, Muskogee, OK

February 3, 2013

Final formula in Class 6A may simply add water

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— Oklahoma may look a little more like Texas as early as Wednesday, when a proposal goes before the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association that would create two championship games within Class 6A football.

This is in response to growing criticism of the imbalance of enrollments among 6A schools. You could fit three Ponca Citys (1,477 average daily membership numbers in 2012) into Broken Arrow (4,586.21). Ponca City hasn’t come close to Broken Arrow’s success in the playoffs, but then, Broken Arrow, like all but two Class 6A teams, doesn’t know what it’s like to hoist a gold ball because since 1997, it hasn’t.

But Union (4,237) and Jenks (3,077) have, and they are 2-3 in the enrollment numbers. Muskogee sits 21st at 1,540.

A source with knowledge of the proposal, the second since the issue was forced off the table a few months ago by, in part, Jenks and Union, says it would theoretically take the four 6A districts, which are scheduled for a  biannual realignment in July, and place the two largest schools among the top four finishers in each district into 6A Division I.

The other two from the top four in each district would go to Division II, just as Texas does in each of its classifications. This would free Division II from the biggest three and probably four, since Owasso, just like now, isn’t likely to have two of the biggest three in its district.

The proposal won’t stop Jenks and Union from continuing their dominance, but it will mean another 6A team will be able to call itself a state champion.

There’s no doubting the gap in 6A. In no other class does anyone double, let alone triple, its competition in numbers. And there’s certainly justification for that.

What you won’t see, however, is the courage of the coaches and the OSSAA to get radical and prevent this from being what it will be – a ninth state championship. Want to be like Texas? Fine, but it’s an apples-to-oranges thing. Texas’ classifications, A to 5A, have 32 districts, most of which play six playoff games to win state. In 4A to 6A in Oklahoma, there’s 32 teams per group.

And now, there will be two 16-team brackets, three wins needed to win state. Nine state champions in all, compared to 12 for Texas.

Like Texas? How about like the YMCA?

Give me the value of a state championship in Texas versus here any time, especially if you require its biggest and best to play twice as many playoff games to get there. I’ll take the value of a A, 2A or 3A championship in Oklahoma to a pair of 6A trophies – it takes those teams five weeks to get a gold ball.

Those smaller class coaches are becoming aware of the 6A proposal, which leaked even though the big-school coaches have been tight-lipped about it. And it seems they’re not happy that a job that was given the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association as a whole is now being separated for the big boys to take care of.

They came up with their own proposal a week ago but were apparently told by the OSSAA to keep their thoughts to 4A and below (which tells me think if 5A gets to do what 6A will, just add some more water to the mix of how to make a state champion).

Class 5A’s range from 678 to 1,254 may seem unfair for Chickasha, but it’s still not even double the difference of Del City’s 1,254. And amid all this, look for 4A to absorb some of 3A as 4A-A are spread out a little more, which is a  good thing in that it would add a fifth week to their playoff hunt.

The bad side, it will add more non-district games which can be canceled at the drop of a lightning bolt. Six-game schedules in a stormy September, fellas?

What the OSSAA and the coaches need to do is set the top 16 teams in a super conference and separate the lower half of 6A, all of 5A and 4A into two classifications of eight districts.

The scheduling problem for what would end up being 6A (top 16) wouldn’t be as difficult a problem as some might claim since some of those are already taking in out-of-state trips, and it’s not like the new 5A is not going to be open for games that ultimately are nothing but tune-ups.

Class 4A would range from 497 students to 849 and 5A from 888 to 1,722.

Would this help a school like Muskogee? Either way would.

It’s just that one should award the 6A champs with ribbons instead of trophies. The other keeps a little more demand in the scheduling.

But I’m not holding my breath on the sensible solution emerging.

And it wouldn’t surprise me to wake up one day to 32 state champions.

Everybody hits, everybody scores.

Stay tuned.