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Jim Naveau: Competitive balance not going away


August 22. 2013 11:49PM
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Are you ready for another year of debating competitive balance?



Ready or not, you’re going to get it after an Ohio High School Athletic Association proposal, which was supposed to address what many see as an imbalance between public and private schools in athletics, was voted down by a narrow margin for the third year in a row last week.



This year’s proposal replaced a ballot item which would have had schools decide if there should be separate public and private tournaments.



Backers of that agenda pulled their plan in March in favor of another attempt at competitive balance. They say they will come back with another two-tournaments proposal in 2014 and won’t be taking it off the ballot this time.



Finding a perfect plan that makes everyone happy isn’t possible. At least not in this universe. People found many reasons not to vote for the competitive balance plans.



But it is not just the substance of the three rejected plans that was imperfect. Sometimes, the presentation also was lacking.



In the first two attempts, the OHSAA — an organization for school athletics — went against unofficial Rule No. 1 when schools submit a proposal to the voters. You need to keep it simple.



The 2011 and 2012 competitive balance plans included a school boundary factor, a socio-economic factor based on the number of free lunches and a tradition of success factor.



That’s like running a renewal levy, a bond issue to build a new school and a school district income tax all at the same time as one item on the ballot. Somebody might like one part of it, others might like two of the three, but getting all three approved is a tough sell.



This year, the OHSAA’s effort was hurt when it fell into that old trap of careless students. It didn’t check its homework.



Rushing to get the latest competitive balance proposal passed in only seven weeks, the OHSAA accepted enrollment figures for 2013-14 from the state department of education without verifying that they looked reasonable.



When the numbers for around half the schools in the state appeared to be significantly inaccurate, confidence in the 2013 plan plummeted, even among some people leaning toward voting for it.



So, it’s almost certain there will be another round of voting, maybe even on both a fourth competitive balance proposal and a separate tournaments proposal in 2014.



Or, as OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross pointed out during a teleconference on Thursday, the organization’s board of directors could simply impose a new system to adjust competitive balance without a vote by the schools.



He said he didn’t want to do that because this was such a big issue, but that it is possible for the OHSAA to make changes on its own.



A few other items:



— The Big Ten has announced its 2014 football schedules, which had to be changed with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland and the realignment of the divisions.



Maybe the most interesting thing about Ohio State’s schedule is that it won’t play a traditional Big Ten team until Nov. 1 when it faces Illinois.



In the quirkiest item on the new schedule, Michigan will play at Michigan State two years in a row, 2013 and 2014.



The team that appears to benefit most from the new schedule is Wisconsin, which will not play Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State in 2014 and plays at home against Nebraska.



Nebraska fans are probably less than excited with their Big Ten home schedule of Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue and Minnesota.



— The children of two former Cincinnati Reds players made news for their basketball skills last week.



At an NBA combine, Shane Larkin, son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, recorded the highest vertical jump at 44 inches. Larkin is a 5-foot, 11-inch point guard who is expected to be a first-round draft choice.



Also, Taryn Griffey, one of the top high school girls basketball players in the country, committed to the University of Arizona. She is the daughter of Ken Griffey Jr.



Griffey was the Division 8A state player of the year in Florida as a sophomore before missing last season because of a knee injury.



Her decision was somewhat surprising because Arizona was 12-18 last year and finished tenth in the PAC-12. Her brother Trey is a wide receiver on the Wildcats football team.



— Several former Michigan football players participated in a fundraiser for the university’s Mott Hospital on Friday, so it was no surprise Ohio State and Notre Dame were the targets of a few verbal jabs.



Former safety Marcus Ray said, “Notre Dame is all about the dollars and Notre Dame knows Michigan is on the rise. They don’t need that game anymore because it’s not all about losing.”



Glen Steele, a defensive lineman on the 1997 national championship team, said, “Is Urban (Meyer) God? Moses? No.



“They went undefeated, but did it count? No,” Steele said. “Unfortunately for them, no. Well, why? Because they broke the rules. You can't do anything about that — try again next year.”





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