4 points of contention at recent FHSAA Football Advisory Committee

·5 min read

The FHSAA's Football Advisory Committee gathered on Wednesday to discuss the state of high school football and appeared to agree that a new mindset was needed with the new year.

The committee consists of nine members, with Palm Beach County represented by Jupiter High's Tim Tharp. Other chairs included Miami-Norland's Daryle Heidelburg, Yusuf Shakir of Manatee (Bradenton), Palmetto's Dave Marino, Ty Lawrence of South Sumter (Bushnell), Kevin Pettis of Lawton Chiles (Tallahassee), and Sean McIntyre of Creekside (St. John's).

However, Dunnellon head coach Price Harris, Creekside head coach Sean McIntyre, and Madison County head coach Mike Coe brought ideas to the table that could change the present-day landscape of Florida football.

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Here are four takeaways from the meeting:

Jabari William (28), left, tries to tackle Markel King (20) as the Wellington Community High School Wolverines hosted the Palm Beach Central Broncos in Wellington, Fla, on Friday, October 29, 2021.
Jabari William (28), left, tries to tackle Markel King (20) as the Wellington Community High School Wolverines hosted the Palm Beach Central Broncos in Wellington, Fla, on Friday, October 29, 2021.

1. The high school transfer portal is open

FHSAA Director of Eligibility and Compliance Craig Damon reported that approximately 900 EL6 forms – recently renamed 'Transfer or Change in School' forms – were turned in for the 2021 season.

Damon also said that there's "no way in hell" that number accurately reflects just how many transfers took place in the state of Florida last year, according to FloridaHSFootball.com.

Seeing the numbers, Damon joins an entire community that's grown frustrated at the considerably ruthless poaching of student-athletes. Kirk Hoza of Calvary Christian Academy submitted an agenda item requesting that FHSAA bylaw 37.1.2 be dissolved.

The recruiting bylaw pertains to impermissible benefits and improper contact between coaches and athletes.

Hoza's rationale included, "Talented young athletes and parents are duped into believing these are the institutions that actually care about them/their child because they are the only ones pressuring, urging and enticing them to attend (and even offering to fund attendance, provide rides and promise future scholarships).

"They also wrongly believe these are the only institutions that care about sports."

The committee agreed with Hoza that there is an "overwhelming recruiting problem" and that the rules surrounding it should be more strict or go away altogether.

The wildfire of recruiting has spread far beyond total containment, but Damon volleyed compromises that could be brought to the state legislature without violating statutes by eliminating the bylaw.

FloridaHSFootball.com reported that one of Damon's suggestions was for in-season transfers to only be permitted to compete during the regular season.

Cardinal Newman players get fired up for the start of their game against St. Andrew's in the 3A regional playoff game in West Palm Beach, Florida  November 12, 2021.
Cardinal Newman players get fired up for the start of their game against St. Andrew's in the 3A regional playoff game in West Palm Beach, Florida November 12, 2021.

2. The great metro vs. suburban debate

Splitting Florida schools into "metro" and "suburban" categories in efforts to level the postseason playing field isn't a new idea to the committee.

As a result, it could be one of the most quickly-implemented changes.

Harris brought the item to his fellow chairmen with a unanimous 9-0 vote to present the item to the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee for endorsement.

With the added classification category, classes would expand from 1A-8A to 1A-9A.

"Metro" schools would have four classes, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward, Duval, Orange, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties.

Harris found that with the exception of 1A schools, 89 percent of 2A-8A state championships from 2011 to present have been won by "metro" area schools. Furthermore, private schools and metro schools have commanded the 2A-6A classes, winning 53 of the 55 possible championships.

"Suburban" schools would include the 59 remaining Florida counties and five classes.

The present 1A classification would be split into two with "1A" still hosting "untouched" rural schools and "1B" accommodating "suburban" schools with less than 600 students.

All classes within their respective metro and suburban classifications would be separated into districts.

Even if the ADAC fails to approve the idea, the item will still go before the Board of Directors by the end of February in hopes of enacting the new classification for the 2022 and/or 2023 seasons.

Harris suggested that should this law be set into action, there would be fewer " 'blowouts' in our state playoffs" and optouts "based on competition levels."

Fans watch Palm Beach Central  game against Jupiter on October 1, 2021 in Wellington, Florida.
Fans watch Palm Beach Central game against Jupiter on October 1, 2021 in Wellington, Florida.

3. Redefining districts

Should Florida schools not be reclassified into metro or suburban programs, Harris and McIntyre both suggested that members of classes 1A through 4A return to district play.

"This would allow schools the opportunity to play for something during the regular season, as well as take some of the burden off of scheduling 10 games," Harris said.

With districts being reinstated among small schools, champions would automatically advance to playoffs and other qualifiers would be determined by RPI rankings like members of classes 5A through 8A.

Once again, the committee motioned the item forward unanimously on its first read.

The Glades Day football team competes against Champagnat Catholic in a playoff game on Nov. 19, 2021.
The Glades Day football team competes against Champagnat Catholic in a playoff game on Nov. 19, 2021.

4. Revisiting the RPI

The FHSAA changed its RPI system for the third time in four years in 2019.

Now, its latest index system is on deck to be implemented in the next two years after the committee voted 9-0 in favor of the motion.

Madison County head coach Mike Coe called for the FHSAA to abandon its own RPI for seeding and use a "modified version of MaxPreps" used by all other FHSAA team sports, including volleyball, basketball, soccer, and more.

McIntyre called the modified MaxPreps ratings "the only true way to get an accurate strength of schedule."

In 2021, a number of programs that played notably weak schedules were named the high seed and saw early exits in the postseason.

"All 10-0, 9-1, 8-2 teams aren’t the same because of strength of schedule," McIntyre said.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: FHSAA discusses metro vs. suburban, transfers, and playoff seeding

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