Notre Dame’s stout defense will be tested by a U-High offense averaging 42.5 points _lowres

Advocate photo by BRAD KEMP -- Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook Jr.'s plan using a metro/rural break down for the football playoffs as opposed to the current system of nonselect/select has received some favorable reviews.

The LHSAA used much the same system to classify teams and crown state champions for decades.

So what happens when there’s a fresh idea like the metro/rural schools concept pitched by Notre Dame-Crowley Athletic Director-football coach Lewis Cook?

We’ll have to wait and see, but so far, it’s sounds pretty darned good.

The words “metro/rural” have a better feel than the select/nonselect terms the LHSAA has used since splitting its football championships two years ago. Right after the select/nonselect playoff plan passed one of my doctors lectured me, saying the terminology was “demeaning.”

Why wouldn’t you select all children? She wasn’t interested in an explanation, which reminded me again that perception can be reality for many folks.

I’m probably not the only person who thought about “Green Acres,” the 1960s television show the first time I heard the rural-metro plan mentioned by Cook in late May. Yes that was my humorous perception.

Cue the music

The (lopsided) scores …

Crowds roar

Rarified air …

Jackson Square

Cook’s plan seemed to strike the right chord with coaches in attendance at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s Coaches Clinic last week. Cook said it also got positive reviews from the task force charged with addressing the LHSAA’s split-related issues.

“Our society has changed and so have the demographics,” Cook said. “A lot of the metro areas keep getting larger.

“Where my school is located we’re fishing in a city pond that has maybe 500 people. Whereas in Lafayette Parish a school might have 5,000 in the pond. People are moving to those areas. They’re not moving to rural areas.”

Cook said the metro/rural model is in the formative stages, even though it debuted with three possible methods for placing schools into divisions last week.

Some tweaking has already begun. Since meeting with coaches, two schools previously listed as metro, West Ouachita and Northwood-Shreveport, have been moved to rural. Cook said a 9.5-mile boundary between metro/rural areas may be dropped in favor of a general dividing line. As metro boundaries grow, other changes would happen.

The major thing the metro/rural plan does is this: It brings select/nonselect or public/private schools back together to compete for championships. That alone may stop the clamoring from legislators and valuable sponsors who want to see the schools reunited.

There can be no illusions of things going back to the “good old days” from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, etc. Cook’s plan acknowledges that just can’t happen. And he has the numbers to back it up.

From 1981 to 1999, rural schools made up 55 percent of the schools competing in the LHSAA’s football finals. That total has dropped to 38 percent since. Though it was viewed as a fix for those issues, the select/nonselect plan isn’t. Only 39 percent of the schools in the football finals were from rural areas in 2013-14.

Cook said the basic metro/rural idea sat on his desk in a raw, planning stage for several years. He and his staff, led by assistants James McCleary and Lew Cook III, started to flesh it out.

Classifying schools as metro/rural is definitely the out-of-the-box kind of idea LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine and perhaps some others hoped for.

Is Louisiana ready for it? Could it be used for other sports? Cook thinks so.

The current two-year classification plan provides time to work on it. The LHSAA would have to amend its constitution and bylaws to put this plan or many others in place by 2017-18 at the earliest.

“Green Acres” is a rural myth these days. Green pastures that benefit metro/rural schools might just be the ticket.

Dates and such

University High seeks two certified nonfaculty volleyball coaches who will be paid.

Contact UHS coach Bonita Johnson at (225) 772-1633 or bjohns1@lsu.edu.

  • Tara seeks one team for its volleyball tournament set for Sept. 18-19.

Interested schools should contact THS coach Barry Jackson at (225) 927-6100 or (225) 925-2668. Send email to bjackson57@ebrschools.org.