Mike White | Monday, July 20, 8:05 p.m.
The soap opera of Pennsylvania high school football has another new storyline.
The PIAA Board of Control was expected to vote Thursday night on a proposal that would add two classifications in football around the state, and also shorten the season by a week, starting in 2010. But Brad Cashman, Executive Director of the PIAA, has come up with three new proposals that will be addressed.
Cashman, who came up with the original six-classification idea, has altered his original playoff bracket for six classes. But he also has come up with proposals for a five-classification bracket, and a four-class bracket.
So, now the PIAA can consider AAAA, AAAAA, and AAAAAA. And you get an A if you understand all of this.
The PIAA strategic planning committee, made up of 16 Board of Control members that represent the 12 districts around the state, will consider Cashman’s proposals and then make a recommendation to the PIAA Board of Control. A vote could still be taken Thursday night.
The strategic planning committee has three basic choices. It could recommend one of Cashman’s three proposals. It could recommend keeping the system the way it is, with four classifications and a 16-week season. Or it could come up with its own new proposal.
Stay tuned on this one. I’ll interrupt some vacation time to cover the meetings later this week at PIAA headquarters
In case you’re wondering how the WPIAL feels about the new proposals, you need to know they are against all of them. Just like the league was against Cashman’s first six-class proposal.
The main reason the WPIAL is against the new proposals is because it still ruins the WPIAL playoffs. Consider:
Under Cashman’s new six-class proposal, the WPIAL still couldn’t play all of its championships in one day at Heinz Field. Although Cashman changed the Class A bracket to the WPIAL’s preference, the WPIAL would only have eight teams in its 6A playoffs and would have to play a championship game a week before the other five classes.
In Cashman’s Class 5A proposal, there would be no "true" WPIAL champion in either AAAA or 5A. In this proposal, 16 teams would be in the WPIAL playoffs in Class A, AA and AAA. But in AAAA and 5A, there would be only 12 teams – and four of those teams would be involved in playoffs against districts outside the WPIAL.
Under Cashman’s AAAA proposal, 16 teams would make the WPIAL playoffs in A, AA and AAA. But only 12 in AAAA. Four AAAA teams would be involved in playoffs against districts outside the WPIAL.
Here is what WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley had to say today:
"What we would like to see maintained is what we’ve been doing since the state playoffs were developed [in 1988]," O’Malley said. "We are of the opinion that Dec. 19 is too late to play the state championships, like they are doing this year. We also freely admit that the state football championships overlapping two weeks of the winter sports season is something we’d like to see corrected. But we are of the opinion that the solution to those two problems lies more with the beginning of the season, than with adding more classifications."
Translation: The WPIAL wants only four classes. The league is fine if the PIAA wants to cut a week at the end of the season. But let each district around the state decide if they want to start their seasons a week earlier. That way, everyone might be happy.