The realignment of high school football conferences across the state took another step forward last week.
The WIAA Board of Control met Friday and voted in support of its first consideration of the plan set forth by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association last July.
Or at least a revamped version of it.
“This was an enormous undertaking and groundbreaking for the WIAA,” WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said in a release. “It may pioneer the future for more WIAA sports going forward.
“We have witnessed the good-faith effort and the openness to alternative ideas, the changes, the ‘big-picture’ thinking, and the final decisions.”
If the board approves the plan in its final consideration April 16, a slew of area rivalries built over the past few decades face a potential death in 2020, when the realignment plan goes into effect.
More of them than we originally thought.
Quite frankly, that stinks.
But as I stated when the first plan came out, despite the overhaul, the WFCA did a good job.
It worked out a plan that meets the objectives. One of the main ideas was to create conferences that had the same number of teams so that playoff qualification was more equal across the board.
Under the plan, all leagues are now made up of seven or eight teams.
The WFCA said in its original release in July, “It has been our objective from the start to keep as many conferences together as possible while reaching the stated goals of the proposal.” It touted that only 72 teams of 390 (18 percent) were moved to a different conference.
Unfortunately for us at the local level, that number is much higher. Of the 14 teams in The Gazette’s main coverage area, eight (57 percent) would move to new leagues.
Janesville’s Parker and Craig are indeed headed to the Badger Conference, but not in the originally planned format. Clinton, Brodhead/Juda and Orfordville Parkview are off in their own new conferences with no other teams in our area.
Rivalries between Janesville and Beloit or Evansville and Brodhead will only continue if the teams can work out a plan to play nonconference games
Sometimes change is good.
Like the WIAA membership, I’m open to ideas, changes and big-picture thinking.
But this is all certainly going to feel a little strange for a while.
Here’s a breakdown of how things shake out with the final conference realignment plan:
Craig, Parker land in Badger Large
We knew Craig and Parker were headed to the Badger, but the original plan had the Cougars and Vikings playing teams rather close to home in the Badger South.
The original plan left open a chance for certain leagues—including the Badger—to decide a different way to split in half. And we started hearing rumblings pretty quickly that it would go to Large and Small divisions.
Sure enough, Craig and Parker will play in the Badger Large, and they’ll be the schools with the largest enrollment.
Joining them are Milton, Watertown, Oregon, Waunakee, Beaver Dam and DeForest.
Fort Atkinson and Stoughton are among the teams in the Badger Small.
Clinton, Brodhead/Juda out on their own
The original WFCA plan had current Rock Valley rivals Big Foot, Turner, Brodhead/Juda and Clinton as half the makeup of the Capitol 2 Conference.
The new plan is much different.
The Capitol 2 now includes Big Foot and Turner with Lodi, Lake Mills, Watertown Luther Prep, Columbus, Lakeside Lutheran an Horicon/Hustisford.
Brodhead/Juda is off on its own in the Southwest Conference with River Valley, Plattevile, Dodgeville, Richland Center, Prairie du Chien and New Glarus/Monticello.
Clinton will head to the Capitol Small as the largest-enrollment program along with Marshall, Palmyra-Eagle, Cambridge, Waterloo, Dodgeland, Markesan and Pardeeville.
Rock Valley revamp unchanged
The original plan for the revamped Rock Valley Conference remained the same under the proposal voted on Friday.
Current members Evansville (no longer in a co-op with Albany), Whitewater, Edgerton, Jefferson, McFarland and East Troy welcome newcomers Monroe and Madison Edgewood.
Parkview adds Albany
Parkview, as originally planned, will be in the SWAL with Belleville, Lancaster, Fennimore, Cuba City, Darlington and Mineral Point.
Parkview athletic director Shane Suehring confirmed Sunday the program will co-op with Albany beginning this fall.
No change in Southern Lakes
The current eight-team membership within the Southern Lakes Conference will go completely unchanged.