The Rock Valley Conference continues to search for answers when it comes to football scheduling.
For the fourth straight year, the league will take a different approach when it comes to crossover games between teams in the North and South divisions.
For now, Weeks 8 and 9 on every team’s schedule are listed as “to be determined.” After Week 7, the slate will be set.
In Week 8, the top team in the North standings will host the first-place team in the South, with the second-place North team hosting the second-place South, and so on. Those games will count toward each team’s official conference record.
In Week 9, the first-place South team will host the second-place North team, the second-place South squad will host the top North team. Likewise, the third- and fourth-place teams and fifth- and sixth-place teams will match up. These games will not count toward conference records.
“We had seven or different combinations of things we could have done,” RVC commissioner Mike Willeman said. “This was kind of the least disagreeable.”
For years, the North and South teams simply played crossover games in Weeks 3 and 4, with opponents and game sites rotating annually.
But with the North schools comprised of what have typically been the six schools with the highest enrollments in the league, they have typically dominated crossover games. Willeman told The Gazette in 2013 that North schools won approximately 80 percent of crossover games.
In hopes of leveling the playing field, the league decided in 2013 that crossover games would count for North teams only. The WIAA did not approve that measure but granted the RVC a one-year waiver.
In 2014, crossover games were again played in Weeks 3 and 4, but Week 3 games did not count toward the conference standings. Week 4 games counted.
“This new way gives you six conference games, and in terms of qualifying for the playoffs, 3-3 is now just like going 3-2 in conference play,” Walworth Big Foot athletic director Tim Collins said. “So this plan lets the North get a sixth game in (to improve playoff chances), and in the South, the extra game won’t hurt you.”
The new format could, however, have an adverse effect on conference champions.
“Worst-case scenario is that the No. 1 seed in the South loses to the No. 1 seed in the North,” Edgerton High coach Mike Gregory said. “And then (if the No. 2 team in the South beats the No. 2 North team) it has to share a title even though they beat a team head-to-head.”
The scheduling quirk stems from a bigger discussion about the future of the RVC.
The league’s smaller schools—especially Orfordville Parkview and Palmyra-Eagle—have asked the WIAA to look at realignment. They would like to leave a conference that includes schools double—and in the case of McFarland, nearly triple—their enrollment size.
To this point, the WIAA has put that topic on the back burner.
“Nobody likes the crossovers, but until we get realignment, it’s the best option we have,” Gregory said. “Changing every year is creating a bigger mess.”