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OHSAA makes right call



Published: Sun, May 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Heaven knows, we've taken our fair share of shots at the Ohio High School Athletic Association from this corner.

But, the news out of Columbus late this week deserves some applause, as far as we're concerned.

Former Cardinal Mooney High coach Don Bucci, who still serves as District 8 chief of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, told us that the OHSAA Board of Control voted to approve a second scrimmage for football, starting this season.

That may not seem like much news to many, but for Bucci and the coaches association, it is the culmination of a long, sometimes tedious, uphill process.

Eliminated scrimmage: High schools were permitted two preseason scrimmages for many years before the OHSAA, again at the behest of the coaches association, adopted an expanded post-season playoff format for the 1999 season.

The state doubled the number of teams that would qualify for the tournament, but to do so -- and complete the post-season in a timely fashion -- ordered the season to begin a week earlier.

Which led us to the current scheduling process of two games before Labor Day.

But, in doing so, the OHSAA eliminated one of the two preseason scrimmages.

Almost immediately, high school coaches around the state called time out.

They almost universally endorsed the expanded playoffs, but not at the expense of a scrimmage.

Best of both worlds: Which leads us to this week's decision by the OHSAA Board of Control.

According to Bucci, what the board agreed to was this: Teams will still practice for seven days (including three days of acclimation) starting the first week of August.

For the schools which open for class prior to Aug. 20, they can start practice on Aug. 3. For the "98 percent," according to Bucci, which start school after Aug. 20, the first practice date is Aug. 6.

Teams will then be allowed two scrimmages between Aug. 14, a Tuesday, and Aug. 18, the following Saturday.

Bucci said he expects most schools will go on a Tuesday-Friday schedule, allowing players and coaches to get used to having a full week off before the first regular season game.

"We were really pushing for this from a safety point of view," said Bucci. "Kids were just not physically ready for that first [regular season] game with only one scrimmage."

Teaching time: There don't appear to be any hard and fast numbers detailing the injuries that are incurred the first week or two, as opposed to later in the season, but most coaches, undoubtedly, will enjoy the extra scrimmage for coaching purposes, as well.

And, for the record, we're still opposed to the expanded playoffs. Granted, it seems to be working pretty well, but a post-season that lasts half as long as the regular season seems a bit much.

Besides, if the OHSAA and football coaches association had been more truthful when they passed the legislation, it might make it easier for us to swallow.

When announcing the expansion, the bodies subjected us to tired clich & eacute;s of, "It'll allow more communities to experience the excitement of playoff football," and, "Deserving teams were being left out of the tournament," while all the while we could see dollar signs flashing in their eyes (at least, in the OHSAA's).

And, if the OHSAA and the coaches association truly wanted a representative tournament, they'd eliminate the time-worn regional setup and advance the top 32 point-earning teams, period.

But, these things take time, and heaven knows, when it comes to the OHSAA, common sense is a process of crawling, not walking.

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. You can reach him at todor@vindy.com.




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