, Muskogee, OK

February 10, 2013

OSSAA could cause more headaches for 6A football

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— Maybe, just maybe, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association has a communication problem with its members.

Who’s fault?  Well, I have a theory.

Consider what came out of last week’s board meeting regarding the future of 6A football.

Schools in that classification will be sent a ballot containing two options: 1) a measure similar to one that was already nixed, splitting 6A into two groups of 16 with the enrollment of each being a factor. That was pretty much the same thing that was rejected in December, which would have taken the top 16 and made a 7A out of them.

Instead, it’s a language thing – the top 16 will be 6A Division I, 17 through 32 (including Muskogee) will be Division II.

The other option keeps the current framework of four eight-team districts. But here’s the catch – the four biggest in each will play in a division within the district, so to speak.

Take the Roughers’ current home in 6A-2.  Broken Arrow, Jenks, Westmoore and Putnam City would have been in one group having the largest ADMs, or average daily membership (enrollment).

Muskogee, Sapulpa, Bixby and Edison would have made up the other division.  The two teams with the best record in games played within those groups would proceed to the playoffs – the larger group going to the upper division bracket and the smaller group to the Division II bracket, creating after three weeks of playoffs, two state champions in 6A.

While only the three games against your subgroup count, each team would play the same round-robin as they have against the seven other district teams.

Had that system been applied this past season, Jenks and Broken Arrow would have gone to Division I, Sapulpa and Bixby to Division II, with the Roughers third in that group.

Westmoore, which finished third this past season at 6-4, would go home under the proposed formula.  Muskogee, at 1-7 would have gone into the season finale against Bixby with a playoff spot on the line.  

Wonder if Westmoore has recognized this?

At its extreme, a team could go 8-2 and stay home, or 2-8 and sell playoff tickets. Once it happens, plug your ears for all the yelling “bloody murder” that will come from the 8-2 guys.

That proposal would have made more sense had it just said the 32 teams would be go into eight four-team divisions placed into four conferences, kind of like the “conferences” you have today.

And as anyone knows, a Frontier Conference championship in any sport is worthless when it comes to a postseason value. It’s nothing but an alliance of teams to get games.  

So no matter what the outcome of this vote, the 6A postseason will require, starting in 2014, three victories for a championship. Meanwhile, 5A plays four, and – courtesy of a measure awaiting approval that has been pitched by the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, 4A through 2A will become 48-member groups with eight six-team districts. Class 4A would, like 3A through A, have five-week playoff systems.

I’m sure coaches like Brandon Tyler at Vian would love to shorten the five-week playoff slate required to name a champion, or that Wagoner’s Dale Condict would prefer not to go to five-week postseasons should this proposal go into effect. The area’s two most successful programs have found over the past two seasons that winning comes with a price.  

When Hennessey traveled to Vian for a third-round showdown in 3A last season, Tyler counted a $16,000 gate. Prior to 2011, that kind of gate would have given the Vian athletic program $8,000 to pocket.

Under a formula adopted by the member schools before the 2011 season, Vian got $1,250, Hennessey got a gas allowance and the OSSAA disbursed the rest to spring sports such as golf, tennis and track, sports that are the lowest revenue sports across the board.

In two home playoff games, Wagoner sent $12,000 to the OSSAA. In a semifinal road game against Anadarko, the $900 they got dropped the program into the red based on gas and feeding players.

Many OFCA members seem to be hopping mad about this, especially good football programs that don’t have many spring sports. Yet collectively, their voting representatives voted the proposal through.

About six different voting members I talked to last week said the proposal was one of several items to vote on in the same package and that the wording was confusing to the point that, in the words of one voting member, yes appeared to mean no and no, yes.

Well, if it was that confusing, why didn’t anyone ask headquarters what the heck it was saying?

Based on the second option for 6A, I can see how confusion could reign, but at the same time, it doesn’t excuse the membership, all part of our tax-supported educational entities, from asking the necessary questions for clarification.

And in not doing so, some of you are seeing money that your school earned go elsewhere, money that will end up coming from your pocket as a taxpayer or a probably overworked-already  booster club.

No one could provide me with a copy of the amendment by the time I wrote this, so all we have is their word that it was confusing.

But the body wanted to free some of itself from the Jenkses, Unions and Broken Arrows, and one way or another they’ll get that.  All the while, the biggest school on the block has never won a state championship.

I guess that language didn’t register either.