Record-Courier staff report
COLUMBUS -- For years, high school football games in Ohio could be shortened by mutual agreement of both head coaches. That will change this fall with the adoption of a football point-differential rule as part of the 2014-15 sport regulations approved by the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors last week at its May board meeting.
The point-differential regulation, which is already used in many states, is permitted by state adoption according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The proposal was recommended to the board by the OHSAA staff after more than a year of consultation with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. Unlike changes to the bylaws and constitution, which require a vote of the membership, changes to sport-specific regulations and the general sports regulations need only approval from the board of directors.
"First and foremost, this was proposed out of concern for player safety," Beau Rugg, the OHSAA's assistant commissioner in charge of football, wrestling and all officiating, said. "Lopsided games aren't good for anybody. The risk of injury goes up and it can be a tense situation for coaches and players. The length of games is also a topic of conversation at the national level. This is just the right thing to do."
The football-point differential regulation reads as follows: "After the first half, any time the score differential reaches 30 points or more for 11- man football, the following changes, and only these changes, will be made regarding rules determining when the clock will be stopped."
The clock will be stopped when:
— An official's timeout is called either for an injured player or following a change of team possession
— A charged timeout is called
— At the end of a period
— A score occurs
The clock will start again on the ready-for-play signal for the first play after the above situations.
The clock will continue to run in all other situations.
The use of this rule does not preclude the use of NFHS Rule 3-1-3, which reads: "A period or periods may be shortened in any emergency by agreement of the opposing coaches and referee. By mutual agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee, any remaining periods may be shortened at any time or the game terminated."
After the 30-point difference has been met, if the score drops below 30 points the clock reverts to regular timing.
"This takes the decision-making situation out of it for the coaches," Rugg said. "That is often a tough situation for a coach to be in. Now, they can point to the rule instead of having to make that decision. Like all regulations, we will monitor this to see how it affects games."
Other significant changes to sports regulations for 2014-15 include:
— In baseball and softball, it was noted that individuals may participate in 32 contests, but teams are limited to play a maximum of 27 contests.
Language has also been removed that currently prohibits teams from playing doubleheaders on school days. In addition, use of varsity officials was modified to indicate only Class 1 umpires can be used, and if only one umpire is available, the contest may be played if both coaches mutually agree.
— In bowling, information was added that permits all-Baker games format tournaments as long as a minimum of five teams participate and no fewer than nine Baker games are bowled.
— In tennis, the modifications previously approved by the Board of Directors have been made: 1. Contests are permitted to begin on the Friday prior to the currently scheduled Monday start date (for 2014-15: girls begin Aug. 8 rather than Aug. 11, boys begin on March 27 rather than March 30); 2. The number of matches permitted has been increased to 22 from 20 (and the maximum number of tournaments permitted per season has been increased to four from three); and 3. Coaches have the option of using a third-set tiebreaker to 10 points when the match has been decided and both coaches mutually agree.
— In volleyball, the modification previously approved by the Board of Directors has been made: Varsity tri-matches may be contested in the best 3-out-of-5 format if agreed upon in advance in the game contract(s).
— In wrestling, it was noted that some calendar modifications have been made which were previously discussed with the Board of Directors.