Three classes or four?
Perhaps the bigger question is four teams or eight?
The TSSAA will hold its Board of Control reclassification workshop session at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Embassy Suites & Convention Center with discussions on multiple classification plans. Those plans include a five-class and a six-class plan for football as well as various types of three-class systems and a four-class system for non-football sports.
A change in non-football classifications has created some mixed opinions among Rutherford County coaches whose teams would be effected by the change.
Sports likely effected by the move to four classes would be baseball, basketball and softball. Depending on the growth in number of teams, the TSSAA could consider an additional class in soccer, which currently has two in Division I. The TSSAA added a third Division I classification for volleyball when it went through its last reclassification prior to the 2009-10 school year.
However, if the TSSAA chooses to add a classification, it also will likely reduce the number of teams it brings to the state tournament from eight to four.
“I’d like to see four classes overall,” Oakland boys basketball coach Mike Wright said. “I think they will change the format anyway (to four teams).
“I think with the number of schools in the state, four classes in every sport make the most sense.”
Blackman girls basketball coach Chad Hibdon and Cannon County girls basketball coach Michael Dodgen doesn’t want a change in the current plan.
“I like the tradition of just the single, double and triple A,” Hibdon said. “I like the old tradition. You know the routine. Anytime there is change, you have to adjust.”
Added Dodson, “I’m under the old adage if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The board is expected to meet for about three hours on Tuesday. It may not vote on a plan until Thursday, and could go through the meetings without voting, forcing a special-called meeting in July. A new classification plan would not go into place until the 2013-14 school year.
The TSSAA goes through reclassification every four years.
What makes this year’s reclassification so intriguing is the possibility of big changes to non-football sports. Football went from five classes to six in 2009. Basketball and baseball have had a three-class system since the 1976-77 when it bumped up from two classes. Softball has been a three-class system since it became a TSSAA sport in 1979.
Riverdale baseball coach Barry Messer had a brief conversation with TSSAA assistant director Gene Menees during the Class AAA state baseball tournament. Menees discussed the four-class plan in general terms at that time. Messer said if there were changes, he’d like to see a change in the region tournament format.
“I don’t necessarily like that,” Messer said. “I think in this area it’s hard to get there with eight.
“I would like to see a best two-of-three series or a double elmination in the region. It needs to be more than one game.”
Messer pointed out teams in District 7-AAA wouldn’t see much change in a four-class system. All six teams would be in the state’s largest classification.
However, it could change their region opponents. Both Columbia and Tullahoma would likely stay in Class 3A.
“I would be OK with the three classifications,” Messer said. “But I think there should be more than a single play-in game. That would take the pressure off your Number 1 (pitcher). There would be less pressure to throw on short notice.”