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Courtney, Taylor ‘gassed’ about TSSAA grid changes


With at-large tiebreakering formula to qualify for football playoffs in 2009 a mystery to Farragut’s Eddie Courtney and Bearden’s Brad Taylor, both head coaches have come out against any changes now etched in stone by TSSAA starting in ’09.

“It’s based on who [TSSAA] thinks ought to be in the playoffs,” Courtney said about not understanding new “at-large” playoff qualifications. “What do I have to do to make sure I get one of these at-large bids?”

Within six classifications, Farragut and Bearden, supposedly new 6A schools, would have a more localized regular season “district” to include new 5A schools, supposedly intended to reduce rising transportation costs.

Under the regular season umbrella of Class AAA, 6A and 5A schools would then split up come playoff time into 32-team brackets, with top two 6A and 5A teams in each district earning automatic playoff bids. From there, determining the remaining playoffs teams is a mystery to the coaches.

“The only thing I have concerns about is there's going to be controversy anytime you go at-large, which they are going to do,” said Courtney, entering his 13th season as FHS skipper this fall. "If you play a schedule [of] 10 games you ought to know where you stand all year long about winning and losing.

“That tiebreaker, I don’t know what message that sends? I think it’s a flat overreaction,” he added. “That's what I want to see written, the tiebreaker.

“I don't want it to come to where I have to beat somebody by as much as I can to get into the playoffs. That's just not right.”

Farragut and Bearden’s district supposedly includes several current and former “District 4-AAA” schools in other sports: Heritage, William Blount, Maryville, West, Lenoir City, South-Doyle and Hardin Valley Academy in its inaugural varsity season.

While each school in Knox County has to pay for its own gas for athletic trips, Courtney answered critics who might think FHS has a built-in advantage with more money to spend as a large school. “They have an argument, I understand that,” he said. “But I think we were in a very good situation here, and I don’t know why break it for us? I liked how it worked for us.”

That’s despite facing two trips to Hamilton County in 2008 versus Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy.

Should any changes be made? “I would have made none,” Courtney said. “I have to operate on what I make at the gate, I don’t get anything from Knox County Schools.

“Like some school districts, they consider [athletic] bus transportation as just part of school. Some of these schools that we play don’t have to pay for buses. I have to pay for the buses,” he added. “I’m not speaking on behalf of somebody that’s a single-A program where that might be a real big issue for them.”

Taylor said he believes “there's some schools that had some power that pushed this. This was proposed long before gas prices went out of the roof. There are just some schools, they didn't want to do the 5-A travel.

“I liked it the way it was … because you knew what you had to do to get to the playoffs, there's not a lot of guesswork involved,” Taylor added. ”I know coaches in our region, and other regions liked it the way it was. I know travel was an issue a little bit.”

Concerning cutting travel costs due to rapidly increasing gas prices, “I can understand that,” Taylor said. “Gas is going to be more, and we're definitely going to see it more this year as opposed to any year in the past.”

Having a state semifinal playoff trip to Smyrna added to its 2007 football travel costs, which include an annual trip to the Tri-Cities, “I think we spent around $10[000] to $12,000 last year busing,” the second year BHS head coach said.

Taking an educated guess on 2008, which will vary depending on possible playoff travel, “I'd say probably $12[000] or $13,000 I would think,” Taylor added.

Would Taylor have made any changes? “I think I would have probably kept it the same way,” he said.

 

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