For nearly four decades, Ada head coach Bob Olwin has seen a number of changes to rules, equipment and technology.
And as he prepares from another photo day, the veteran coach pretty much said things stay the same with players forgetting their shoulder pads or wearing the wrong color pants.
But one change Olwin has no control over was Ohio High School Athletic Association introducing competitive balance beginning with football this year.
The OHSAA reported that of the 718 schools that play football in Ohio, 75 schools moved up to a higher division due to competitive balance and/or a higher base enrollment number. In volleyball (790 schools), 51 moved up a division. In girls soccer (522 schools), 24 moved up a division, while in boys soccer (571 schools), 30 moved up a division.
For a team like Ada, which was in Division VII last year, moved up to Division VI last year due to enrollment and Olwin does not like the move.
Olwin, who admits he does not know the fine details of the new rule, is not changing up his approach to the season. However, he knows this new OHSAA rule could hurt his team making the playoffs, and if they do make the postseason, they find themselves in the tough Division VI that now features Coldwater, Marion Local and Fort Recovery.
“We are in the northern section which is better than being in the southern section on paper,” Olwin said. “We are looking at winning the nonleague games, win each game in the conference and see what happens.”
Olwin said he does not like the new rule that was instituted to try and make it an easier playing field for the public schools to compete with the parochial schools. It took four times for the competitive balance proposal to pass this year.
According to competitive balance regulations, the previous season’s roster data (grades 9-12) is used for affecting the following season’s additional roster count in the selected sports. The additional roster count is added to the school’s base enrollment number to determine the final adjusted enrollment count before divisional placements are made.
When the OHSAA made the announcement earlier this year, the OHSAA released , Dan Ross, the OHSAA commissioner said, “The committee studied the competitive balance factors and we listened to the feedback from our member schools,” Dr. Ross said, noting that the first three Competitive Balance Proposals were voted down by the membership in 2011, 2012 and 2013. “As we’ve said all along, our goal is to keep public and non-public schools together in the same postseason divisions, but competitive balance will help place those schools in the correct division based on the makeup of their roster. We are very pleased that this is now off the ground and we can see the results. We’ll continue to gather feedback and see what changes, if any, the committee wants to propose to the membership to vote on in the future.”
“I don’t know much about competitive balance but I don’t like it,” Olwin said. “Marion won state 300 times and there still right there at bottom and how is that competitive. Coldwater has won state nine out of 12 times and they are still in Division VI. I don’t get it.”
Olwin does not believe this new system is a step in the right direction and does not solve the problem.
“I’m not sure why it is there,” Olwin said. “If you won a state, weren’t you supposed to move up one or two divisions and I did not see that much going on. Heck people came down so I don’t know how they figured it.”
Owlin adds that while the Ada’s boys enrollment might be 120, approximately 30 show up to play football.
While Olwin is against this new proposal, two other teams in the area who were affected, St. Marys and Ottawa-Glandorf, both moved down and the two respective head coaches, see this as a step in the right direction.
Both Western Buckeye League teams moved down due to enrollment.
For St. Marys who made it to the regional finals last year, the Roughriders move down to Division IV.
“It doesn’t really change anything we do on a daily basis,” Frye said. “It does help a little bit to qualify for the playoffs. Whether it was competitive balance or not we would have dropped because of our enrollment.”
Frye added that he feels the new measure does balance the playing field between private and public schools.
“Being a public school coach I do see the point to it,” Frye said. “I might feel different if I were in a different situation but I do feel it is a step in the right direction. We will just have to see how effective it is.”
If the Roughriders make the playoffs, they will be facing some new schools but as Frye points out some of the schools they have faced in the past have also dropped to Division IV.
Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ken Schriner echoes many of Frye’s sentitment and said he thought instituting competitive balance is also a good thing. The Titans will be in Division V this year.
“I think change is necessary,” Schriner said. “I’m not sure it is the perfect solution but the are trying to get it right.”
Schriner said he has previously worked in Cleveland and saw first hand how the previous system worked and how public and private schools operate where it is more evident the domination of private schools in the big city.
Pointing out that Ottawa-Glandorf is the smallest school in the WBL, the move makes sense and Frye and Olwin said, teams still have to get the job done during the regular season.
“No doubt you still have to win games and this is what it is all about,” Schriner said.
Of course the good news for Ottawa-Glandorf is that they will not have to face Bishop Hartley who has eliminated the Titans from the playoffs the past two seasons.