At its Thursday, Jan. 23 meeting, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors is scheduled to take action in regard to how regular season football games are scheduled.
Ever since the inception of the section football playoffs in 1984, the question has been asked as to why not play only section opponents during the regular season—known as “Section Football.” Over the years a number of different schools have brought forward proposals to change to Section Football in order to help solve the continual challenges that some schools have trying to schedule regular season games. While there was interest in Section Football by some schools, perhaps 20-25 percent, there never was a large enough number in order to push through any change.
As time has progressed, more schools have had scheduling challenges—not always the same schools, but enough so that the percentage of those interested in Section Football grew. In 2009 the Board asked staff to put together a plan for Section Football. A Football Task Force began meeting in January of 2010 and after more than a year of work, their recommendation to the Board in March 2011 was to not to move to Section Football. The task force felt that even though the number of those in favor of Section Football had increased; and that Section Football could help to solve some scheduling issues; Section Football could cause more problems than it would fix.
Instead, the task force recommended adding Class AAAAAA, establishing a policy for the Zero Week concept, and establishing a scheduling clearinghouse in which the League office would assist schools in finding other schools to fill their schedule. The Board approved these recommendations. However, in doing so, the Board stated that if there were continued scheduling issues, Section Football would be “on the table.”
Those recommendations were implemented and have assisted schools in completing schedules, but there are still scheduling issues, and again in 2012, schools requested the Board to consider Section Football. At that point the Board decided to re-visit football scheduling, stating that the status quo was not the answer and that a change needed to be made.
League staff again reviewed options, and while a plan for Section Football was ready to go, other options needed to be considered due to the issues inherent with Section Football. The concept that evolved was a plan for what was called Scheduling Groups, or Pods, in which schools would be placed in groups and would then schedule regular season games within those groups. This plan, now known as District Scheduling, was shared with the Board and at recent Area Meetings.
The more that the District Scheduling plan has been developed, the more it seems to be a viable option. A special committee met twice this past fall to further develop the specifics of this plan, and a draft plan was discussed in detail at the Dec. 5, 2013, Board of Directors meeting.
Regular Season Football Scheduling is an action item on the Board agenda for its next meeting on Jan. 23. Member schools are encouraged to contact Board members to share their thoughts on this issue. Contact information for the Board member who represents you can be found on the League website. Use the pull-down menu under the About MSHSL tab on the home page and select the link for Contact Board of Directors.