Fambrough: Questions abound and little time for LHSAA to find answers _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

“After further review, the ruling on the field has been reversed. Illegal procedure. LHSAA.”

OK, so those weren’t exactly the words of LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine, but that’s what it felt like Friday.

Except, of course, nobody really knew the play was actually under review in the first place.

But Bonine and an attorney reviewed it and shocked high school football coaches all across the state with Friday’s announcement.

The split playoff format of select and non-select teams, adopted in 2013 and used for the past three seasons, was implemented without going through the proper procedures, according to Bonine and the attorney.

Here are the two biggest problems with that.

First, there’s no way such a huge decision, one that affected the entire landscape of football across the entire state, should have been implemented without going through the proper procedures.

Second, no way should it have taken three whole years for someone to discover that it wasn’t done through the proper procedures.

It makes you wonder what other rules we are playing by that didn’t go through the correct channels before implementation.

And surely there are skeptics out there who wonder if this was just a loophole found by an attorney to try to get rid of a system that many aren’t happy with.

But at this point, none of that matters.

That’s all in the past.

What does matter is getting it right this time.

The chance to do that comes in two weeks during the LHSAA convention in Baton Rouge.

The convention’s agenda, which was set before Friday’s curveball announcement, is set and won’t be altered. So the split playoff format could be gone.

But it shouldn’t be. At least not if it’s what the school administrators and coaches prefer.

Like most coaches around here, I would like to see all the schools play in one classification.

But if the school officials and coaches want the split, they should be given a chance to go through whatever procedures were missed last time.

We shouldn’t do away with a system because of what may have just been a technicality.

But we should do away with a system if it’s not working and isn’t in the best interest of the students.

We’ve written enough about some of the lopsided playoff scores, especially in some of the earlier rounds, of the playoffs.

One of the biggest flaws in the split playoff format is that entirely too many teams make the playoffs.

Everybody doesn’t need to get a trophy.

But to bring everybody back together, the LHSAA will first have to fix what has caused the split in the first place.

If schools recruiting players is a problem, it needs to be addressed.

If not, all the proposals (select and non-select, metro and rural) are just putting a Band-aid on the problem instead of solving the root problem.

But here’s the good news.

Bonine, since taking over the LHSAA last year, has referred to himself as a “whiteboard guy.”

“What that means is when we put something on that whiteboard, we make sure we use dry-erase markers,” Bonine said last year. “When you write on something with a permanent marker, you ruin the board and it’s there and it takes some cleaning to get it off. If something is not working, I’m not too proud to say it’s not working.”

Bonine wiped the white board clean Friday.

It’s up to the LHSAA and school administrators to get it right (whatever right might be).

The kids are counting on you.