Photo by Kailee Means
The TSSAA presented three options for the high school football season on Wednesday, and the Board of Control will meet again on July 8 to decide on the plan.
On Tuesday, the TSSAA announced that the girls soccer and football seasons would be delayed, as they were classified as contact sports and therefore fell under Governor Bill Lee’s state of emergency order extension to August 29.
At the end of the dead period, sports that fall under the contact term are not allowed to hold any scrimmages or 7-on-7s. They can do weight-lifting, conditioning and any fundamental practices that do not involve contact.
It’s important to point out that all of these plans rely on the order ending on the 29th, meaning teams could begin practicing on the 30th and the first games would be played on September 18.
The first option presented maintained the 32-team playoff bracket as normal, but teams would have to scrap their schedules. The TSSAA would then create a seven-game region schedule for all teams.
“We could do a 32-team bracket in Division One if this order expires,” TSSAA Director Bernard Childress said. “(Medical professionals we’ve talked to) would feel comfortable if we started contact practices on Aug. 30, we could have our first game on Sept. 18. If we did that, we could have a seven-game regular season and then start the playoffs on time.”
Childress added that teams that missed the playoffs would be given the opportunity to play two extra games.
The second option would feature an eight-game season, but the first round of the playoffs would be scrapped, along with the original schedules also being thrown out for a TSSAA-scheduled region slate. In addition, only the top two teams from each region would make the playoffs.
“Those teams that do not qualify for the playoffs would again have the opportunity to scheduled two additional games,” Childress said.
The third proposal would allow schools to keep their original schedules, but only the region champions would be eligible for the playoffs. This adds up to an eight-team bracket.
This option also includes a modified schedule that Childress explained in the meeting.
“The first contest would be on Sept.18, and we would cut off the first two weeks of the playoffs,” Childress said. “That would give (teams) a nine-game season and then we would go into the playoffs…In this proposal, schools would keep their current schedule and we would pick up on Sept. 18. That would be Week 5 and we would go from there.”
Childress went on to say that games missed in Weeks 3 and 4 would be rescheduled to occur during the originally planned first two rounds of the playoffs.
“Week 11 this year is on Oct. 11, so the first round of the playoffs would be Nov. 6,” Childress said. “What we would recommend in this proposal is if we cut off the first two rounds of the playoffs, during the first week on Nov.6, we would play Week 3 contests…the second week of the playoffs on Nov. 13, schools would be required to play their Week 4 games. This would really leave only the Week 1 and 2 games for us to help them work out if they planned on playing any regional games.”
Childress went on to say that the TSSAA would be able to help work out any scheduling conflicts with regards to region games during the first two weeks.
With regards to girls soccer, Childress expressed the idea of extending the season a few weeks and delaying the date of the State Championships to allow for a full season to be played.
The board voted unanimously on two items, with the first being that the TSSAA would send coaches the list of options to explain to their teams. The second was that the TSSAA would mandate that all member schools abide by the Governor’s order.
In addition, teams that miss the playoffs would be given the opportunity to schedule a 10th game.
Assistant Director Mark Reeves mentioned that he will be beginning talks with the Governor’s office on Wednesday to discuss the potential of putting the TSSAA in the same category as college and professional athletics, meaning that the order’s contact guidelines would not apply to them.
The board will reconvene on July 8 to decide on a plan moving forward.