The first round of the playoffs is history: check out our scoreboard and schedule for results.
The playoffs, which began in 1969, are 43 years old, and I think it’s great that we get to crown a legitimate state champion. Actually we will crown eight state champions, which could be too many.
As critical as I have been of the TSSAA over the years, it seems that I’m starting to feel sorry for them.
After all the playoff mistakes, it managed to mess up a bracket (this time 5A) and couldn’t properly and fairly fix it.
But they were doing better too. For instance there were no 1-9 or 2-8 teams in the playoffs this time and only four 3-7 teams (Pope John Paul, McEwen, Father Ryan and BTW).
So we have better matchups and games. And by using the website the TSSAA was doing a good job of informing fans and others about the playoff chances of all teams week to week, at least until the playoff announcement a week ago.
However, there are other problems which, evidently, have no solutions.
First there are 200 teams in the playoffs and, despite the fact that 185 of them have won half or more of their games, 200 are way too many. Money, of course, is the reason.
Greed is a terrible thing.
Another problem: The system makes teams play their district and then fill in with weak teams to get more wins and a higher seeding.
The best example of unfair treatment is, in fact, Blackman.
Blackman did not do fill in its schedule with weak teams and twice drove to Chattanooga to play good ones.
The Blaze, 7-3 is the only team in 6A who finished second and had to travel to play a weaker 5-5 Cookeville team.
This is very unfair to Blackman and also expensive, because they will miss out on hosting in the first round and pay heavy travel expenses including seven buses for the team and band.
They had to do it because the rules were set up that way.
In general coaches hate the system that makes you play your old district opponents a second time. Just look at the 6A brackets and where Siegel, Oakland, Blackman and Riverdale are placed.
Also, the 6A brackets are skewed.
The top bracket, with all four of our 6A teams, has 10 teams at 8-2 or better and 126 wins total. The bottom bracket has 6 teams at 8-2 or better and 114 wins total.
I’m laboring to be fair here, mainly because the TSSAA has taken a lot of hits over the last few years.
I do feel strongly about one thing. A playoff system that is not understood by the coaches, fans or players and barely passes a Board of Control vote is going to be viewed with suspicion and general distrust unless it works. And this one doesn’t work.
There has got to be a way to keep the best teams separated in at least the first round.
Why should Oakridge and Science Hill (both 9-1) play each other when over half the remaining teams are 7-3 or worse. If seeding is done properly shouldn’t both of them be playing one of them rather than each other.
In the meantime the playoffs will continue and the games will be played. The TSSAA will do some spinning and stumble on.
And, finally, an aside to my last remaining friend at the TSSAA: You may be correct, those ping pong balls used to determine the seeding in the state basketball tournament are starting to look pretty good.
Send your ideas to make the playoffs fair to Jeff Jordan at JJordanfamily@bellsouth.net.