With the ballots for the Class 6A football proposals in the hands of the coaches for voting, The Oklahoman polled the coaches with four questions regarding the changes.
Here are some of the responses:
What criteria should be weighed most in choosing one of the plans?
Loren Montgomery, Bixby — “Addressing the tremendous discrepancy in enrollment at the 6A level and how it affects student body participation, safety and the spirit of competition.”
Jeff Brickman, Southmoore — “Trying to level the playing fields as much as possible (school ADM).”
Do you foresee a positive impact of either plan that isn't being widely discussed?
Steve Spavital, Broken Arrow — “Additional team has the ability to be a state champion.”
Ty Prestidge, Mustang — “No. I don't believe this solves the perceived problem. Though it does remove the bottom schools from the situation, the problem still exists. The problem is some schools decided to split their districts and others decided to keep their district one school. We are all independent districts who can decide what is best for our communities. So placing blame in any direction is futile. There are districts that had a vision in facilities and commitment to their football programs and now the rest are playing catch up. A rising tide lifts all ships.”
Lance Manning, Edmond Santa Fe — “I can't see a positive impact at all. We will have two 16-team classes. What was already considered a relatively small class is now cut in half. It will give a bottom-16 team a chance to win a state championship.”
Do you foresee unintended consequences of either plan that aren't being widely discussed?
Boone Copeland, Lawton Eisenhower — “In Plan II that we received, you could have a team go 7-3 and miss the playoffs and a team go 2-8 and make it. Travel could be a big issue, not so much for the Friday night varsity games but the Thursday and Monday night games. You could have teams traveling 2 (hours) to play a game on Monday night returning pretty late, and expect those students to be at school at 7:45 and also practice the next day.”
Manning — “Neither plan is a solution to what people have been complaining about. Scheduling will be a nightmare, keeping intradistrict rivalries, travel expenses, etc.”
Greg Nation, Norman — “I think most coaches have discussed each proposal in depth with administration. Personally, I think in comparison I would rather keep it the same way as we have done it in the past.”
Bill Patterson, Owasso — “Most of the discussion that is taking place is by the coaches. The consequences of this movement, I believe, will be of the greatest impact at the non-varsity level as far as scheduling. Some schools are going to find it difficult to put together a junior varsity and junior high schedule.”
Do you agree that a change needed to be made to 6A football? Why or why not?
Montgomery — “Yes. A change will create a more competitive environment in which all teams face similar challenges week in and week out. A change will also create more involvement in football among student athletes from the smaller schools.”
Steve Chard, Enid — “The change is being applauded by some and hated by others … so it depends on who you ask. The bottom line is we are a medium sized state with a large discrepancy in the largest class so there is no perfect scenario for our largest class here in Oklahoma.”
Darrell Hall, Midwest City — “Yes, (it) evens the playing field for all concerned.”
Jeremy Dombek, Edmond North -- “I think Oklahoma high school football is a good product. I think people across the country recognize that it's good and us being the highest level in 6A I just don't want to see anything that can water it down or tarnish it. Will that do it? I don't know. That remains to be seen.”
Brickman — “I feel there should be no change. The east side schools have decided not to split like the west side schools. There are no rules that say you must split when you have 3,000-5,000 students. Big question is how much bigger will they get? They are all growing areas. Will Broken Arrow have 6,000 students one day? I think a question should be asked to administrators on both sides: Why do west side schools split and why do east side schools not split?
Patterson — “Not really. I realize that there is a large difference in enrollment from top to bottom, but I don't like the idea that we, or anyone else, is good simply because we are big. We are fortunate in the fact that our communities and administrations have made a commitment to excellence in all things we do.
“I believe that this ‘change' comes from the idea of ‘every kid gets a trophy.'
“The only change that made sense to me was the idea promoted at the meeting in Edmond by David Fisher of Yukon and that was the Texas ‘split bracket' proposal. Like I said, nothing we discussed at that meeting has been proposed.”
What players are saying
Caleb Sturgeon, Putnam City West — “I believe splitting up 6A football is a great thing. I hope for them to split all 32 teams half and half. This will definitely give teams such as PC West a better chance to compete because it eliminates the teams that we cannot compete against. I think we will be able to have a better chance to grow and win more games, because the playing field will be a lot more level and the schedules will be more fair.”
Ethan Birdwell, Moore — “Really, it can help the schools out I think. Adding another class will give the room for larger schools while still not making the schools' population a consequence for the smaller schools. A school with a population of almost 5,000 students is going to have a lot more to pull into their sports programs than a school with 1,500. That isn't saying that smaller schools can't compete, but it will put a lot of schools on a more even playing field.”