Football gets mercy rule

Board of Control approves other changes

By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

The return of the blind draw in determining the brackets for the girls and boys state basketball tournaments was one of several rule changes approved by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Board of Control at its spring
meetings in Pigeon Forge over the weekend.

The board also voted to add a mercy rule for basketball and football and to increase the number of A/AA schools taking part in the state wrestling duels from four teams to eight.

Maryville, unranked at the end of the regular season, knocked off No. 4 Bradley Central, No. 6 Whites Creek and No. 3 Clarksville en route to the school’s first state basketball championship in March. The brackets for the state tournament were predetermined matchups of sectional champions.

A return to the blind draw, where the coach and an administrator from a qualifying school would meet the Monday prior to the state tournament and, essentially, select names from a hat, is a welcome return, Rebel coach Mark Eldridge said.
"In ’98 when they had the blind draw, that was my first time going to state," he said. "That was a great day. It was like watching the NCAA tournament draw. All the coaches would be there. You didn’t know who you were going to play.

Anybody could wind up playing anybody.

"I thought the blind draw was a really good thing. It’s a great day of high school basketball. It’s a lasting memory in the career of a high school coach."

Also new for football and basketball is a rule mandating a running clock to curtail blowouts. In football, the clock will be run continuously once a team attains a 35-point advantage in the second half, stopping only for change of quarter, timeouts, injuries, scores and safety purposes.

Previously, a gentlemen’s agreement between coaches had accomplished much the same thing, but there have been exceptions, said Alcoa coach Gary Rankin, recently selected National High School Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

"I think it (the rule change) is a good thing," Rankin said. "I’ve enforced that myself as much as I can through the years. The opposing coach has to agree with it. To my dismay, I’ve had coaches not agree to it. There’s no reason to beat somebody bad, bad."

Under the direction of John Reed, Rankin’s predecessor at Alcoa, the Tornadoes trounced Gatlinburg-Pittman, 91-7, in an opening round playoff game two years ago. The contest was played with a running clock throughout the second half, with no Tornado starter finishing the second quarter or seeing action in the closing two periods.

Rankin, whose Tornadoes won the school’s third consecutive Class 2A state crown in December, is also in agreement with a wrinkle in the rule, allowing the clock to revert to conventional timing should a team pull within the 35-point margin.
"I’m glad they did it," Rankin said. "It’s a good rule."

In basketball, the continuous clock rule is activated when a team attains a 35-point advantage in the fourth quarter, stopping only for shooting fouls, timeouts, injuries and the administration of technical fouls.

TSSAA rule changes
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Board of Control approved several rule changes at its spring meetings in Pigeon Forge over the weekend, among them a mercy rule for football and basketball. Other changes approved include:

  • Volleyball — Voted to allow state office to make the draw for the Regional and State Volleyball Tournament.
  • Soccer — Voted to require players and coaches ejected in soccer to sit out the next two contests. Voted that contests cannot be added to schedules for the purpose of avoiding players/coach sitting out games for ejections.
  • Basketball — Voted to change the format for determining the brackets for the state basketball tournaments. On the Sunday following the girls' sectional games, the head coach and an administrator from each school that has qualified for the state tournament will be required to attend the draw. The boy’s state basketball tournament brackets will be determined in the same manner on a date prior to their tournament. This is the same format that was used prior to the current format in place at the present time.

In basketball, there is a mandated continuous clock when one team gets a 35-point advantage over it’s opponent in the fourth quarter. The clock would only stop for shooting fouls, timeouts, injuries, and the administration of technical fouls. The clock will continue to run for the remainder of the game, regardless if the point differential gets closer than 35-points.

  • Football — In football, there is a mandated continuous clock when one team gets a 35-point advantage over it’s opponent in the second half. The clock would only stop at the end of the quarter, for timeouts, injuries, scores, and safety purposes. If the margin falls below 35-points, regular timing procedures will take effect.
  • Wrestling — The Division II Dual Meet State Tournament will be held at Father Ryan High School. The Class AAA and Class A/AA Dual Meet State Tournaments will be held at Clarksville High School. Class AAA will continue to bring eight teams to the Dual Meet. Class A/AA will increase the number of teams at the State Dual Meet from four to eight.

© 2007 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Features