Babblin' Brooks - Learning the system

Posted in: Sports
By Todd Brooks
Dec 13, 2012 - 9:01:14 AM

I am slowly getting the hang of how the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association (OSSAA) works. It is still somewhat confusing to me even after covering sports part-time for three years and now in my first year of full-time work in Oklahoma newspapers.
It is different from Arkansas, the state where I spent most of my career in journalism.
One of the main things is I have to remember Oklahoma has districts and Arkansas has conferences. They mean the same thing, but the two states just use different words. Some times I still slip up and call the Oklahoma districts conferences.
Another area proving troublesome to me is football is the only sport playing a district schedule during the regular season. The rest of the sports are not assigned districts until after the regular season.
I have received some funny looks from non-football coaches when I have asked them who was going to be their main competition in district play for the season because I forgot there is no such a thing.
I also never saw eight-man football before moving to Oklahoma, so trying to do stats on an 80-yard field took some time.
The fact some school play in different classifications for each sport complicates things. For example, Central High plays in Class B in football, but Class 2A in basketball.
Of course, things are more complicated in Arkansas now I left. There were six classifications when I left (five when I started) and now there are seven. Class 7A is composed of the 16 largest schools in the state, most of which reside in Central and Northwest Arkansas. There are two large schools east of Little Rock, so it would be very difficult for them to play in the same conference because of travel. What they do then is play in 6A during the regular season and then play in the 7A playoffs. Regardless of records, every time in 7A makes the playoffs. Complicated to say the least.
There has been some discussion recently of Oklahoma having a 7A, but it was put off until a later date so it could be studied further. The proposal had been hastily put together and not all 6A coaches had a chance to look at it.
I am not sure if it would be good or bad, but I can not think of any way it would impact any Marlow area schools since Marlow in Class 3A is the biggest.
The OSSAA found itself in a little bit of hot water, but the OSSAA is defending itself from an attack from House of Representative member Rep. Richard Morrisette from District 92 in southern Oklahoma City.
Morrisette, a Democrat, along with newly-elected member Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville) released a statement last Thursday accusing the OSSAA of refusing to release financial reports and to explain their reluctance to assist two school wishing to “de-link” from the program.
According to the news release, at the OSSAA meeting held Dec. 5, a request was made by Rep. Cleveland for disclosure of financial reports and the request was denied as was the request from U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill to depart the organization.
Later in the day, the OSSAA shoots out its own press release.
“OSSAA has not received, and therefore has not refused, any request for any financial records from these state legislators,” the press release states. “Yesterday morning, during th ecourse of the scheduled public meeting of OSSAA’s Board of Directors, a man asked an OSSAA staff member for a copy of the minutes of the proceeding. As the meeting was still on-going, no minutes of the meeting had yet been prepared. The man was told minutes were not yet available.”
Seems to me if some state legislatures are just trying to get some free publicity. They got it if it was the intent.
Grant and Capitol Hill want to compete independently in football only. It would be a logistical nightmare according to the OSSAA. If a school goes independent, it needs to go independent in all sports. They cannot pick and choose what sports they want to be independent in.  
Speaking of football, any questions about the toughness of Marlow’s schedule were answered the past two weeks. Two weeks ago in the Class 3A semifinals, district rivals Jones and Blanchard met in one and Kingfisher and Seminole met in the other. That would mean two teams from Class 3A-1 in the semifinals, another Outlaw regular season opponent, plus Marlow’s first round state playoff opponent.
Blanchard ended up winning the whole thing this past weekend, which is somewhat surprising to me since of the big three in the district (Jones, Blanchard, and Tuttle) I was least impressed with Blanchard.
Regardless, it does make the district look good, and now Marlow knows what to aspire to in order to have a chance to be the best of the best.