From the moment it adopted a policy to allow struggling football programs to move down one classification, the OSAA knew it must devise criteria for them to move back up.
Members of the OSAA’s football ad-hoc committee rolled up their sleeves and got to work on that issue last month, suggesting some benchmarks in their latest update.
Last fall, 26 schools exercised their option to play down one classification for a two-year period by meeting the criteria: teams with two-year or four-year winning percentages of 22 or lower; or those that played 12 or fewer in-classification games in the last four years.
So what would determine if they stay or return to their original classification?
The committee suggests they move back up if they post a two-year, in-classification winning percentage of at least 67 and win a playoff game, or they make it as far as the semifinals in the state playoffs.
“I think it’ll change before they make a final recommendation,” OSAA assistant executive director Brad Garrett said. “They drew a line out there. They wanted to start some place and get some feedback.”
Of those 26 schools, nine posted winning records:
- 5A (6): Forest Grove (6-4), South Eugene (5-4)
- 4A (2): None
- 3A (4): Madras (5-4), Hidden Valley (5-4)
- 2A (4): Warrenton (5-3)
- 1A (10): Lowell (7-3), Bonanza (6-4), Pilot Rock (6-3), Adrian (7-3)
Eight of those nine teams made the playoffs. Lowell and Adrian won 1A playoff games before being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
If a team that has moved down fails to win 22 percent of its games inside that classification in a two-year period, the committee supports allowing it to move down another classification.
Several schools struggled after moving down last fall (in-classification records):
- 5A: Benson (0-8), Cleveland (1-7), McKay (1-8)
- 3A: Corbett (1-6), Siuslaw (0-5)
- 2A: Creswell (1-8), Riverside (0-5)
- 1A: Waldport (1-8), Myrtle Point (1-7)
The committee also discussed the idea of moving teams up one classification if they are deemed too dominant. The members did not reach a consensus on benchmarks, though.
“They were all over the board on that,” Garrett said. “I think in general, the majority of people in the association probably could support some type of defined criteria that says, ‘Hey, if you win four straight titles, you’re going up.’”
One possible way to define dominance is a point system, which has been adopted by other state associations. For example, teams are awarded points for levels of playoff wins, and if they cross a designated point threshold over a defined period of time, they are required to move up.
One of the topics expected to get more play in the near future is the potential benefits of switching from the current 6-8-11-player structure to 6-9-11.
Many of the smaller 2A schools are struggling to field 11-man teams, and switching to 9-man would be a more attractive option than 8-man, according to Garrett.
“They would be so much better fit in a 9-man game,” Garrett said. “I think it’s easier for them to make that move. And the larger 8s certainly could do it. We need to start having the conversation because the jump from 11 to 8 is too large of a jump.”
Schools that lack enough players to go from 8-man to 9-man could have the option to play 6-man. The 6-man game was introduced last season as a two-year pilot program, but does not include a championship playoff.
“Based on my contacts, if and as soon as the OSAA executive board creates a championship in 6-man football, you’re going to see a number of 8-man schools go to 6-man,” Garrett said.