FHSAA considering big changes within the structure of high school football in Florida

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:05 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There are some big changes currently being considered by the Florida High School Athletic Association, specific to how football is structured here in Florida. These changes could mark a significant makeover for the sport, which includes changes in the regular season and playoffs across the state. Our go to guy with these kinds of issues, Wewahitchka A.D. and head football coach Bobby Johns who served on the FHSAA Board for six years. And coach Johns started by telling me this about these proposals.

“Basically what it is doing is pulling out those huge counties, such as Miami-Dade, Duval, Orange, Brevard and those type of things. They’re pulling all of those counties out of the general population, and creating a four classification grouping with metro schools. And then a four classification grouping with all of what they’re calling the suburban schools.”

The Football Advisory Committee, made up of coaches from around the state, is pushing these proposed changes saying they will create a more level playing field. Especially when it comes to winning state titles.

”There’s a lot of research that’s been done over the last decade that shows how many state championships are won by those metro counties.” coach Johns said. “So it was proposal obviously that was put together by the schools that are in the suburban side of that to try to find a way to get those big counties separated because of the obvious advantages that they have over the smaller counties.”

In fact the date presented by the Advisory Committee claims to show 89% of the state championships won in football over the last decade have come from teams from within the eight largest metro areas of the state.

That proposal also aims to bring change how all classes play their games and make the playoffs. As opposed to the current RPI ratings system that’s based on wins and losses, and strength of schedule, among other stats.

“And then part of that proposal is to go back to having districts for all the classifications. Whereas right now, class 1A through 4A does not have districts. Part of that proposal was to put everyone back playing a district schedule like it used to be. So it is basically right now it has passed twice through the football Coaches Advisory Committee and twice through the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee, which is the proper procedure. So now it will go to the Board of Directors.” With so many teams in our area within those lower classes, especially 1A, well these changes would be dramatic. Coach Johns says he believes whether or not you support the jump back to districts depends on your program and how tough it is for you to schedule opponents every season.

“Such as Blountstown, Port St. Joe and Baker, and Madison County, they’re going to be all in favor of going back to districts because it puts them with at least, say four or five guaranteed games every year. Schools like us we really like the independence of being able to schedule without the district component. Me personally, I’m in favor of staying without districts. When this came (to do away with districts) I was at Vernon, and I was in favor of keeping districts. So the bottom line is I think overall if you ask 20 coaches, you’re going to get the answer that suits their program the best in this situation.”

These proposals will be voted on by the FHSAA Board of Directors February 27th and 28th.

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