So what will the Louisiana High School Athletic Association look like after Friday?
Nobody really knows.
All-important votes by principals Friday at the LHSAA convention will determine that.
Will the split playoff format for football spill over into baseball, softball and basketball?
Will football come back together?
Will there be a sixth classification added to help bring some of the schools back together?
Or will things stay the same until new Executive Director Eddie Bonine comes up with a better plan?
It was hard to tell Thursday during the convention in Baton Rouge, with various opinions floating around the Crown Plaza hotel, site of the convention.
“It has been surprisingly quiet,” said Ouachita Parish principal Todd Guice, past LHSAA president. “I don’t know how to take that. Either everybody has their minds made up or they have no clue which way they are going to vote. I have talked to a lot of people, and they seem to be all over the board.”
Those were Guice’s thoughts shortly after Thursday’s class meetings.
The general assembly will begin voting on proposals at 9 a.m. Friday.
Bonine is hoping any drastic changes will be put on hold.
“I’m asking for blind trust so that we can pull everybody together and discuss the questions and all the stuff that is eating at everybody,” Bonine said. “Everywhere I go, people are having nice bold conversations with each other. Well, we need to get that all together for the common good.”
Bonine, who has served as executive director in Nevada, will officially begin his duties in Louisiana on March 2.
“I don’t want to push something through just to push something through,” Bonine said. “The time line for me is to get through basketball season, and then at that point, we’ll get the communication going.”
There were various opinions.
Rummel football coach Jay Roth wants to see the association get away from the public (nonselect) and private (select format).
“I am in favor of us playing together.” Roth said. “I want to play everyone in my classification. I don’t want to have to wonder who the real state champion is at the end of the year.”
Roth led Rummel to a state title in 2012 when the association was unified. He won another one in 2013, the first year of the split format.
“I don’t think its split down party lines like last time, with it being public and private,” Roth said.
“Some people want us all back together, and some people are standing their ground.”
Count Parkway football coach David Feaster among those in favor of the split.
“If all the principals come in and vote on what they want to do, I think we are going to split in more sports,” Feaster said. “And then I think we will come back the next year and split the rest of them. There are principals who think football has been great the last two years with the split. It’s very encouraging in every weight room around the state now that the athletes working out feel like they have a shot at winning. And that’s what a lot of principals want. . . . When you do it, it’s apples against apples and oranges against oranges.”
A key figure in whether or not the LHSAA opts to split its championship events beyond football, Many Principal Norman Booker III, did not use Thursday’s 2A meeting as a platform to discuss his proposals to extend the split playoffs to include baseball, softball and basketball.
Booker did get involved in some roundtable discussions early in the day but only stated his case when asked to after the 2A meeting.
“My rationale behind my proposals is to more or less align those sports — basketball, softball and baseball with football,” Booker said. “My concession is to amend those to make them match whatever passes in football. Football has led the way in this (split) process.
“For 2A this is a slam dunk because we’ve had Curtis and Evangel with us. If 5A and 4A decide, they’d like to play together I’d have no problem with that. The enrollment processes for private and public schools is from one end of the spectrum to the other. I just think the most safest and equitable way to compete in playoffs is to be separated.”
Mark Jeanmard, athletic director at Pope John Paul II, a nonselect school, doesn’t see it that way. He said the split format gives a false perception.
“When it all said and done for me, it’s about the rulebook,” Jeanmard said. “The problem with a split between public and private is there’s an assumption that all private schools cheat, and you’re putting all the schools together because of that.
“To me, it doesn’t matter who it is, public or private, you should be punished if you don’t follow the rules. I’d like to see less emphasis on championships and more on making sure the rules are followed.”
Bonine simply wants to fix it if it’s broke.
“We’ve been in a split for two years, and we keep coming back to try and make adjustments to it,” he said. “If we’re doing that, then why don’t we just stop and make an adjustment that we can all live with instead keep trying to adjust as we go.”
It will be up to the principals to decide.
Friday morning they will.
“It’s hard to determine how things are going to go,” Warren Easton football coach Tony Hull said.
“There’s mutual views on all of the proposals. Each school wants to vote what’s best for their school, and I understand that. It’s kind of interesting to see how it turns out.”