It's tough to steal the excitement of a day as anxiously anticipated as the release of the state football playoff brackets. But that's just what happened Saturday when TSSAA officials reached into their bag and handed out far more tricks than treats.
The unveiling of the postseason matchups would have been better suited for April Fool's Day.
Shortly after the matchups were announced, the TSSAA took the brackets off its Web site, announcing there were several mistakes made. Hours later, as coaches around the state fumed and many fans vented online over the perceived incompetence, the corrected brackets were posted.
By then McMinn Central coach Josh Goodin was told the Chargers' originally announced playoff opponent had been switched. The original brackets had McMinn Central traveling to Austin-East. But after swapping video with A-E coaches, and while beginning to plan for the Roadrunners, Goodin was told his team instead would visit Christian Academy of Knoxville.
"I sat on pins and needles for about five hours just waiting and not knowing where we were going," Goodin said.
With all the confusion surrounding the playoff scenarios in the weeks leading up to Saturday, the number of people who were surprised it turned into a fiasco likely could fit in the front seat of a Yugo.
TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress posted an apology on the Web site and admitted officials were frustrated enough over the errors that the playoff system will be discussed at the next Board of Control meeting.
"The system did not fail. We did," Childress wrote.
Expect changes to follow that meeting.
But what needs to happen won't. What TSSAA officials should do is stop the insanity of crowning eight state champions in a state that can't support that many playoff brackets. There are 23 teams with losing records in the playoffs, including White County, which hadn't won a game all season until last Friday but at 1-9 is in the 5A bracket.
There simply aren't enough teams in the state to fill six playoff brackets, and not have teams with losing records. Classes 1A and 2A don't have even have enough teams to fill out a 32-team bracket, instead giving 16 teams first-round byes.
If you don't have enough teams to fill out six brackets, then scale it down. At least it would cut down on the potential for another bracket blunder.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...