After years of wading through a number of proposals from the Indiana Football Coaches Association, the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee has changed the look of high school football playoffs — and at the same time changed all high school sports come 2013-14.
The committee voted 13-5 to add a class to the football playoffs starting in the fall of 2013 when there will be a Class 6A. Currently there are five classes of football. Each class has 64 teams (except for class A which has xxx teams). Under the new system the largest 32 teams will now be classified as Class 6A, while the next largest 32 teams will be in Class 5A. Classes A through 4A will remain the same.
The playoffs from Class A through 4A will remain the same with three weeks of sectional play, then a regional, semi-state and state championship games. All Class 5A and 6A teams will get a one week bye and then begin their playoffs in the semifinal rounds of the traditional playoff schedule.
Adding a new class doesn’t affect any of the schools as all are in the bottom three classes. Still Charley German, the veteran head coach in the area, thinks its a nice move.
“It won’t impact us, but it’s only fair and it levels the field for the bigger schools,” he said. “Right now you have the Carmels, North Centrals and Ben Davises with upward of 4,000 students. The bottom schools of the current class 5A may have an enrollment of just 1,500 or so. That’s nearly three times as many students and there is no where near that kind of a spread in any other class. I think it’s a good move.”
“I am extremely encouraged by the vision and valor of our executive committee in making these progressive decisions on behalf of student-athletes in the Hoosier state,” IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said. “It is my belief that these changes significantly address competition issues in football and will prove to enhance the team sport experience across all other disciplines.”
The second part of the new rules passed by the committee could have an impact on local teams. It’s called the success factor.
A school will receive one point for winning a sectional, two for a regional, three for the semistate and four for winning a state title. During any two-year period if a school accumulates six points in any team sport that school will be forced to move up a class. For example, if a team wins the regional one year and then wins a state title the next it would be forced to move up a class the following year. Or if a team won back-to-back semistates it would be forced to move up.
Should a school earn six points or more during a specified two-year period that school would compete in the next higher enrollment class for the ensuing two seasons. Tournament success achieved during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years will be used to determine classifications in 2013-14.
“The driving force behind this is the parochial schools,” North Montgomery Athletics Director Matt Merica said. “For years coaches have been complaining about trying to level the playing field and I think this is a nice step in that direction. There have been all kinds of proposals out there like a multiplier, but this one got enough support and got passed. I think it has good merits to it.”
Just because a school gets moved up in one sport does not mean it will get moved up in other sports.
Had the new rules been in place the only Montgomery County team that would have been affected would have been the North Montgomery football team when it won back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996. Crawfordsville’s baseball team in recent years would have come close but the most points it would have earned in a two-year period would have been five, not the six needed to move up.
German said the IFCA had proposed a four-year tradition plan, which was similar to the “success factor” which was passed.
“I think they (the executive committee) probably just weren’t really comfortable doing it for one sport,” German said. “I really think it’s not a bad thing.”
German sees all the changes as good, but not without their issues.
“I have been around long enough to see a lot of things,” he said. “When I first started everyone was down in October as there were no playoffs. Then we went to a cluster system, which wasn’t the greatest by any means, but it was something. Then they went to a format where everyone was put into the playoffs and I really think that has propelled football to where it is today. We have more Division I players than ever before and I think it is because the game is so popular and a lot of that is because of the playoffs. This is another step in the right direction. It might need to be tweaked but I see it as a positive move.”
Will this put to bed the private-public debate, especially in football? Probably not, but like German said, “It’s a move in the right direction.”