the playoffs. The KHSAA’s Board of Control approved the plan Tuesday.
Previously, schools played other teams outside their districts in the early rounds.
“It definitely is going to save travel money on the first two rounds, because you’re going to be playing closer to home,” said Julian Tackett, KHSAA assistant commissioner.
On paper, the new plan seems, somewhat, cost-efficient, but for many of Kentucky’s high school football coaches — the new plan was not well thought out and it was probably put in place for the wrong reasons.
Southwestern football coach Dale Anderson, who serves on the state’s football advisory committee, was shocked when he heard the sudden news of the changes made to this upcoming season playoff system.
“I was at a track meet all this week and I get back to my office and I have thousands of e-mails from football coaches asking me what was going on,” Anderson said. “I had no idea the KHSAA was going to change the entire playoff system in one day. I was totally caught off guard on this one.”
The new playoff system will bring up some unique twists for the post-season of Pulaski County and Southwestern High School. Both teams are in the same district, but have never played each other in post-season playoffs. But now, with the top four seeds playing each other in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the two local teams are almost guaranteed to play each other in post-season.
But if the two teams were to claim the third and fourth district seeds, they would have to play each other in the first round of the playoffs. This is problematic, since the two county schools have traditionally played each other in their last game of the regular season.
“This new playoff system brings up a whole new set of problems and some new teams to have to scout on a short notice,” Anderson said. “We will have to be careful and not show district teams a lot in regular season games and we will have to look at a whole new group of teams that we might could face in the fourth round of the playoffs.”
But for Somerset coach Jay Cobb, not a lot changed in his particular setting, but he felt that the changes will hurt the game of football, as a whole, in the state of Kentucky.
“I don’t understand the logic in their decision (to change the current playoff system) and I think the changes were not well thought through,” Cobb said. “I think two issues were driving the wagon in their decision — the public-private school issue and transportation cost.”
There is no doubt that the KHSAA was trying cover up the mess they made by overruling their school members’ unanimous decision to separate private and public schools in post-season play. The new playoff system was an attempt to satisfy some off the public 4A schools. The new playoff system would possibly match-up Trinity and St. Xavier — the two best programs in the state— in the third round of the playoffs, instead of the finals, thus giving a public school team a chance to make it into the finals of the 4A playoffs.
Jim Sexton, a board member and principal at Louisville’s Eastern High School, said he opposed the new format because it would prevent an “all-Louisville final.”
“It seemed like Louisville again got the short end of the stick,” Sexton said.
The new playoff system has some more glaring drawbacks.
“I always thought that your regular season district games were suppose to mean something,” Cobb said. “Also, a strong team in a weak district could run through the playoffs with blowout wins.”
Cobb stated many other problems with the new playoff system such as a weaken 4A championship game, problems with coaches acquiring game film from new playoff schools and the blind draw in regional match-ups could cost a lot more in transportation expenses.
This will probably be the first of many strange decisions made by the KHSAA in an effort to avert attention away from the private school’s alleged recruiting practices. It is obvious that they have no intention of splitting the private and public schools, but they are trying to appease some of the public schools. little by little, with these token amendments.
Well the KHSAA has done it again.