By DYLAN MALONE
People have been clamoring for it for a long time. There have been gripes and complaints about it, there have been angry fans who have muttered to anyone who would listen that there are better ways, and coaches who feel cheated every year because of it.
No, not the NCAA verdict to put a four-team playoff into the works for college football. I’m talking about the IHSAA’s vote to shift the class system around and give it the shake that it desperately needs.
For too long there has been a disadvantage for schools, particularly smaller ones, who are put into the same class as small private schools in high school sports. For one thing, private schools can “support” these student athletes that may not have the financial means to attend the schools without the help. Without going too far into the realm of cheating, I’ll just leave that alone by saying that the private schools just happen to draw the best talent in their areas and they draw them in thanks to loop holes in financial assistance.
But they don’t recruit…
For the past 17 seasons, 12 times there has been a private school in the state finals at the 3A level. Four of those times BOTH teams were private schools! Again, that’s just 3A. There are favored private schools in every class in Indiana.
1A: Nine of the last 13 state finals have had private schools (Lafayette Central Catholic four times winning the last three state titles).
2A: Nine of the last 13 finals (Bishop Luers has won three straight titles and seven in the last 13 years)
4A: Nine of the last 16 finals (three appearances by Bishop Dwenger, five titles for Indianapolis Cathedral, and three titles for Evansville Reitz).
5A: Recent titles for private schools? None.
Why aren’t there any private schools winning at the 5A level you may ask? Private schools just don’t get that big. With the new rule changes, it will only be a matter of time before we see a small private school playing a Carmel in the 5A (or 6A with the changes) championship. Maybe Luers? Maybe Dwenger? Lafayette Catholic has made 1A a race for second place and a hope that schools won’t have to see them until the finals and then they can at least enjoy Lucas Oil while they’re getting buried by 50 points.
Just ask the Jets or Stars. After getting dismantled by a solid Sheridan team 56-0 in the regional title game this last fall, AC watched with a sense of awe (and probably relief) after Sheridan got blanked by Lafayette Catholic by a score of 17-0 in the semi-state game. Indianapolis Senica didn’t stand a chance as they got smoked 38-7 in the final game. I’m sure the only reason they scored a touchdown was so that the third string defense could see the field at Lucas Oil.
With the new rules and standards in place for winning history and not student enrollment, the playing field should level out in the next few years.
The new point system works like this: 4 points for winning a state title, 3 for semi-state, 2 for regional, and 1 for a sectional title. Teams can only score up to six points in a two year period or else they will be moved up to the next class.
For example, Bishop Luers has won the last three state titles at 2A. This is no longer possible with the new rules as they would move up after their second title because that would be eight points. Even if they won a state title and then lost at semi-state they would still be moving up to class 3A next season by these standards.
Teams will be placed into classes in the fall of 2013 based on their performances of the last season and the coming 2012-13 season.
I can’t wait to see how this pans out. I’ve been complaining about the class system myself since I was a student-athlete myself and it’s good to see the competition even out a bit.
The best thing about the new class system? It applies to all sports that had a four or five class system to start with. That’s right, Bellmont volleyball fans. V-ball, basketball, baseball, soccer, and softball all get the same treatment.
What other teams in the area are effected by this? Bellmont baseball's regional championship in baseball means that if they should happen to win state next season they would move up. Adams Central's softball run to the state title game? Should they repeat as semi-state champs they will move up a class (pretty mind-boggling considering they'd never won a sectional before). Everyone else who won sectional but got no further (Bellmont football, AC football, AC basketball, etc.) are safe from moving up with only one point.
Is it a blessing or a curse for the teams that win perennially? I don’t know but I’m sure it will give the little guy something to strive for in team sports for awhile.