Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Hudson Petty, left, holds the championship trophy as Josh Wingo, right, prepares to kiss it after the Whitwell Tigers beat Connersville 7-6 to win the TSSAA Class 1A football state title in December 2018 at Tennessee Tech.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared in the Times Free Press on Sept. 16, 2021.

For more BlueCross Bowl coverage from the Times Free Press, read more here.



A timeline of the TSSAA dividing member schools, first into classifications based on enrollment and later separating public and private schools.

1968: TSSAA Board of Control votes 188-20 to implement a three-classification playoff system for football beginning in 1969 based on each school's enrollment.

1992: Board of Control votes to increase the number of classifications in football from three to five beginning in 1993. The number of teams qualifying for the playoffs also rises from 96 to 120.

1995: The outcry for a split of public and private schools into separate division becomes deafening after private schools win three of the five football state championship games, all by double figures.

1996: The TSSAA Legislative Council votes overwhelmingly to separate schools into Division I (public schools and private schools that elect not to give financial aid) and Division II (any school that offers financial aid to student-athletes). Competition in the separate divisions will begin with the 1997 season.

2004: By a 6-3 vote, the Board of Control approves a 1.8 multiplier for any private school that chooses not to offer financial aid and remain in D-I to compete against public schools. It is the highest such multiplier in the nation.

2016: The Board of Control votes to keep six public school classifications and add one more in D-II, bringing the total number of classes in the state to nine. That ranks Tennessee behind only Texas (10) in number of football state championships awarded.

2018: A total public-private split is unanimously approved by the TSSAA's Legislative Council, eliminating the option for private schools to continue competing in the public school division and moving all into D-II.

March 16, 2021: After much debate during a marathon meeting, the Board of Control votes 11-1 in favor of granting Chattanooga the hosting rights for the 2021 and 2022 BlueCross Bowls over Cookeville, which had hosted for the past 12 years.

— Compiled by Stephen Hargis. Contact him at or 423-757-6293 and follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.