Six weeks are better than none
So, the Ohio High School Athletic Association went and did it.
The organizing body for high school sports in the state conferred with all the right people — school superintendents, principals, athletic administrators and coaches — and came up with a plan for high school football this fall that is designed to have something for everyone.
Of course, since they didn’t confer with each individual Joe Fan in Ohio, most of them will think the plan is terrible.
Whatever the decision the OHSAA came up with — and it still hinges on Gov. Mike DeWine’s office allowing football to be played in the state — you can be sure it would not appeal to everyone. That’s just the nature of these types of situations.
Jeff Cassella, athletic administrator at Mentor High School, is president of the OHSAA Board of Directors. In a press release from the OHSAA, he outlined the positives of the plan.
“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletics but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools.
“Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season. Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”
The plan makes every school eligible for the playoffs — though they are not required to participate — which would begin Oct. 9, originally Week 7 of the season. The state championship games would be played no later than Nov. 21, which means the playoffs could last seven weeks, though the number of playoff rounds is dependent on the number of schools entering the playoffs in a particular division.
Teams must commit to playing in the playoffs by Sept. 17, but they can withdraw without penalty until Sept. 24.
The current regional alignments are no more. New playoff regions will be drawn on Sept. 18 and playoff seeding will be done via a vote of coaches the week of Sept. 28. The Harbin computer ratings will be suspended for the 2020 season.
An interesting factor — as if everything in 2020 hasn’t been interesting — is that once teams are eliminated from the playoffs, they still could schedule regular season games through Nov. 14, with a limit of 10.
Also, teams that are ready to start the season on time (the weekend of Aug. 27-29) can do so, while those that prefer to delay the start of the season still have a chance to play 10 games.
All regular season game contracts are voidable by either school, especially in the event that conferences want to fit league games into the first six weeks of the season.
So, the powers that be have come up with a plan that doesn’t entirely satisfy anyone, but at least offers something for all — a football season.
Football programs that are serious about winning state championships have that goal still available to them. And those schools that take the attitude they are providing their student-athletes who love football a chance to compete in the sport as an extra-curricular activity can still play a 10-game season.
Let’s not forget that a very contagious and deadly virus is still roaming around and young athletes competing physically at close quarters is a prime way for the virus to be spread. That is the first and most important factor being considered by those making decisions regarding high school sports.
In the end, the decision might come that there will be no season at all, despite all the work put in by administrators and coaches to try to make things as safe as possible.
That might have all the Joe Fans out there thinking they would prefer that crazy six-week plan that had everyone making the playoffs.