A saying used around Geneseo High School athletics in recent years has been, control the controllables. The new IHSA district football proposal will make it hard.
A saying used around Geneseo High School athletics in recent years has been, control the controllables.
Tying to focus energy on what they can control has been a big factor in Geneseo’s success on the field, but the addition of the new Illinois High School Association football districts policy has left Geneseo Athletic Director Joe Nichols trying to figure out what the future holds.
The IHSA changed the football landscape passing a proposal to eliminate conferences and make the IHSA responsible for putting eight or nine teams in eight geographic regions through the eight classes.
However, Nichols believes the district system will come with unintended consequences when it goesinto effect during the 2021 football season.
“The numbers just don’t work,” Nichols said. “If there’s only 510 teams or 530 teams like this past year, you are going to have some odd-numbered districts. It’s impossible to have that perfect eight.”
Similar proposals had been voted down in 2009 and 2014, but the proposal passed with a narrow margin of 324-307 with 69 schools abstaining from the vote released on Dec. 18.
“It is a historic change,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a press release. “The narrow gap in the voting indicates that there are pros and cons that impact our diverse football-playing membership in a multitude of ways.
“We hope that it will effectively address conference realignment and scheduling concerns while helping create long-term sustainability and growth for high school football in the state.”
With the break up of the Northern Illinois Big 12, Geneseo believed they had their conference problem solved joining the Western Big 6 starting in the 2019-2020 season.
Nichols says the district situation will add more hurdles to an already tricky financial situation.
“The plan is to track every gate, every concession stand revenue, every 50-50 revenue and every kind of revenue we can get from a game,” Nichols said. “Then we are going to see how many total miles we travel during those two years. When districts come in, we are going to compare them.”
For now, Geneseo plans on just getting back to controlling what they can control with an actual timeline on the districts and schedules release dates being promised by the 2019-2020 school year.
“We talk to our kids all the time about mental toughness,” Nichols said. “A way we define mental toughness is being comfortable situations. We pride ourselves in taking on whatever the intangible outside things that affect the game shouldn’t affect us and our attitude and effort.”