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TSSAA chooses to keep 6-class football playoff system

TSSAA chooses to keep 6-class football playoff system
Messenger Sports
Four more years.
That is basically what the TSSAA Board of Control said Monday afternoon in regard to football classification for the state’s Division I schools.
Ending a summer-long debate on the direction of high school football in Tennessee, the board voted 5-4 to simply keep things the way they are.
After Jerry Mathis of Tullahoma made the motion to stay with six playoff classes, which was seconded by Fred Kessler of Bolivar, the members voting in favor included Chuck West of Dresden, Ike White of Westwood and Tommy Layne of Sequatchie County.
Voting against the proposal were Bryan True of Lewis County, Steve Chauncy of Hillwood, Jody Wright of Knoxville Fulton and board president Mike Reed of Morristown.
West said most everything that needed to be discussed prior to the vote had already been done in the year leading up to the June meeting and then at that June gathering. The time between that meeting and Monday’s was used by board members to get information to the schools in their respective areas and feedback from those institutions.
“We tried to get information out to all the schools,” West told The Press on Monday afternoon. “I had communication with every school I represent in West Tennessee.”
So, through the 2016-17 school year, Division I football across the Volunteer State will play in three classifications during the regular season and then split into six classes for the postseason.
The number of football-playing schools in Class A will be split evenly into 1A and 2A for the playoffs, with that same divide occurring for AA (3A and 4A) and AAA (5A and 6A).
Host schools for the semifinals will be pre-determined by their position in the bracket rather than their seed. During odd years, the top team in the bracket will host, while the bottom team will be at home in the even years.
West indicated that potential lost revenue through the elimination of a bracket was not an issue in his vote and said the executives at the TSSAA office urged them not to make a decision on money alone.
“It was not a factor in my vote, and I don’t think it was the riding factor in anyone else’s vote,” West said. “Obviously, it’s there, but it did not play a role in my thoughts on the issue. And, the people at the state office told us that we had played with five classes before and would be fine if we went back to it. Our votes were based more on what we thought was best for our schools and the schools we represent.”
The current system has been maligned by fans across the state as hard to understand, a problem West acknowledges. And, while he believes the current system has become a little easier to understand each year, things could be done to make it more fan-friendly.
“There will probably be some things done,” he said. “Exactly what, I don’t know at this point.”
West pointed out the change to the system that doesn’t punish schools for playing tougher schedules as one tweak that has helped. Another possible tweak could be to change the pecking order of the tiebreaker system, for instance keeping games played between teams from other states from having much influence in determining what squads make the TSSAA playoff brackets.
The current football system has been in place since 2009. Prior to that, the state’s Division I schools were divided into five classifications with eight regions in each class. The top four teams from each region advanced to the playoffs. That system had been in place since 1993.
The board also stayed with the current three-class system for the non-financial aid division on all sports except football.
West made a motion to split those three-class sports into four classes, but there was no second to the motion.
“I made that motion because some of our people are adamant that there be more than three classes in those sports,” West said.
Other decisions from Monday’s Board of Control meeting was to continue re-evaluating enrollments every two years and move schools that have a 20 percent increase or decrease into another classification.
The board also voted to send the staff’s recommendation of district and region alignments for the next classification period to all member schools prior to the November board meeting.
The TSSAA will get enrollment figures from the state after the first 20 days of school and then use that to set the overall classifications.
Schools will be given time to decide on the options of playing in Division I or II and of playing up a classification before the TSSAA lays out the state map along district and regional lines. Published in The Messenger 7.17.12

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