Football: NJSIAA inches closer to public state championship games


By Phil Anastasia

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. -- One change in the football playoff system was made by the NJSIAA on Wednesday.

An even bigger change appears on the way.

"I think it's time," NJSIAA associate director Jack DuBois, who oversees football, said of the proposed expansion of the playoff system to include state championship games for public-school teams.

The NJSIAA's advisory committee on Wednesday approved a motion to change the organization's constitiution by removing a sentence that probibits state-championship games in in public-school football.

The motion now will be presented to the NJSIAA's executive committee in May.

If approved after two readings, the motion will go to the general membership for a vote in December.

Even it's not approved by the exeuctive committee -- which is unlikely --the question still can be placed on the ballot in December by a petition signed by 20 schools.

"It's going on the ballot," DuBois said.

If a two-thirds majority of the general membership approve a change in the constitution, the NJSIAA could have a drastically different football playoff system in place for the 2014 season.

Public-school football is the only sport in which the NJSIAA does not offer state-championship competition.

"I think we need to provide this opportunity for our schools and our student athletes," DuBois said at the NJSIAA's monthly executive committee meeting. "We're one of the few states that don't provide it."

A similar motion was rejected by the general membership by a narrow margin in December, 2011.

DuBois indicated that this motion would have a better chance of passing than the one in 2011 because it has been paired with a specfici proposal for a re-working of the football playoff system that was presented by officials of the Big North Conference at the annual athletic directors meeting in Atlantic City on March 19.

Under the proposal, the season would start the weekend after Labor Day and end the first weekend of December. Teams would play an eight-game regular season, with no byes.

A five-week playoff would begin the first weekend of November.

Depending on the date of Thanskgiving, there would be either three or four playoff rounds before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving week would remain open to allow teams to play those traditional rivalries games.

"Thanksgiving is not lost," DuBois said of the proposed playoff system.

Teams that don't qualify for the playoffs would be scheduled two consolation games by the NJSIAA. They also could arrange for a third consolation game, as long as it fell before Thanksgiving.

If they also played on Thanksgiving, non-playoff teams could participate in as many as 12 games.

Teams that reached the state finals and also played on Thanksgiving would play 14 games.

While the motion that will result in state championship games still must receive additional committee and general-membership approval, the NJSIAA made one change in its football playoff system on Wednesday.

Effective for the 2013 season, teams will qualify and earn seeding in the playoffs strictly on the basis of the power points from their best seven games out of their first eight.

DuBois said the NJSIAA will use a computer program to calculate each team's total and eliminate the lowest power-point game.

"The rationale is to encourage teams to go outside and schedule someone a little stronger without fear of losing power points," DuBois said.

Contact Phil Anastasia at Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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