Commentary: Time to adjust Corky Kell Classic schedule
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
August 24, 2014 11:33 PM | 3044 views | 5 5 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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High school football games should not finish at 1:40 a.m.

Yet, McEachern and North Gwinnett were doing just that as the final moments of the five-game Saturday schedule of the Corky Kell Classic came to a close.

The Indians and the Bulldogs put on a great show. The 52-49 final was a game that that will go down as one of the best the Classic has ever had.

But is the game really that good when teenagers — whether they are players, cheerleaders, band members or fans — are getting home at 2:30 or 3 a.m.? Or later, if they live in Gwinnett County? The same commute would have been necessary for the McEachern fans, too, if the game had been played at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, like it has been in most of the previous 23 years of the Classic.

I know I’m not comfortable in downtown Atlanta, or anywhere for that matter at 3 a.m.; I’d be willing to bet most parents wouldn’t be if their kids were, either.

But Saturday’s schedule was doomed before it started.

When Valdosta and Brookwood started the third game, originally set for 2:45 p.m., the Classic was already running more than 30 minutes behind schedule.

By the time McEachern finally took the field – for a game that was supposed to start at 8:45 p.m. — it was a 10 p.m. kickoff.

Yes, Game 4 — Norcross and Tucker — went to overtime and delayed things even further, but that in itself shows the flaw in the way the event was scheduled.

Every year, the Classic schedule has games begin in 3-hour increments, with one exception. The first game is given only 2:45 to be completed.

In today’s high school football landscape where more teams are installing a pass-happy spread offense, the standard Friday night contest lasts a minimum of 3 hours. Add in television with all its TV timeouts and the games move toward 3:15.

Now consider a game like McEachern and North Gwinnett, which both operate from the spread, and the game gets a lot closer to four hours than three. Saturday night/Sunday morning was a perfect example.

The teams combined to run 145 plays and throw 76 passes.

McEachern athletic director Jimmy Dorsey, who was the Indians football coach for 24 years from 1984-2007, said he can remember full seasons when his team didn’t throw 76 passes — including practice.

But Saturday night the Bulldogs’ John Urzua threw for 490 yards and seven touchdowns, and the Indians’ Bailey Hockman threw for 302 yards and four scores. Overall, the teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Total game time was 3:40.

So, how can the Classic be fixed? It’s really not that hard.

First, eliminate one of the Saturday games. This is the one drawback. Dorsey said it would be a shame if a pair of schools were not able to share in the excitement of the event. That’s true, and I realize the Classic is designed to bring the best high school teams across the state to showcase their talents, but six games over two days should still be plenty.

Second, keep the 9 a.m. kickoff. A couple years ago when the Classic had only four games on Saturday, the first game kicked off at 11:45 a.m. and the last was still finishing after midnight. The 9 a.m. kickoff would eliminate this.

Third, offer a realistic time frame to complete each game. If the first game starts at 9 a.m., start Game 2 at 12:30 p.m. Game 3 could start at 4 p.m. and Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. This would allow more wiggle room in case of injuries, overtimes or weather delays (if the games are outside the Dome), and it would allow everyone affiliated with the final game to get home at a reasonable hour.

And with the earlier start, it would allow more kids who are watching on TV to see the final game. It is hard to imagine McEachern’s youth and middle school players, who are likely to grow up and be part of the roster in the future, staying up long enough to watch any part of a game with a 10 p.m. kickoff.

As much sense as these solutions might make, they are unlikely to happen. It certainly wouldn’t happen next year as teams that participate in the Classic generally sign two-year contracts. But the likely biggest obstacle is TV. Advertisers need to make their money and the only way to do that is to have their product in front of eyeballs enough to justify putting their commercials in the broadcast.

Hopefully, I’m wrong about that. And hopefully everyone involved with the Classic realizes high school football games have no business ending at 1:40 a.m.

Comments
(5)
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High School Fan
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August 25, 2014
John,

The GHSA has a curfew rule that says games are to be completed by 11:30 PM. The exception to this are overtime games.
Greedy Gusses
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August 25, 2014
You are so right John. I feel that anytime IJ Rosenberg, Jimmy Dorsey and Dave Hunter have a meeting it is to figure out another way to milk a dollar out of High School Football.

Why does GHSA allow this fiasco to happen?
LongLivetheClassic
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August 26, 2014
Good grief, you sound like a real gem. Precisely what redeeming qualities do you bring to the table? Exactly what positive things do you do each day or month or year to make things better for high school student athletes? Yeh...that's what I thought.

You mean to tell me you're going to criticize 3 of the hardest working men in the state of Georgia? Do you really think they're doing it for MONEY?! Grab a clue.

For the first time since 1997, there was a RARE CONFLICT with the Georgia Dome and the Corky Kell Classic. Obviously the Falcons take precedence. Instead of cancelling the event, these men formed a team of the hardest workers to make this event special at an alternate venue.

They made it a 2-day event and made it possible for 14 teams/schools to participate. They developed travel and parking plans and secured more sponsors and a TV contract with Fox Sportsouth. Absolutely blows my mind that a mental midget like 'Greedy Gusses' could bash their efforts.

NG band parent has a valid gripe and it's too bad there wasn't better food selections for the band kids as they had put in a long day, as well. Especially when it was clear the day was going longer.

Joe Willy...I loved your comment the best. Some people will constantly look for negativity in situations. They just can't help themselves. Sadly, it appears that John B is one of them and can't understand that this event is an exception to the normal 7:30-10:00 Friday night game.
NG Band Parent
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August 25, 2014
Amen!

The one problem not mentioned in this article with having the games run so long is that the concession stands stopped cooking food around midnight. The band kids did not get a break to eat supper until the 3rd quarter, which meant that all they could buy was chips and candy. I understand that the concessionaires need to sleep, too, but I totally agree with the article's suggestions.
Joe Willy
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August 25, 2014
John, you make so much sense. I would rather have my kids roaming the streets of Atlanta or any suburb on a Saturday night instead of being at a school event supervised by school officials and plenty of security. Let me guess. You don't have any kids!
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