Dale Meggas
Dale Meggas

Dale Meggas brings more than 25 years of sports media experience to PressProsMagazine.com. A graduate of The Ohio State University in journalism, Dale has a Master's degree in sports administration from Western Illinois University. He has worked for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics when both were based in Kansas City. He has also covered the Cleveland Indians for major wire services, writing game stories for national distribution. He writes on Cleveland State University and the Indians for Examiner.com.

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Seven divisions and seven state champions in Ohio high school football next year.  Good for the sake of competitive balance, but the OHSAA should also consider a couple of options.

Outside the crazy coaches who continue the high school football season into Christmas,  and have their players lifting weights on New Year’s Eve, the season came to an end with the six state finals on the first weekend of December in Stark County.

But it may be time to talk of the changes that will take place next season, ultimately creating seven,  count ’em,  state champions crowned at either Massillon Paul Brown Stadium or Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.

The change is at the top with what was Division I cut up into two divisions. The top half of that old Division I will still have those schools with male enrollments of more than 1,000 boys. The new Division II or the bottom of that old Division I will have the rest with the smallest having male enrollments of just under 500 boys.

That move has as many as 72 teams such as recent Division I state champions Cleveland St. Ignatius and Cincinnati Moeller remaining in what is the largest division (in terms of male enrollment),  while teams like Cleveland Glenville and the three Westerville schools north of Columbus moving to the second of those seven divisions when it comes to state football tournament brackets.

While I applaud the move to separate the huge schools from the rest, the Ohio High School Athletic Association could have made a couple of additional tweaks to the new setup.

Those steps in an effort to make things a bit more fair for competitive balance when to comes to playing for that generic OHSAA trophy could have included two major changes.

1)  When you cut into what was Division I and make it into what will be in reality Division I and II, you are going to hurt some feelings.

Until this year when Division I football included the smallest having 494 boys. That had the division enrollment range quite large, The smallest of those old Division I schools were half the size of the largest schools that had more than 1,100 boys.

With the new setup, you will still have a sizable gap but now it will find the smallest Division I school having a male enrollment of 600.

That will be tough on that 72nd school if it’s not a typically strong football school but the cut has to be made somewhere. Where the OHSAA can step in is to have a flexible membership with those traditionally strong football schools who happen to fall into the new Division II being able to petition into Division I.

Massillon Washington, which for years has hosted three of the six annual state championships at Paul Brown Stadium,  and  brags of its state championships won before the current playoff system on the walls of the stadium, will probably find itself in Division II next year.

Why not give schools like Massillon Washington the option of remaining with the “big boys” with a pen and paper signed by school administrators who want their team to remain in the top competitive division?

As I’ve said in the past, there is much to be said for allowing teams to “play up” in football as well as many other sports. When all is said and done, there would  be very few who would want to,  and if those numbers got out of whack, the OHSAA would have the final say in granting permission to join a higher division.

2)  The other rub I find wrong with the new 7-bracket era of the OHSAA football championships is allowing all seven brackets to still have 32 teams. While it’s fine for the divisions II-VII to remain with their 5-week, 32-team playoff bracket, there is little reason to allow 32 of 72 teams to reach the post-season just because they fall into Division I.

Veteran PPM columnist Dale Meggas can be read daily on all things sports in Cleveland at www.examiner.com.

Plans have not been finalized on how the 7-game championship weekend will be structured. There is thought of going three days for the seven title games, which would be OK. But to give post-season spots to what will be the bottom feeders of that 72-team division to fill a 32-team bracket seems a bit much.

I don’t know if you start Division I a week later than the other six division brackets or have Division I play its final a week ahead of the others but I’d feel better with a 24-team bracket with the top eight receiving a bye or a 16-team bracket with Division I beginning tournament play in the second week of the post-season.

If they remain with a 32-team bracket for the 2013 Division I state championship tournament, you can bet somebody with a 3-7 record will have a real shot at being given one of those 32 spots. And that would be a shame.

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