Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
By Gary R. Rasberry
Schedule changes are coming for MAC football starting 2008
  A year after adding a team, the Midwest Athletic Conference will revise its football schedule after the 2007 season, with each team playing one fewer conference game.
With the amount of the teams in the league staying the same, the conference will return to an eight-game conference schedule starting in the 2008 season.
Unlike before, when each team had a floating bye week, the new schedule will block out the first two weeks as non-conference games with week three beginning conference play.
The process of deciding "who won't be playing who" was based on a formula that took into account the teams' records over the last two seasons and the enrollment of male students in grades 10-12 for each school. The plan will be reviewed after the 2009 season with possibilities for changes in 2010.
Based on the current formula for 2008, Coldwater, the largest football school in the MAC, won't play Fort Recovery, which is in the middle of the pack based on size, but has won just six conference games since 1995.
Fort Recovery High School Principal Dave Warvel said the main focus for the change was on the athletes, not just in Fort Recovery but for all MAC teams.
"What's best for the kids, for Fort Recovery as well as the MAC kids," said Warvel. "We were looking at a situation that would benefit all school districts. Everyone can look at their own school, but you have to look at everyone else's kids, too."
The move was made with the hope that adding a non-conference game could also allow more MAC teams to make the playoffs. Last year, four teams went to the playoffs with Marion Local and St. Henry winning state titles.
With the new schedule, MAC teams will face nonconference opponents that could bring in more computer points.
"There were 3-4 ways it was looked at," said MAC commissioner Tim Buschur. "That's been out there for at least eight years. It just so happened that several schools brought it in as an option."
Many options were discussed.
"People can say 'Why not bring in teams or go into divisions?'," said Coldwater athletic director Eric Goodwin. "You have to be realistic. What teams want to come into the MAC and the teams that are willing, would we really want them in? The division format wouldn't work because we couldn't agree on how to split the divisions up. ... Someone was going to be unhappy in this situation. Perhaps this isn't the perfect solution, but hopefully it's a step in the right direction."
The change seems to have had united praise.
"That's what I like about the MAC," said Warvel. "Like Tim said about computer points and looking at in the future getting more teams in the playoffs. The MAC is pretty tough. It's looking at the top down or the bottom up, however you want to look at it. It's what's best for the MAC."
"I think it's a good thing for the schools at the top," said Goodwin. "It gives us, and other schools, the opportunity to advance in computer points a little bit. It's a good things for the schools who are at the bottom (of the standings) right now. Rather than play a St. Henry or Coldwater, they can find someone who's a little more competitive on their schedule."
New Bremen AD Gary Jones concurs.
"I think it's going to benefit all our schools," said Jones. "It helps us get more computer points, but it will help some other schools gain some more too. It does allow a small school to not play a large school for that year, if they so choose."
The revival of a second non-league game also brings back the concerns of scheduling for athletic directors who had only to schedule one nonconference game this past season and for the upcoming 2007 season.
"It's not throughout the season," said Buschur, who previously served as AD at Fort Recovery and Coldwater. "Week one is a lot easier to find a game than week seven. It's weeks one and two, not that floating week. I know, as an AD, it was (difficult) at Coldwater.
"At Fort Recovery, schools wouldn't play us because we were in the MAC, and that was just when we were starting out," added Buschur.
"For us, it was a week four. For others it was a week seven (game)," said Goodwin. "That was the big difference. The opportunities are out there. When you have a successful program and a successful league, the concerns are finding any open date."
For Jones, who will go through scheduling for football for the first time, the week-two game should not be hard to fill.
"From what I hear, it's easier to schedule a week two than it is in week 10," said Jones. "Everyone's in league play by that point. To try to get anything from (week) four on, maybe even week three on, is almost impossible. Week two still has that option."
Distance and competition are a concern, especially for Goodwin in scheduling Coldwater's game. Goodwin admitted that he's already received a few "No" responses from some teams.
"I'm pretty realistic. We're going to get what's left," said Goodwin. "We're trying to find something within two hours. After that, you want to try and match up with the same opening - if we have an opening for a home game, they have an opening for an away game. Then you want to play close to your division (Coldwater is Division IV). You'd like to stay around Divisions III-IV-V, but you take what you get."
One scenario that may play out is the possibility of big rivals not playing each other for two years due to the new scheduling formula in the MAC. Marion Local and Minster, which have played over 50 times against each other through the years, are slated not to play each other if the current formula stands.
"If it's a rivalry game and you want to keep playing, you have that option," said Jones. "The big thing is to create more computer points that we can possibly get another team, maybe two, into the playoffs."
Goodwin said the plan to review everything after the 2009 season will hopefully not see big rivalries come to a standstill.
"If it were (Coldwater not playing) St. Henry, Tim (St. Henry athletic director Tim Boeckman) and I would do everything possible to make it a non-league game for those two years," said Goodwin. "That's a key why we're going to look at it (the formula) on a two-year rotation."

Not Playing:
In a formula set up by the MAC athletic directors, the following matchups will not take place during the 2008 football season in the new football schedule. The formula took into account the success of MAC teams along with the male enrollment (grades 10-12) at each school.
Coldwater-Fort Recovery
St. Henry-Parkway
St. John's-Anna
Marion Local-Minster
Versailles-New Bremen

Source: Fort Recovery High School newsletter
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