Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Week's Games

OK, I'm assuming that you agree that the KHSAA football playoffs are neither entertaining nor fair.  There are too many blowouts, too few games between good teams, and at the end of the season you have six different champions, each of which rules over something like 30 teams.  But could we do better?  I think we could do much better.  Here's my suggestion:

In the first place, we don't need six classes -- the NCAA (which covers nearly 1,100 member schools) only has four.  I suggest that the KHSAA go with two classes:

Class 1:  This is the real state champion.  There are four regions:  Western Kentucky, Jefferson County, Central Kentucky (including NoKy), and Eastern Kentucky.  Eight teams in each region make the playoffs.  (This year, I would expect to see Mayfield meet Bowling Green for the championship of Western Kentucky, assuming that Mayfield got past McCracken in the playoffs.)  The semi-finals are played at U of L on the week before Thanksgiving.  The final is played at UK the week after Thanksgiving.  Next year we switch – playing the finals at U of L, and the semi-finals at UK.  Any team that wins the title in Class 2 automatically gets at least five years in Class 1.  Public Schools have to meet certain standards of quality, funding and attendance to stay in Class 1.  Private Schools must play in Class 1 unless they agree to very strict limitations on the type of students they can put on the team.

Since Louisville Trinity is going to win this thing almost every year, for most teams the goal will be winning their conference.  I envision conferences -- similar to those in college football -- springing up across the Commonwealth.  For example,   here would be a good Class 1 conference in our end of the Commonwealth -- call it the Barkley Conference:

McCracken Co.
Graves Co.
Caldwell Co.
Christian Co.

Now winning that conference would be a big, big deal – even for Mayfield.  Yes, it would be hard for Murray and Caldwell – but it's hard for Vandy and Kentucky to win the SEC.  My guess is that most Caldwell fans, for example, would rather be in this conference than to spend their time watching the Tigers beat up on Ballard, the Fultons, and Webster County.  On the other hand, the Fultons would be better off not having to play Mayfield anymore.  Each school would find its appropriate level.  That's how they did It in college football, and that's what we should do with high school football.

Really good teams outside of Louisville would shoot for reaching the State Semi-Finals.  As a result, the four Regional Finals will be huge.  I would expect a Western Kentucky Final between Mayfield and Bowling Green to draw over 10,000 people.  The crowds for Highlands/Scott County in the Central Region – or Male/Trinity in Jefferson County – would be even bigger.  For that matter, regular season games will be a big deal.  Mayfield/Tilghman would be the last game of the season (as it should be), and there will be years when that game would decide the conference title.  Same with Hoptown/Christian, Bowling Green/Warren Central, and other local rivalries.  Imagine the crowds that would turn out for Mayfield/Tilghman with the conference title on the line – with the Barkley Conference trophy right there on the sidelines and a trophy presentation as soon as the game is over.  The KHSAA will make a fortune.

And so what if Mayfield probably can't win the state title any more?  South Carolina probably can't win the NCAA title.  Neither can Utah, Oregon State, Navy, and lots of other schools.  Are their fans discouraged?  Do they stop going to the games?  Of course not.  What matters is the idea – the dream – that someday, your ship will come in.

Class 2:  This is for schools that want to play football, but don't want to make the commitment to compete in Class 1.  My guess is that in Western Kentucky, schools like Ballard, the Fultons, Crittenden, Webster County, and Hopkins County Central would happily enter Class 2.  (Schools like Trigg, Marshall, and Union County would have a tougher choice about whether they wanted to go into Class 1.)  For Class 2 teams, we would probably impose limits on coaching staff, team size, and so forth.  I don't really care how the championship of Class 2 is decided so long as it is clear that it is a lesser title – winning the championship of Class 2 should feel like winning the D-1AA championship in football.  The title game should probably alternate between Murray and Morehead, and it should be played at least 10 days before the Final in Class 1.

I would suggest tweaking the requirements for Class 1 and 2 until neither class represents more than 60 percent of the total.  Teams would play most of their games in conference, although of course I would expect Caldwell, say, to schedule a nearby Class 2 team like Crittenden toward the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, we don't have this system.  So instead, we will see these games featuring District 1 teams this weekend.  (All teams from Class 6A, District 1 were eliminated last weekend, so I haven't listed any games from that class).  (Home teams listed first):

Class 1A:
Mayfield (10-1) v. Bethlehem (7-4)
Lou. Holy Cross (8-3) v. Russellville (8-3)

Class 2A:
Caldwell Co. (10-1) v. Ballard Mem. (9-2)
Owensboro Catholic (10-1) v. Murray (7-4)

Class 3A:
Paducah Tilghman (6-5) v. Adair Co. (9-2)
S. Warren (11-0) v. Trigg Co. (7-4)

Class 4A:
Owensboro (9-2) v. Warren East (8-3)
Franklin-Simpson (9-1) v. Madisonville-N. Hopkins (9-2)

Class 5A:
Graves Co. (8-3) v. Christian Co. (4-7)
Bowling Green (10-1) v. Hopkinsville (4-7)

1 comment:

  1. This exciting proposal might call for a special session of Fantasy Legislature.