By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
High school and college football fans likely already have Feb. 6 circled on their calendars. That’s national signing day, when prospects will put their signature on a National Letter of Intent to play football at the collegiate level. It’s a day of decision.
But Feb. 6 also is potentially a day of decision for Class 6A football in the state of Oklahoma. It’s a day when the Oklahoma Seconday School Activities Association may get another chance to take a significant step toward rectifying the competitive imbalance that exists within the state’s highest high school football classification.
It’s a do-over opportunity the OSSAA board would be well-advised to take full advantage of and not slink away from like it did the last time it had the chance to fix its broken system, when it rejected on a 7-6 vote on Dec. 5 a proposal to split the 32 teams in 6A into a higher 16-team division (7A) based on school attendance, with the remaining 16 teams staying at 6A.
This of course was all brought about by the fact either Tulsa Union or Jenks have claimed the 6A football championship in each of the last 17 years.
After rejecting, thanks in part to heavy lobbying from Union and Jenks, a very sensible proposal, OSSAA announced the proposal would be sent back to its Constitution and Rules Review Committee, essentially a procedural kiss of death.
But, thankfully, the state’s 6A head football coaches and athletic directors were not willing to let the issue completely die and in their last two meetings have formulated another plan to offset the Eastern Axis of Evil.
Their plan differs from the rejected 6A split, but details have not been officially revealed, as the coaches and ADs have pretty much successfully put a lid on releasing the details. So far, no coaches or ADs seem willing to go on the record about the specifics of the plan, which has been presented to the aforementioned committee, which in turn is expected to present it to the 13-member OSSA board at its next meeting on Wednesday. If approved by the board, it would then be sent to the full 6A school membership for a vote.
While the details have not officially been released, the plan is believed to be similar to that used in Texas and would maintain the current 32-team 6A regular-season district format, but then split schools come playoff time based on school attendance. This would essentially create a Division One and Division Two within 6A for playoff purposes.
Other reports indicate other “multiple options” are on the table, but again we don’t know officially what those are, which is a bit troubling.
While nobody will even say on the record why there is a virtual “cone of silence” on the proposals, most speculate it is to keep false information from leaking and reaching board members before it is formally presented. There is of course one problem with that approach.
By muzzling coaches and ADs it has the potential to lead to just that happening, where speculation takes the place of facts.
It’s pretty clear that, as one coach said, nobody “wants to be that guy” that spills the beans to the press.
However, by keeping the matter hush-hush, it may also put the brakes on the rather obvious hustling and lobbying that was done by the Tulsa schools in December that gave a majority of the OSSAA board cold enough feet that they didn’t even want the 6A schools to have a vote in the matter, which besides defeating the measure, was the other outcome of their December vote.
So, let’s see if the OSSAA board can take advantage of its Mulligan and finally put into motion some semblance of sanity within 6A.
It’s time to get it right and end the charade that has become 6A playoff football, otherwise it may make as much sense to do as one area coach once jokingly said and just make the 6A football playoffs a best two-out-of-three between Union and Jenks. You know, the direct approach ... cut out the middle man.
But there are 30 Class 6A schools, including Enid, that deserve better. Make it happen OSSAA. Show the kids that you care.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.