No change to prep football schedule

The Iowa State High School Athletic Association made some changes to the football schedule, but not the major one that was being proposed.

The nine-man board of control decided not to vote on a decision that would have sliced a week off the regular season, sticking with the traditional nine-game regular season format for at least the next two years.

“I’m happy with their decision to keep things status quo for at least two more years,” said Fort Dodge head coach Matt Miller, whose Dodgers have made the current version of the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. “I think the biggest thing (about going to eight games), would be money issues at the gate being a detriment to the schools.

“They made a great decision to wait and study it instead of jumping in head-first. I think it needed to be researched and talked about more.”

The state’s all-time prep football wins leader, St. Edmond head coach Dick Tighe, agreed.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” said Tighe, whose Gaels had a school-best second place finish at state this past fall. “At that stage of the season (playoffs), who wants to wait a week to play. I’m glad they didn’t cut any games out.”

The playoff format, however, will change starting this coming fall.

The IHSAA implemented a 125-mile travel limit for the first round of the postseason. It also got rid of preset brackets, which now means postseason pairings will be reformatted after each round of the playoffs, with geography taken into consideration.

“Rebracketing is not a big issue,” Miller said. “They’ll base it more on geography, and if you’re the top teams, you’re still going to get a home game.”

Opponents to the nine-game season were reluctant to keep it the same because of the short turnaround time in the playoffs. Teams had the potential of playing four games in a 15-day span. The worries of injuries and recovery time was a concern.

“Player safety was talked about, but I think there is a lot of other things that we can do for safety,” Miller said. “Even the top schools like Valley that bring in $18,000 for a game and the smaller schools that bring in $1,800 or more would suffer financially (by eliminating a game).”

If the schedule would have been changed and games would have started a week earlier, that also could have presented problems.

“You run into overlap with baseball season there, and of course, hotter temperatures,” said Tighe, whose Gaels have qualified for the playoffs in eight of the last 10 seasons. “You’re not supposed to go more than 125 miles (in the first round of the playoffs), so I think that is a good deal.”

The IHSAA will announce the new football district assignments on Thursday at noon.