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Tying up a few odds and ends before fall sports get in full gear

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

I like typing my RR&R column and from some of the comments of you readers, you like reading them, too. That’s nice to hear, although I know not everyone agrees with everything I’ve written. Once I get an idea for a column, it doesn’t take long to pound it out on the keyboard.

With fall high school sports getting in full gear this weekend, we will pounce heavily on covering them given our budget and space limitations. I am hoping that coaches, athletic directors, or someone else will send us results of athletic contests that we are not able to cover in person and that our sports pages truly will be all-local.

Having stated that, if we get a lot of local content for the sports pages, that will take away space that could be devoted to a RR&R column. That’s OK. I still have opinions on some matters, and will save them for when space is available.

This column is written to convey a few things on my mind that I might not be able to write for awhile going forward, or to tie up a few odds and ends, so to speak.

I still think high school football sectionals in Indiana should be seeded. Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star wrote a piece about seeding the entire tournament for  Class 6A and 5A teams. Those tournaments have far fewer teams than do the tournaments for Classes A-4A.

The key drawback is travel time, as it could be a team from Lake County plays one from Evansville or the New Albany area in the first round. That is too far, thus the problem with seeding a whole tournament.

Seeding only sectionals is different. The teams are a bit closer together, although some sectionals could have teams traveling about 100 miles one-way to play a sectional game. But that happens now anyway.

It almost makes me barf (and I haven’t done that since Feb. 7, 1960 in my sleep) when I see two 9-0 teams or a 9-0 vs. 8-1 team matched up in the opening round and then have two 0-9 or 1-8 teams facing each other in the first round in the same sectional.

Make the regular season worth something besides playing for a conference championship. Set it up so that the two best teams in a sectional (by some system) are projected to meet in the sectional championship game.

Upsets happen, but don’t eliminate very good teams early in the tournament solely because a blind draw will force two of them to face each other and one will lose. Seeding an entire tournament with a field of 64 teams would be a nightmare, but it’s much easier to do it for a field of eight teams in a sectional.

I’d like to see something done that will avoid penalizing track & field and cross country athletes based upon what sectional, regional or semi-states they are in. You see this every year, and it’s also done to a certain extent in swimming.

A person hurls the discus 120 feet. He or she doesn’t advance to the next level because three other athletes in the same sectional, regional or semi-state threw it further, yet someone in another tournament hurled the discus 114 feet and advances.

Here’s what I’d like to see: some sort of standard is set in order to move to the next level. Everyone meeting that standard advances. If excess spots remain at the next level, fill them from among the best performances from all tournaments around the state that didn’t quite meet the standard.

Say you’re competing at Connersville. Not only are you competing with other athletes at Connersville, but you are competing with athletes at the Crawfordsville, Jeffersonville, Bellmont, etc. tournaments as well. If you can meet the standard, no problem. If you can’t, you’re surely going to try to do as well as you can to get one of the other spots to fill the field at the next level.

Any individual-performance sport involving a stop watch or tape measure should do this. Why be penalized if you have the misfortune of being assigned to the toughest tournament when several great athletes can’t advance due to a limit of only the top three or so advancing?

Get rid of the East/West Divisions in Big Ten football. I’ve harped on this for two years. As an IU fan, I want to see the Hoosiers play Minnesota, Northwestern, or Nebraska more frequently, not Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State year after year after year.

As to Coach Urban Mayer at Ohio State. If he knew an assistant coach was abusing his wife three years ago and did nothing about it then and kept it quiet, he should go. I think the bad thing about this situation is that Mayer lied about it to the press. That assistant coach was fired this year, three years after the fact.

There’s no doubt that Urban Mayer is a very good college football coach. But does Ohio State value winning football games more than integrity? We shall see.

The Chicago Cubs have the best record in the National League at this time, but really don’t impress me as serious contenders for a World Series championship. It’s different than it was two years ago when there seemed to be a sense of urgency to get it done, and the Cubs did. I hope I’m wrong.

We need more entrants in the weekly Riz’s Pigskin Picks Contest which starts up again on Monday.

Now that I have these things off my chest, on to fall sports!

David Risley is sports editor at The Courier-Times.