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TSSAA Board gets earful of football classification plans

TSSAA Board gets earful of football classification plans

By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
The TSSAA Board of Control did a lot of listening Tuesday night.
The group has yet to do any talking, though.
Executive director Bernard Childress presented both a five- and six-class plan for Division I football to the board at Tuesday’s reclassification workshop at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro.
And a four-class football system will be researched and presented either later today or Thursday at the urging of board member Jody Wright of Knoxville Fulton.
There was minimal discussion for a four-class system for non-football sports, though that was reportedly not well-received to a necessary total overhaul of the postseason for each of the sports if that plan were to be put in place.
The board of control took no vote on any plan and will likely begin debating the issue after a scheduled agenda of other matters is addressed today.
Sources told The Messenger a vote might not be taken until Thursday, with another saying the subject could be tabled until the board’s August meeting to give the board time to present the  options to coaches and administrators in their respective areas.
Currently, speculation has the board adopting a five- or six-class plan for football, while leaving the remainder of the sports in their current three-class state.
The reclassification process is revisited every four years, with the current debate and decision-making process going into effect with the 2013-14 school year.
Childress has acknowledged publicly the difficulty of the classification task facing the board, telling one reporter: “You’re not going to please everyone.”
The coming school year will be under the guidelines of the past three with football having three classes during the regular season before being divided into six for the playoffs and all other sports operating under a three-classification format.
The five-class system was used for football from 1993-2008 and in that plan, the top four finishers in each league made the playoffs.
The current six-class system has come under scrutiny due to the uncertainty of the playoff qualifiers that can sometimes be affected by results from one end of the state to the other. There have also been complaints about teams having “to play up” in classification within their own districts during the regular season, a factor that has altered some teams’ playoff positioning.
Even if the new plan is adopted by a board vote today or Thursday — or not until the August meeting — the specific battle lines of each district/region will not be known until November.
Enrollment figures taken once school begins in August will determine both league destinations and classifications.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 6.13.12

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