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Saturday, January 25, 2014
What Is District Football Scheduling?

Now that the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors has approved the concept of “District Scheduling” for football teams around the state beginning with the 2015 season, we thought it would be a good time to ask the question, “What is district scheduling?”

District scheduling is the same concept as “Scheduling Groups” or “Pods.” District scheduling is the official name that has been given to this concept.

Section classifications are determined by school size and geography. One of the main issues with section scheduling is that in most cases sections are limited to eight teams and are restricted by the enrollment classifications used to determine class assignments. With only six or eight teams in a section, scheduling options are restricted.

Think of district scheduling as section scheduling on steroids. District scheduling is also based on school size and geographical location—however, districts are not restricted by the enrollments used to determine classifications; and the number of schools in a district is not limited to six or eight. A third criteria; “like schools,” can also be used to help place schools where they best fit. In most cases districts will have 16 or more schools. All schools within that district must have an eight-game regular season schedule, but there is flexibility in how those schedules are developed.

A small committee will assign schools to districts. Schedules can then be developed—based on geography, school size, strength of program—or a combination of those three factors. The recommendation is that districts divide into sub-districts or “conferences” to build their schedules. There should still be conference or district championships and all-conference or all-district teams.

A district of 16 teams, for example, could divide into two sub-districts or conferences of eight for seven games against other schools in each sub-district or conference and one crossover “non-conference” game. A district of 18 could divide into two groups of nine or three groups of six. The groupings of schools within the district and the schedules the groups develop can be adjusted every two years.

If district scheduling is implemented, schools within each district would determine the “structure” of their district and how gameswill be scheduled. Schools will be able to develop a plan that works best for their district. While this could be a challenge in some cases, schools should be able to work out the issues.

While this plan would create change for virtually all schools, most schools will find that they will compete against many of the same schools that they play against now. Current conferences are based on school size, geography and “like schools”— the same criteria that will be used to create districts. The difference is that instead of individual schools having to find conference alignment or football-only conference alignment—with the possibility of those alignments changing at anytime—schools are assigned to a district so every school is guaranteed a group of schools with which they can schedule. Districts will be larger than most conferences, allowing for more flexibility in scheduling.

An Important Note: The section playoff structure does not change. Seeding for the section playoffs would be based on the results of the regular season schedule played against district opponents.

This article was written Kevin Merkle, the MSHSL’sassociate director for football. It was use with permission from the Minnesota State High School League.

Posted By Kevin Merkle/MSHSL
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Softball Will Expand To Four Classes

Following the lead of girls' and boys' basketball, softball in Minnesota will soon be expanding to four classes.

On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League board of directors approved a request from the Minnesota Fast Pitch Softball Coaches Association to add a fourth class in that sport, beginning in 2016.

The MFPSCA conducted a survey of its members on the issue. Of the 224 responses, 186 (83%) voted yes, while 38 (17%) voted against the idea.

According to the MSHSL, the current state tournament format will remain, with the six softball fields at Caswell Park in North Mankato able to handle four classes and consolation play in each class.

Softball moved from two to three classes in the 2000 season.

In comparison, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s board of directors expanded to five classes in the sports of basketball, golf, softball and volleyball beginning with the 2012 softball season.

Posted By Kyle Gylsen
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Football Scheduling Decision Anticipated at MSHSL Meeting

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.

 

Posted By Kevin Merkle/MSHSL
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