Arceneaux: Decision to split playoffs hardly creates perfect situation

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The venom spewed by public school

principals toward the private schools and their dominant football

programs reached a new

high Friday when Louisiana High School Athletic Association

principals voted to separate public and private schools for the

football playoffs in each of the next two seasons.

The principals will get to enjoy seeing the private powers beat up on each other in the playoffs, but the action taken Friday

hardly creates a perfect situation.

What it does is satisfy the blood lust of principals and coaches who are tired of seeing a few private powers, most notably

John Curtis Christian and Evangel Christian, but lately Parkview Baptist, Notre Dame, Karr and Ouachita Christian as well,

form an oligarchy that passed most of the football championship trophies among themselves.

Ensuring private schools won’t win the Class 5A-1A football trophies is the only sure thing the split accomplishes in the

short term.

In the process, the split creates a new set of problems, some of which must be quickly solved before next season begins. Others

may lead to long-reaching problems that could include the departure of private schools from the organization.

As things stand, as few as 27 public

schools could be competing for next year’s Class 1A championship. In a

32-team bracket.

Grand Lake may have a playoff bid secured before it ever takes the

field for a varsity game as part of the program’s rebirth.

It has not been determined how the private school playoff teams will be selected, only that participating coaches will vote

to seed them. The power ratings that are used now can’t be applied because the public schools will be competing in various

classes for the regular seasons before being lopped together into two divisions for the playoffs.

That’s probably an issue the public schools, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of the split, are not concerned with. They

just wanted private schools out, and got their wish.

There are still several schools that

offer dual curriculums that might be sent to play with the private

schools. Schools that

get more than 25 percent of its enrollment from outside their

designated attendance zone will be designated “select” schools

and sent to play with the privates for the postseason.

One of the big questions now will be, What price did the desired split cost?

It could be a big one.

Being shunned, with widespread recruiting and varying eligibility rules among the reasons given by the public schools, does

not give the privates much reason to remain in the association, in terms of football.

With the private schools also filling the trophy cases with titles from other sports, it is probably not too long before a

similar split occurs in other sports as well.

At which point, necessity might be the only motivating factor that keeps the private schools in the organization.

There were alternatives the principals

could have considered, including a past proposal — which failed — that

would have allowed

private schools to play up just in football, on the condition that

they move into the highest class, which would have been

a “super class” made up of those powers looking for the highest

level of competition and the schools with the highest enrollments.

But, at Friday’s meeting, the intentions of the principals were clear: get rid of the private powers so we have a shot at

the trophies. Everything else will be worried about later.

Now they have the private schools out,

but maybe not really a better shot at the trophies. There is no

guarantee a small group

of public schools — such as West Monroe and Acadiana in 5A,

Neville in 4A or Haynesville in 1A, won’t dominate the championship

games the same way the private schools did.

The proposed solution passed Friday may

simply result in new, and still few, powers ruling the land. Should

that occur, the

only things gained will have been animosity from the private

schools and further dilution of the championship trophies with

two more being given out in a state that probably has too many

classifications to begin with.

• • •

Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at warceneaux@americanpress.com