The Salem News Fri Jun 08, 2012, 05:03 AM EDT
Members of the Mass. High School Football Coaches Association will be channeling their inner Tip O'Neill this summer, trying to whip up enough votes to push their statewide playoff proposal across the goal line.
The MIAA's Board of Directors voted yesterday to send the proposal to the general assembly this fall, meaning every member school of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association will get a "Yes" or "No" vote on whether or not to enact the proposal.
The plan creates a state football tournament that takes place over the final three weeks of the regular season. Thanksgiving Day games would be played as normal, followed by six state finals at Gillette Stadium the next Saturday.
Developed by the coaches association, the plan passed the muster of the MIAA's finance, football and tournament management committees in previous votes.
At their meeting in Franklin yesterday, the Board of Directors could have voted to enact the proposal, but instead sent to the general assembly to give every school a say.
Tentatively, the plan would begin in the 2013 football season if it wins approval this fall.
"Overall it leaves it on the table," said Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski, who was active in the plan's development and presentation to the public on the association's Web site at http://www.mhsfca.net.
The last statewide playoff proposal, which unlike the current proposal eliminated leagues entirely, failed before the general assembly in 2010. The hope among coaches is that the improvements to the plan will lead to more "Yay" votes.
"We're hoping we can educate people so they'll give it a chance," said Dembowski. "This plan is better than what we have now."
Those in favor of the plan cite the fact that it gives more teams a chance to win a true state championship. It also eliminates safety concerns from the current format that requires playoff teams to play three games in ten days (Thanksgving Day, a semi-final Tuesday and the Super Bowl Saturday).
Opponents are concerned about the uncertainty of November scheduling once the playoffs begin or are satisfied with the status quo.
"We're hoping to get more information out there to help principals, athletic directors and superintendents to understand the plan," said Dembowski. "Most football coaches get it. This is the best alternative and hopefully we can explain that well enough that schools will give it a chance."