GAINESVILLE – Something familiar, bold, but also adventuring into the unknown is what the current status of the Florida High School Athletic Association’s football playoff proposal is standing at after Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting.
The playoff proposal which has been a hot topic in the state since it was first introduced earlier in the year, has significantly come a long ways
The proposal as it stands now would see Classes 1A to 4A abandoned the district format with all schools getting assigned to one of four regions in each classification, while Classes 5A to 8A would retain the 16-district format for each class. That means teams in Classes 1A to 4A would be responsible for finding all 10 of their opponents for the regular season, while teams in Classes 5A to 8A would still have a set number of teams the would be required to play. All classes however, would see the playoffs seeded in each region through a points system modeled after the Nebraska point system, with district champions in Classes 5A through 8A being guaranteed a spot in the playoffs no matter the record.
Teams in Classes 1A to 4A that feel they will not be able to schedule a full 10-game schedule will be provided an option to move up into a higher classification between Classes 5A through 8A that would the teams to be able to have a guaranteed set of games while being able to fill out the rest of the schedule.
The discussion ultimately today was to put the proposal in front of the FHSAA Board of Directors and give them a sense of how the proposal would look as well as gather feedback and answer any questions in regards to the proposal.
It was noted during the presentation that 16 schools that reached the playoffs last season had losing records while 35 had records at .500 or above, but missed out in extending the season for an extra week. That number shocked some people in the process, but it has been all-to-familiar setting that has taken place in Florida the last few years.
A survey taken by the FHSAA going to athletic directors and coaches directly received an overwhelming response rate – over 500 programs responding – with 70% saying they wanted some kind of change to the playoff format. As such, it took into consideration what the small school and large school members saying which resulted in the proposal that was presented today.
And perhaps the bigger number is the number that comes from the schools that declare themselves independent currently. Over 30 of those schools told the FHSAA during the survey they would consider having their football team reenter the state series if the proposal for the smaller school classifications were to become a reality. That would be considered a huge shift as currently there are over 70 schools that declare themselves independent with the FHSAA. 13 schools did say they would stay independent no matter what changes are made.
Chuck Sennett, Athletic Director at Miami Country Day who is also one of the Board of Director members, said “It is going to save football in some schools and make football so much more exciting in others,” in regards to the proposal. Miami Country Day which is one of the 12 member schools of the independent Southeastern Football Conference would consider rejoining the state series if the proposal becomes a reality.
The biggest striking thing that might have stuck out was about needing to adapt to the times and make things safer for the schools.
“We have to do something with our playoffs to keep up with the times and improve player safety,” FHSAA Football Administrator told the audience.
In the end better seems to be the key word that has the Board of Directors members looking up at the proposal.
I think the FHSAA football playoff proposal is a change for the better,” Taylor County and Board of Director member Paul Dyal said, who has seen travel issues for Taylor County high school be a problem over the last few years.
Overall, the football playoff proposal is just one step in several steps that Beasley that would revamp the way the entire state series looks in football with the FHSAA!
The next steps to be taken before the playoff proposal becomes a total reality is for it to be voted upon by the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee before going up for an official vote by the Board of Directors, which all of that could be finalized by November.
NOTE: We will bring you more reaction from coaches around the state in regards to the playoff proposal at the FACA Convention on Thursday and Friday along with partner, HSPN Sports.
In other actions taken by the FHSAA Board of Directors:
• Approved 13 new member high school/combination schools for membership for the 2016-17 school year, while one more school was approved for membership as long as insurance documents were received by June 30.
• Approved renewal of membership for all schools that submitted applications to renewal with a lot of member schools taking advantage of the new five-year renewal option. Only one private school – IMG Academy – elected to continue membership in the FHSAA as a per sport member.
• Approved a contract with Paragon Sports Marketing for the Champions Football Bowl Series which was first launched in 2014 with Burger King as a sponsor. While there was no bowl series for last season, it was noted that there is a sponsor already lined up this year. However, there are no guarantee if any of the games will be played in Florida, but the contract does allow for one or more Florida schools to participate in the bowl series.
• Approved a new dual-meet wrestling state tournament for the 2017-18 school year that will be incorporated into the FHSAA wrestling season. The approval came after the proposal was tabled at the last Board of Director’s meeting in April. This will bring the number of states to offer a dual-meet wrestling state tournament to 20.
• FHSAA recognized the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) state coaches of the year including former American Heritage-Plantation head coach Mike Rumph as the Florida Statewide Coach of the Year by the NFHS. It also recognized Champion, the sponsor of “Drive to December” with the Outstanding Service Award for 2015.
• The Board of Directors formally accepted the resignation and retirement of FHSAA Executive Director, Dr. Roger Dearing, who announced his intentions back at the start of the month. A two-month advertising window in searching for a new Executive Director will launch tomorrow and stay open until August 15.