Contingency plan set for TSSAA football, still no firm start date
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The TSSAA Board of Control has finally adopted a contingency plan for the start of the 2020 high school football season. However, the plan still lacks a firm start date.
The board was given four options, plus a hybrid option, to consider and vote on at Wednesday meeting. The board voted almost unanimously for the hybrid option, which relies heavily on when Governor Bill Lee (R) exempts high school football from his order banning contact sports until Aug. 29.
This new hybrid plan ensures every team has at least two weeks of full contact practice before the first day of competition. Therefore, if Gov. Lee exempts the TSSAA from his order BEFORE Aug. 3, the season will go on as originally scheduled with Week 1 beginning Aug. 21.
If contact practice can’t start before Aug. 3, Week 1 will be eliminated from every team’s schedule. Region games affected will be rescheduled; however, no Tennessee Valley school falls under this category.
If contact practice can’t start before Aug. 10, Weeks 1 and 2 will be eliminated, with region games rescheduled. This would only affect Grace Baptist Academy’s game with Mt. Juliet Christian.
If contact practice can’t start before Aug. 17, playoffs for Division I classifications will be cut in half — from 32 teams to 16. Playoffs will begin at Week 13 instead of Week 12, and the games that were scheduled to be played during Week 3 would be moved to the end of the regular season at Week 12. Division II playoffs would be unaffected.
If contact practice can’t start before Aug. 24, non-region games in Week 4 would be eliminated. Region games would be rescheduled, and nine-team regions would be seeded for playoffs based on “pod” procedures listed in TSSAA’s scheduling memorandum.
If contact practice can’t start before Aug. 31, then the board will reconvene to come up with a new plan on how to move forward with the season.
This hybrid plan allows for the season to start even sooner than the originally delayed September 18th date. However, it still leaves decision-making up to the Governor’s office.
“Through Twitter and looking through some of the conversations in the immediate reaction that there’s a lot of frustration because we don’t have a firm start date, and coaches are so OCD on scheduling. And I’m that way,” Walker Valley coach Drew Akins said. “[But] this year, we just have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
I've asked a majority of our head coaches already, but for everyone else — parents, athletes, coaches, fans — what are your thoughts on the TSSAA's new hybrid contingency plan?
— Angela Moryan (@SidelineStormer) July 22, 2020
The biggest positive is that the plan allows teams to keep the majority of their regular schedule for this season, whereas other plans would have required schools to scramble to fill open dates after breaking contracts.
“It makes sense, and I really, really think the TSSAA is giving us the best chance to play a full season by adopting this hybrid plan. I think it’s well thought out and put together,” East Hamilton coach Grant Reynolds said.
Out of 25 Tennessee Valley head football coaches polled, an overwhelming majority of 18 said they are happy with the decision — five of which said the hybrid plan is the best possible option for the most football.
“I think anything we can do to be able to play I’m all for,” McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. “I think it’s a good plan.”
The TSSAA also unanimously passed new regulations for all fall sports. A full list is below: