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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/18/2012 11:27:58 AM

By Brian Jerzak
Johnís Journal Correspondent

With year one in the books after a big change in the format of high school football in Minnesota, we thought it would be a good time to get some feedback from some of the Class 6A and 5A coaches. What did they like? What do they want to see changed? A survey went out to all the 6A coaches and a number of 5A coaches Ė the two groups most affected by the change.

First of all, thank you to all the coaches who gave their feedback for this story. I appreciate it.

The vast majority of the coaches who responded to the survey were excited about the results of the new format. Here are some points they madeÖ

--Even the coaches who liked the format donít like the fact that there are no longer 6A section champions. One of the most exciting games of the season for any team is the section final. Most coaches felt something was lost by not having that aspect of the playoffs.

--Most coaches felt that 32 teams is about right for Class 6A. However, some feel that losing a playoff game because of the small number was a drawback. Some also felt that the enrollment difference between the top five and the bottom five was still too large and having fewer 6A teams might make the enrollment gap less substantial.

--Most of the coaches who answered the survey felt enrollment should be the main factor when trying to put programs in different classes, but many felt other factors should be considered. Things like strength of program, public or private and number of students receiving free or reduced lunch should be considered. All the coaches felt most of these factors would be very hard to gauge from year to year, making anything other than enrollment very tricky to use.

--The majority of coaches felt the creation of 6A was a positive for schools in 5A. Almost to a man the coaches felt it helped the competitive balance in 5A and gave a number of programs the opportunity to compete for a championship.

--Some coaches didnít like the section crossover format -- in which teams play out of their section in round two of the playoffs -- and some loved it. Those who loved it stated that it made the playoffs more interesting and fresh. Most felt it was either too early to tell or they didnít think the effect of the crossover made that much of a difference. Some felt crossover wouldnít work well in other classes because of travel. In the metro, where all but one 6A team is located, travel isnít a problem. In other classes the distance between schools is much greater.

--Everyone agreed schools should always have the option to opt up into the next class, but there was a wide range of views on being forced to move up or being allowed to move down. Some felt it would never be a good decision to force a team up. The criteria to force a team up would be tough to come up with since most programs can change so much from season to season. However, some felt if there was some sort of criteria set up, forcing programs to opt up could help with competitive balance.

--The problem with schools moving down was how to do it. Most felt a year-by-year basis is not a big enough sample size. One option was to have the coaches in 5A and 6A vote every couple of years to see who they felt should be moved up or down. Some felt the type of enrollment a school has would be reason to force a team up or allow teams to move down.

--There were two basic things that coaches feel they would like to see changed. Most would like to see the state tournaments seeded in some way; others stated they would like to see eight four-team sections so the section championship can be preserved. Oftentimes coaches wanted to see some combination of both.

--If the basic format stays the same, it is clear in year one that some things worked well and others need to be adjusted. I am sure this conversation will continue each year as the format continues to be modified. It is impossible to make it perfect, but as the new format gets a few more years under its belt it will be easier for the coaches and administrators to make the system work better for most programs.


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