New Jerseyâ€™s high school football playoff system could be in for a dramatic overhaul thanks to a proposal being presented to the NJSIAA advisory committee today in Robbinsville.
The proposal, which is a combination of two previous proposals, involves expanding the playoffs in order to crown a single state champion in each of the four public school groups. No final decision will be reached today, as the debate is just beginning.
North Jersey athletic directors and football coaches seem divided over the proposals. The Record polled 30 coaches and athletic directors, and 21 favored a change of some sort in the current playoff system.
Most like the theory of one champion in each group, but sticking points include the addition or subtraction of games and the potential loss of traditional Thanksgiving matchups.
“I think this is a good starting point because everybody should have a true state championship,” saidÂ Glen Rock athletic director Frank Violante. “If itâ€™s good enough for basketball and baseball, why not football? Sometimes weâ€™ve got to give a little something up to get something in return.”
But how much are programs willing to surrender? One version of the plan calls for an eight-game regular season, which means teams that donâ€™t make the playoffs will play one less game.
“My problem is that we fought for years to get extra [regular-season] games, and now they are saying to take one game off the table,” saidÂ Park Ridge football coach Gary Mioli. “I donâ€™t mind one state champion, but I donâ€™t want to shortchange the kids who work so hard all year. In a way, thatâ€™s backwards.”