When something new is introduced, invariably there will be those who murmur and complain and want to go back to the old way.
Moses ran into that problem in the wilderness when the children of Israel longed to go back to the “fleshpots” of Egypt — where they were slaves.
God’s answer was to send them something new — manna from heaven (I personally believe that was the creation of Krispy Kreme Donuts).
It was different. It was better. But after a while they even complained about it.
The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s Board of Control will meet tomorrow to determine the football playoff system for the 2013-2016 seasons.
The choices on the table are either to continue with the six-division system that was put in place three years ago or return to the five-class plan that was used for the previous 15 years.
Under the old system teams were divided into large “regions” with schools often separated by great distance.
Bradley fans remember those trips to Knoxville, Blount County and Oak Ridge, while Cleveland and Walker Valley lucked out with White County being their only region opponent more than two counties away in the latter years.
Although the current system has a few “bugs” concerning playoff notification timing, the regular season is much better with the majority of teams playing in close-knit districts, which creates natural geographic rivalries.
Closer opponents, mean less travel expense (for fans and teams), plus larger “gates” (revenue coming into the schools) with more fans likely to attend a game 30 miles away than in a different time zone.
If they go back to the old system, the Bears and Mustangs would be put in a region that would also include current district holdovers McMinn County and Soddy-Daisy, along with four teams from the central time zone — Lincoln County, Warren County, Coffee County and Franklin County.
So that would mean at least two 100-plus mile trips across Monteagle Mountain every season, plus the other two Middle Tennessee teams would have very few fans to make the long trek here for games.
Under those same circumstances, Cleveland’s region would be a little better with Hamilton County teams from Ooltewah, East Hamilton and Chattanooga Central, plus current district member Rhea County, but the other trips would be to Sequoyah, 50 miles to the north, and White County, over 100 miles to the west, with no easy, direct way to get there.
Along with the greater distances between schools, plus the lack of interest among fans and players of facing squads we have nothing in common, the other big problem with the former plan was inequality in the playoff setup.
The top four teams from each “region” advanced to the post season. With some regions only having five teams, that meant 80 percent of them were making the playoffs each year, regardless of their record.
There were plenty of teams with 3-7, 2-8 and even some 1-9 squads on the playoffs, while teams from larger regions that may have finished 5-5 or even 6-4 didn’t advanced because their region had seven, eight or nine teams.
The current “Z-plan” format only guarantees two teams from each “district” a spot in the playoffs, thus eliminating the majority of teams with losing records, although every now and then one slips in, again due to having won or placed second in a five-team district.
The rest of the playoff bracket is filled by “wild-card” teams based on a 16-point criteria, which can get a little convoluted at times, but all-in-all does a good job of rewarding the most deserving teams.
The biggest complaint about the current system is the fact the playoff bracket can’t be set until the final regular season game is played.
Not only does every regular season game have an effect on who makes the playoffs, but also the makeup and seeding of the eight geographical “quadrants” the tournaments are divided into.
Coaches who know by week 7, 8 or 9 that their teams are going to make the playoffs, like to be able to look ahead and see who they may be playing in the first couple of rounds of the post season. Under the current system, that can’t accurately be done because so many things can change on that final night.
While a lot of football coaches don’t like the setup, that’s the way the TSSAA does the state tournament brackets in volleyball, soccer, bowling, basketball, baseball, softball and wrestling. Everybody finds out at the same time and has the same amount of time to prepare.
I like the excitement the reveal creates. Much like the March Madness bracket announcements. You have some teams excited and other disappointed, but either way its good entertainment.
I know whichever way the board votes tomorrow, some people will be happy and others upset. It’s a lot like umpiring — you are never going to have everybody agree with you.
While I realize we have people and coaches in our area on both sides of the playoff format fence, I’d like to offer my two cents worth.
If I have to chose between the old system and the Z-plan, I prefer the latter. It makes more sense (financially and emotionally) to play teams closer to you.
However, as with many things in life, I have my own opinion of how the situation should really be handled, but the problem is nobody ever asks me.
Here’s my simple solution — don’t have a separate classification breakdown for football.
The other major sports — basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball — are all divided into three classifications, so why not keep football playing against the same classification in the playoffs as they did in the regular season.
I know the other sports can play postseason games on consecutive days, while football is a once a week situation, but I’m sure a satisfactory playoff bracket could be worked out with maybe the top six or eight teams from a region (two districts) being placed in a bracket.
You might have to eliminate the bye weeks of the regular season to allow for another round of playoffs or even go a little deeper into December for the championship game, but that wouldn’t sit well with the winter sports coaches.
Maybe I should have sent my plan to the committee back in the spring so it could have been considered.
Oh well, I’m sure whichever plan they decide go with be scrutinized again in four years when its time to vote on it again. Maybe I can have my plan fully worked out by then.