Ed Daniels' Blog @ SportsNOLA.com
Ed Daniels at SportsNOLA.com

Proposal 18 vote will have major effect on Louisiana high school football

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If you think there are too many teams in the Louisiana high school football playoffs, just wait.

On Friday January 25, the annual field of 160 could balloon to 224.

LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson says “he’s not sure” if a proposal to split the football playoffs between public schools and all others will pass.

But support for the measure seems to have momentum. It was fueled by the events of December 7 and 8 in the Superdome.

In all five classes, “select” schools won state football crowns: Archbishop Rummel, Karr (charter school), Parkview Baptist, John Curtis and Ouachita Christian.

Several in public schools have said in the last few weeks that they will support the “split” proposal. They feel that the playing field isn’t level between publics and open enrollment schools.

And that something must change, but it would be drastic.

If Proposal 18 passes at the LHSAA convention, the schools would remain in their current districts for the regular season but then would separate for the playoffs.

The non-selects would have five classes, the “selects” two classes.

This means that next December once the playoffs start, Rummel, Karr and John Curtis (moving up to 3A) would be in the same playoff bracket.

Kenny Henderson said that his numbers show 32 teams would be in the select Division 1 playoffs and 48 would be in the select Division II playoffs.

That means that 64 of 80 teams in the select category would make the playoffs.

If so, can anyone tell me, what is the purpose of playing a regular season?

In the public schools, the numbers are not much better.

In Class 2A, 36 schools would compete to fill a bracket of 32.

In Class 1A, 27 schools would fill a bracket of 32.

That’s right. All 27 schools would make the playoffs. The top 5 would have first round byes.

We can debate the public-private controversy all day long. In fact, this debate has been going on for about 15 years.

At least twice, the prevailing wisdom was the LHSAA would split with publics in one league, privates in the other. Then-commissioner Tommy Henry worked hard behind the scenes to quell the uprising.

Henderson said Tuesday he is not sure how active he will be in the current controversy. Does he want the measure to pass? “I hope not,” said Henderson.

In the meantime, here’s some food for thought.

Since Class 5A began in 1991, 15 public schools have won state 5A titles compared to only seven privates. Four of those non-public school championships belong to Evangel, who no longer competes in Class 5A.

Now comes the biggest potential problem. If Proposal 18 passes, “select” schools could move quickly to form their own association. This week, several head coaches at select schools said they would be interested in such a split if the proposal passes. They note that many of the private schools play before big crowds while many public schools share in that revenue when they play against each other.

In December, one LHSAA source said, “They (publics) can talk all they want about a split. But when it comes time to vote, my guess is several will not pull the trigger.” Money talks.

But, that statement was made before that Friday and Saturday at the Superdome. It is one weekend that may change everything about Friday nights in the fall in Louisiana.

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