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Classification changes could be coming for high school football

The governing body for Tennessee high school athletics could once again change the landscape of high school football in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Board of Control met in Murfreesboro on June 11 where executives presented two proposals that would change the current system of classification for the state playoffs.
According to the meeting proceedings released by the TSSAA, the board is considering three separate plans, which if chosen, would go into effect for the 2015 football season.
The first option would be no changes and to continue to use the current format of 6 classes.
This system has been in use since the 2009 season and breaks division one schools into three classes during the regular season, before splitting into six classes for the postseason.
This complex system that has been utilized for the past five seasons determines that the top two teams from each district are automatic playoff qualifiers.
The remaining playoff spots are allotted to teams based on a complicated criteria that factors in wins, strength of schedule and tiebreakers.
Such a criteria has brought problems since its inception, with many teams on the cusp of the playoffs, not really knowing what they need to do to get in.
The first proposed change from Tuesday night’s meeting would return region one football to a system similar to the one used prior to the changes that took place following the 2008 season.
Division one schools would be classified evenly across the state with eight regions placed in each of the five classifications. The top four finishers from each region would qualify for the state playoffs.
The third proposal would be to continue to utilize six classes, but the 32 largest schools in the state based on student enrollment would be grouped together in the highest class.
All 32 teams would qualify for the playoffs.
Classes 1A to 5A would be determined based on student enrollment.
Both proposals would alleviate some of the confusion regarding the current system, but would lead to longer travel times for some teams.
Option three would also expand the playoffs by 16 additional teams across division one.
If a new option is chosen, the current district groupings in all other high school sports will also be abandoned.
The board voted to table a decision until later this summer, but any possible changes could have major ramifications for all schools in the Big 7.