A ninth class of high school football could be in Oklahoma's future, depending on what happens with recommendations made by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's special Constitution and Rules Review Committee on Wednesday.
The recommendation made by the committee to the OSSAA board of directors would divide the current 32 schools of Class 6A into two 16-team classes for football only.
The goal of the committee was to best address the fact that Tulsa Union and Jenks have won every Class 6A state football championship since 1996, with hopes of better leveling the playing field.
“We've talked about it being an issue, but we haven't been able to come up with a solution,” Yukon superintendent Bill Denton told the OSSAA board during its regular meeting Wednesday. “We want to see if this is a viable option to level the playing field a little more.”
The new Class 6A and Class 7A would each have two eight-team districts, and 12 teams from each class would make the playoffs, with the district champions and runners-up receiving a first-round bye.
Denton, who headed the committee and also serves on the board, said the board will discuss the recommendations, likely at its December meeting, and decide whether to send the proposal to the current Class 6A schools. Those 32 schools would be able to vote on the proposal to decide if it would be adopted by the OSSAA.
“I'd have to talk to my coaches and our superintendent and anybody else who has a piece in the puzzle, but we're going to compete with those big four schools in the Tulsa area anyway,” said Mustang athletic director Chuck Bailey. “That doesn't scare us. I like the idea of 7A, but it's not just my decision. We would have to look over all the details to see what's best for Mustang.”
The earliest the new classes could be in place would be the 2014 football season, because the districts are already set for 2013.
The largest 16 schools, Class 7A, include Tulsa Union, Jenks, Broken Arrow and Owasso, while the other 12 would be from the Oklahoma City metro area.
All of the high schools in Edmond, Moore and Norman would be included, along with Mustang, Yukon, Putnam City and Putnam City North, based on current attendance averages — which could change before this proposal is adopted.
Based on the current numbers, programs such as Lawton, Midwest City and Tulsa Washington would stay in 6A.
“From where I am, I like the idea,” said Midwest City coach Darrell Hall. “It makes the odds better for our program, and I like that.
“Does it water down the system? Probably so. But from where I'm sitting, at a school with a little over 1,400 students (in average attendance), it's hard to compete against schools with over 4,000.”
The proposal would not impact the current rules governing how Class 5A and below are set.
“We had really good, hard discussions in trying to lay everything out,” Denton said of the committee, which included about a dozen members.
“Whether it's a good option or a bad option, it's an option to put out there. If we get the right kind of discussions, maybe an ideal solution will come out of it. At least we're keeping it out there, and trying to solve a problem that everyone's talked about, but no one knows how to solve.”