As the playoffs begin this week, some words in response to readers’ concerns over ‘COTY’ candidates overlooked…and once again why the playoff system is simply too long.
Ah, stretch, and take a deep breath. Another high school football “first season” is in the books with Friday’s conclusion to the regular season; and now, what we’ve all waited for…THE PLAYOFFS!
The pairings will be out on Sunday, and the area is once again richly represented in just about all divisions.
Congrats…to each of the area teams that made it. That’s everyone’s goal now at the start of the year (it seems more important than winning your league), and if you got there you’re to be commended. Achieving a goal matters. Always has…always will.
But I’ve held for several years that the playoffs are too long, include too many teams with suspect records against suspect competition that leads to #1 seeds blowing out #8 seeds on Week 1. Watch this week, and even next, and see how many lopsided outcomes you get.
Coaches and dyed-in-the-woolers hate it when I write this, but they’re thinking emotionally instead of logically.
The OHSAA has their own argument, of course. They say it broadens the experience of the post-season to include more schools, more communities, more kids. It has to be good.
Really? Tell that to the poor kid from Bug Tussle next week that gets smacked 63-6 by a Marion Local, or Clinton-Massie, or Lasalle, the perennials in their respective divisions. See how many kids actually wear those 2016 State Playoffs T-shirts that were handed out this weekend…when next weekend turns out to be the sallow reminder that not all teams are created equal, regardless of what Lincoln said.
The fact of the matter is that if the regions were again limited to four teams instead of eight, the playoffs could be concluded and a champion crowned in three weeks, instead of five.
Geez, you scoff. But that’s no fun. It’s not even (wait for it)…fair!
Geez, tournament administrators scoff. That’s going to cost a lot of money from the extra ticket revenues – their bottom line from broadening the experience.
But look at the money it would save, too, in transportation costs and ancillary expense.
And yes it would impact bottom lines. But it would also eliminate those 63-6 early round games and get to the matter of determining a champion two weeks sooner, thereby giving the athletes themselves at least a two-week break, a much-needed rest, before the start of basketball.
It gives families some time for whatever activities are necessary between competitive seasons.
And it just makes sense when you consider that the teen athletes that survive five weeks of playoff football to play in Columbus on the first weekend of December will have withstood the same amount of physical stress as the NFL professional that plays a 16 game schedule. And remember. We’re doing this for the benefit of the kids, right?
My friend Bob Huelsman will argue with me that it denies the possibility and drama of a #8 seed knocking off a #1…the shock, the headlines, and the example of Horatio Alger becoming manifest. It’s good for the human spirit. He’s heckled me for years about this. But it happens about 2% of the time, if that.
No, this is not a popular notion, and no one will give it a thought when they pour into the stadiums next weekend for tail-gating and the euphoria that goes with “making the playoffs”. But for those dozen or so teams that go home on the wrong end of a “beatdown” there might be some thought given to the reality of what separates good from great. Sports, and life, isn’t fair in that regard, despite what you want to believe.
And what to do with those T-shirts?
Where’s ‘Your’ Coach….?
I want to take this opportunity, too, to express appreciation for the numerous readers that took the time last week to write in about our column on area football coaches that distinguished themselves for possible “Coach Of The Year” honors and recognition.
We mentioned six – Ty Cates (Covington), Ryan Jones (Troy Christian), Joel Derge (Tipp City), Bill Nees (Piqua), Brad Luthman (St. Henry) and Matt Burgbacher (Troy) – considering the obstacles they had overcome by either revamping their program, or overcoming injuries and necessary adjustments to compete and win each week.
To the credit of some, we were addressed with comments supporting the record and obvious excellence of others, like Chip Otten (Coldwater), and Tim Goodwin (Marion Local), and even Mechanicsburg’s Kurt Forrest, who again has the Indians undefeated and primed to make a run in Division VI.
We acknowledge, of course, and point to the fact that it’s hardly news that Otten, Goodwin, and Forrest have again achieved a very high measure of success. It’s almost expected, so exemplary is their past record.
But to borrow from what someone said this week about Alabama’s Nick Saban, unless he wins the national championship he may not be the college coach of the year. And even if he does…no guarantees. That award often goes to the person that succeeds in building a program like Saban’s, overcoming the most obstacles in the process.
The reality is that a case can be made for the coach of almost every winning team. They all have the same attributes. They all have the same commitment. And they all teach the same lessons in character, hard work, and the value of being a team. And because they do…they all take their turns, one year or another, in being recognized as someone’s ‘COTY’.
What goes around seems to come around. And these guys aren’t going anywhere.