Jack DuBois feels Tuesday could have been the turning point in the NJSIAA’s latest attempt to implement a playoff system that will enable public schools to play out to overall state group football championships beginning in 2014.
“I went home feeling really good,” said DuBois, an assistant director for the NJSIAA who oversees football for the association.
DuBois had chaired a meeting of two represenatives from each of the 15 member conferences around the state that have football leagues.
That group developed a plan that will have the season start one week earlier and end one week later than it currently does. That plan was presented to the NJSIAA’s executive committee on Wednesday.
“Prior to it (Tuesday’s meeting), I wasn’t so sure,” DuBois said. “I was getting a lot of negative vibes. Since we included everybody, every conference, with their ability to have input and to say what they felt, I think it could work in our favor.”
“There was great interaction (at Tuesday’s meeting),” said NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko, . “I sat at the back of the room. It was fantastic. If there was any comment that needed to be said, they had an ability to say it. It was total cooperation.
“They couldn’t comment enough after the meeting was over, saying how positive the interaction was and how open it was. It was totally a collegial discussion that took place.”
If the NJSIAA is able to implement a playoff system. the 2014 season would start on Sept. 5 and end on Dec. 12 with the five public school state group championship meetings at neutral sites. The public school playoffs currently end with sectional championships. The NJSIAA playoffs began in 1974.
The non-public school playoffs would conclude on Nov. 21-22 with the four non-public group state championship games at neutal sites. Those schools would be ending their playoffs three weeks before the public school playoffs conclude and those state finalists would only play 12 games, as opposed to the 14 the public school state finalists would play.
The plan has schools playing a nine-game regular-season schedule. Thanksgiving weekend games will not be impacted. If a school’s ninth regular-season game is the Thanksgiving game, then their conference will build a bye into their schedule and those schools will play eight games in the first nine weeks of the season.
Under the plan, the 2014 playoffs would begin on Nov. 7-8. The Thanksgiving games would come after the public school sectional championship games and the non-public school state championship games. The public school state group semifinals and state group championships would be played in the two weeks after Thanksgiving.
Those schools who do not qualify for the playoffs will play one consolation game with the option of playing that either Nov. 7-8 or Nov. 14-15.
On Dec. 2, the NJSIAA membership will vote at its annual meeting at the Pines Manor in Edison to eliminate a sentence in Article IX of its constitution that states, “No state championships, however, shall be declared in football.” Two-thirds of those who vote at that meeting need to approve eliminating that sentence. A similar attempt in 2011 fell 23 votes shy of the two-thirds of those who signed in at that meeting. If the membership votes to eliminate that sentence, the plan would then go to the NJSIAA’s football and executive committees early in 2014.