Tennessee and Texas each begin with the same letter, but as far as high school football goes, that’s where the similarities begin and end.
So why, then, did the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association pass a measure that ensures nine state champions in football – one fewer than Texas awards in 11-man football – beginning next season?
Because, according to a board member in Wednesday’s meeting, it was not about championships, but because it was about the ability for kids to compete.
Wait, what? Compete for what? This isn’t the movie “Semi-Pro.” Kids aren’t competing for fourth place, no matter if their generation is receiving participation trophies for 17th place in an 18-team field.
It is about championships. That’s what players compete for, and that’s what the TSSAA makes money on at the end of the year.
Still, nine state champions? Texas has 10, and that state has a fairly superior brand of high-school football.
How long will it be before every team is in a district all by itself, so everyone can have a trophy?
Even though school hasn’t started yet, I’m grading some items (hit or miss) that the TSSAA voted on during Wednesday’s special session:
Hit: even numbers in Division I football classes
The TSSAA did get something right in abolishing the “Super 32” nonsense that is the current configuration of Class 6A. There’s no way that each team should advance to the postseason. You should have to work your way into a playoff spot, not receive one just for existing.
For bigger schools such as Hendersonville and Station Camp, it’s very possible – and one could say likely – that football goes back to Class 6A. The impact for schools such as Westmoreland, White House, Portland – and possibly Beech – remains to be seen. It may be as simple as removing some region opponents and introducing new ones to those teams, or some of them may shift. It’s simply too early to say without this year’s enrollment figures being finalized yet.
“We went to a meeting (Tuesday evening) and I think everywhere we looked, we would be one (class) under (Class 6A),” Portland High athletic director Ginger Lesemann said. “That would take into the consideration all the private schools moving out. I don’t know if they will or if they won’t (leave Division I). They have the choice. What we were shown were all the choices based on all the private schools gone. I don’t know if that will happen.”
There are too many classes in Division I for football. But, again, it’s about those championships, so the six-class system is here to stay.
Miss: Three Division II football classes
Pope John Paul II High will definitely be keeping an eye on those enrollment numbers until October, when independent schools must decide whether they will join Division II or not. In football, Division II-Class AA extends from 266-530 students. PJP II is not far from that 530 line, but the school is on the Class AAA side of that mark. For football, that’s not good, given the program’s recent history since Division II went from three classes to two (no winning seasons since it happened prior to the 2007 season).
PJP II needs to be in Class AA for football, and the numbers suggest it as well. Getting away from some of the current region opponents wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Knights.
Hit: Three even classes in soccer and volleyball
White House boys soccer coach Mark Lamberth said last month that he welcomed a third class in soccer, so the result should be good for the Blue Devils.
A third soccer class – with even numbers across the board – should help Merrol Hyde Magnet as well – as it may take the Chattanooga schools they currently face out of the equation when it comes to region tournament time.
It’s also potential good news for Portland, as the Panthers currently remain in District 9-AAA in all sports except football.
A move down to AA seems possible in at least soccer and volleyball, as those sports will be classified evenly throughout all Division I classes.
With the volleyball program’s recent run of success, the Lady Panthers may not have to go through Williamson County powerhouses anymore to reach the state tournament.
“It’s just when you work, work, work and then you end up playing the eventual state champions for like eight or nine years in a row, it gets frustrating,” Lesemann said. “If it wasn’t Brentwood, it was Ravenwood. That becomes frustrating. We’re at 1,100 (students) and they’re at 1,800 or 1,900. We’re not the same kind of schools that they are.”
Miss: no changes to baseball, basketball and softball
Baseball, basketball and softball each remained the same. There are enough schools in all three sports to support four classes. Any more than that and it’s too much, but four classes seemed like a decent setup.
Lesemann put it best, saying that 46 years with three classifications for basketball is too long to remain with the status quo.
“Somebody at the meeting brought up the fact that we’ve been in three classes since the 1970s,” Lesemann said. “We’re a whole lot different state since the 70s. We’ve grown. Just look at Sumner County and Wilson County. There needs to be something done.”
Something was done about some sports, and others were left alone. Some folks are likely happy, while there’s a decent chance that more won’t be as satisfied with the TSSAA’s votes. Still, until the classes are finalized, there’s going to be more speculation.
So, who else thinks that we’ll be talking about this again in two years?
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.