Split of Class 6A football is still sought
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, December 14, 2012
12/14/12 at 3:10 AM
Bill Denton may not have succeeded the first time, but he's trying again.
The Yukon school superintendent is going back to the drawing board with a proposal to split Class 6A football into two championship divisions.
He's asking 6A administrators for suggestions before he goes back to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's board of directors for another vote.
As a member of the board, Denton chairs the OSSAA's Constitution and Rules Revision committee, which has been studying a prickly problem.
Administrators in the class don't like the large disparity between the largest and smallest schools. Broken Arrow's enrollment of over 4,500 students is almost four times larger than the smallest school in the class. Booker T. Washington has almost 1,300 students.
Denton's committee took a proposal to the OSSAA board in December that divides 6A into two championship divisions, each with two eight-team districts. But administrators urged the board not to rush into a decision, and the plan was sent back to committee for further study.
Now, the OSSAA is asking for input from administrators, who have a Jan. 16 deadline to submit their suggestions before Denton's committee meets again.
Athletic directors are meeting to discuss the issue and studying what administrators tried in neighboring states to solve similar problems.
Denton hopes to have a new proposal for the OSSAA's February or March board meeting. Whatever happens has to be done quickly.
Districts will be realigned in late July or early August for the 2014 and 2015 football seasons. OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said he needs a new plan finalized by the end of the school year (around May 20 in most districts) to have any hope of using it for the next two-year cycle.
If the OSSAA board has a proposal by the February or March meeting, it could send the plan to the state's largest 32 high schools for ratification.
The affected schools
These are the state's 32 largest, based on the OSSAA's Aug. 6, 2012 ADM list (with ADM number in parentheses).
If the change were to be made this week, this is how the new classes would be divided. The new ADM list, which determines alignments for the 2013 and 2014 football seasons, is due out sometime in mid-summer.
1. Broken Arrow (4586.2)
2. Union (4237.1)
3. Jenks (3077.5)
4. Owasso (2628.0)
5. Mustang (2473.5)
6. Edmond North (2445.3)
7. Moore (2153.0)
8. Yukon (2130.6)
9. Norman North (2068.6)
10. Edmond Memorial (2048.0)
11. Westmoore (1982.0)
12. Edmond Santa Fe (1973.0)
13. Southmoore (1955.0)
14. Putnam North (1953.2)
15. Putnam City (1732.0)
16. Norman (1728.9)
1. Lawton (1722.0)
2. Bartlesville (1700.6)
3. Enid (1678.2)
4. Sand Springs (1549.6)
5. Muskogee (1540.9)
6. Ponca City (1477.6)
7. Choctaw (1472.5)
8. Putnam West (1464.3)
9. Midwest City (1443.4)
10. Stillwater (1440.8)
11. U.S. Grant (1415.0)
12. Sapulpa (1392.9)
13. Nathan Hale (1358.7)
14. Lawton Ike (1339.0)
15. Bixby 1335.4)
16. B.T. Washington (1287.4)
The next few: Del City (1254.2), Edison (1239.8), Claremore (1214.5), Shawnee (1174.9), Tahlequah (1160.2).
Generally speaking, more athletes are needed to be competitive in football than any other sport. Larger enrollments mean more athletes to choose from in assembling a team.
Broken Arrow's ADM is almost four times larger than that of the smallest school in the class, Booker T. Washington. In no other Oklahoma classification is the largest school as much as two full times greater than the smallest school in the class.
Over the past four seasons, teams in the lower half of 6A have accounted for only 20 of 64 playoff berths and only seven first-round wins. Jenks and Union, two of the state's three largest schools, have combined to win the last 17 state titles.
Administrators want to "level the playing field" by closing the disparity between the largest and smallest schools.
Divide into dual 16-team championship divisions based on class size. But how to do it?
The OSSAA's Constitution and Rules Review committee proposed a simple 16-16 split with each new division having two districts of eight teams each.
Administrators fear such a plan would could create greater travel burdens and threaten long-standing rivalries between neighboring schools in different classes. So, the plan was sent back to committee for further study.
Athletic directors are now considering a variety options. Most keep the traditional four-team district format more or less in tact while dividing the teams into larger- and smaller-class postseason brackets.
The administrators are studying what Texas and Arkansas have done, faced with similar problems.
The Arkansas plan
The state's 32 largest high schools play in eight-team districts, divided roughly along geographical lines, with 7A and 6A schools intermingled in each district.
At playoff time, six of the eight 7A teams on each side of the state qualify based on a power ranking, and are seeded on a 12-team bracket. The four highest seeds receive first-round byes. In 6A, all 16 teams go to the playoffs.
The Texas plan
Class 5A decides titles in two divisions. The state's largest high schools are divided into 32 districts of six to 10 teams each, with larger and smaller schools intermingled in each district.
Based on enrollment, the two largest schools finishing in the top four in a district qualify for the Division I bracket. The next-largest qualify to the Division II bracket.
If this sounds confusing, it certainly can be. A middle-sized school could qualify to either bracket, depending on how its district rivals finish. But the largest schools in a district will always go to the Division I playoffs - if they qualify.
Most keep the existing district structure in tact while using variations of the Arkansas and Texas plans to divide teams into separate 7A and 6A brackets at playoff time.
One radical approach creates four statewide super districts, allotting one school in each district from every four teams reading down the ADM list. Geographic rivals would be grouped when possible. Under this plan, Broken Arrow, Union, Jenks and Owasso would play in four separate districts.
Original Print Headline: Split of 6A football still sought
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Bill Denton: The Yukon school superintendent is asking 6A administrators for ideas regarding a split of Class 6A football