published Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress presents new classification proposal

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Looking to simplify the state's high school football playoff scenario, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress unveiled a classification plan designed to combine the best aspects of two proposals.

During the TSSAA's Board of Control summer meetings at the Embassy Suites, Childress explained Tuesday night the plan, and the nine-member board then opted to put off voting until August to allow them to discuss it with the schools they represent.

"There are some pros and cons to it, but since it's brand new we have to be able to look it over and let the schools we represent tell us if they want it," said Sequatchie County principal Tommy Layne, who represents the Chattanooga area on the board.

Under the new format, the 32 schools with the state's highest enrollments automatically would qualify for the Class 6A playoffs. All other teams would be divided into five classes, based on enrollment figures, with the top four teams from each region qualifying for the playoffs.

"It's kind of the best of both worlds in that it eliminates all the questions of how a team makes the playoffs that were such a problem under the six-class system we have been using," Childress said. "But it also lets the coaches and administrators know we heard their concerns when they told us they felt they couldn't compete with the teams with the largest enrollments."

The new format would mean that 16 more teams would make the playoffs than currently qualify, and technically records won't matter for teams in the 6A bracket since they are guaranteed to qualify. Also, nonregion games no longer will be as much of a factor in determining what teams earn playoff spots in the other five classes, which could mean those teams will be more willing to schedule tougher nonleague opponents.

According to current figures, there are no Chattanooga-area programs that would rank among the 32 highest-enrollment schools.

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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