The TSSAA board of control met last week and there is a proposal on the table about changing to four classifications in football. In my 22 years of covering sports for this newspaper, it will be the third time if this happens that the TSSAA has altered the number of classifications for football. In my opinion the change to six classifications was driven by money because a state the size of Tennessee is not big enough for six classifications. Texas has 12 and Florida has ten if you need a comparison. Tennessee actually has nine when you count private schools who are on their own currently.
The Huntingdon Mustangs won their lone state championship when there were three classifications and the Mustangs were in 2-A and if the new proposal is adopted then I think they will also be in 2-A by the numbers that were listed. So, what are the positives if this happens in the near future? A lot will depend on geography, but I think we could have possibly McKenzie, Dresden, Milan, Trenton, Union City and schools that are similar in size to Huntingdon, be a part of the same region.
The cutoff for 1-A would be 358 and Huntingdon is just over 400 students. So, 2-A would be from 358 and above and cap out at 716. 3-A would be 716 to 1,432, and 4-A would be 1,432 to 2,865. Currently under this format, 1-A would have 69 schools, 2-A 98, 3-A 107, and 4-A 57. I am fairly sure that West Carroll and Bruceton would be 1-A although the War Eagles would be close to the cutoff and Huntingdon and McKenzie would fall into 2-A.
One thing for certain it would change the landscape once again on how high school football looks in our area and for the county teams. The question on my mind and I am sure it is on yours, is how we feel about it. Personally, I have mixed emotions because, for example, I am getting tired of the TSSAA continually changing things, even though I think six classes for public schools are too many. Class 2-A will be very competitive and frankly I like that under this format. When the Mustangs moved up from 1-A to 2-A last year there were moans from some fans, but every game we played last year was competitive and I enjoyed the season from that standpoint.
The bottom line is that I actually hope the TSSAA changes to four classes because of the reasons I stated previously in this column. The playoffs have been watered down in the past with six classes and this will cure that problem and the teams that make the playoffs will earn it. Make sure you check out The Beating Around the Bush Podcast which is off its summer vacation. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other places you get your podcasts.