With another highly successful 7 on 7 State Tournament in the books, the 7 on 7 State Board of Directors will meet next week at coaching school to evaluate what happened during the 2014 qualifying campaign and make any necessary adjustments in preparation to improve the game for 2015.
THEOLDCOACH is the one media outlet that attends qualifiers all over the state of Texas so we feel we've got a decent grasp on the state of the summertime game and some things that need to be tweaked to make the game even better moving forward.
The biggest issue we are seeing in the DFW area is the "stacking of pools," for those of you not familiar with the term it basically means the home team rigging the brackets to give themselves an easier path to qualify. In my opinion this keeps the best teams from actually qualifying (you can't tell me DeSoto wasn't a team worthy of qualifying) and it also alienates a large number of schools who don't qualify. How would you feel if you were a middle of the road team and you are constantly getting put in pools with three powerhouses? You probably won't be real interested in entering any more tournaments! This will prevent the growth of the game and probably set things back as tournaments will have a hard time filling up if more and more schools are turned off by the unfairness of the set up. In our view there's two ways to fix this problem, the first would be to have a neutral third party set the pools prior to the tournament and the second would be to simply have a blind draw at tournament registration to ensure fairness. The qualified teams entered into a tournament can be set into pools ahead of time to ensure balanced brackets.
Another issue in the Houston area is tournaments filling up too quickly with the same group of ten to twelve teams playing in five or six tournaments every year. How this happens is anyone's guess, my hypothesis is that teams simply invite the same teams every year to their qualifiers and tournaments are "filled" for the most part the day the qualifier schedule is released in February. This prevents any new schools who want to play to enter more than maybe one tournament (if they are lucky). A fix for this would be limiting the number of qualifiers a team can enter, an exception to this rule can be made if a team needs teams etc. But is it really fair for a team (especially a qualified team) to play in five tournaments and can the game grow into new schools if teams can't enter tournaments?
Location of qualifiers is another key, at the Division I level the distribution of qualifiers is out of whack. San Antonio has just one qualifier, the Coastal Bend has one qualifier and the Valley has one qualifier. The state's third largest market has just one qualifying tournament, hard to believe without a doubt. This is the quickest place the game can grow if another tournament is added to this area, my proposal is to take Lufkin's tournament and move it to San Antonio. As much as Lufkin tries their tournament can't fill up, does East Texas need two qualifiers? I'd also like to see one of the tournaments from Houston moved down to the Rio Grande Valley where 7 on 7 wildly popular. West Texas does not need two qualifiers, Abilene and Lubbock can't fill their tournaments, there's simply not enough large schools out West to fill a pair of tournaments. I propose El Paso get a second tournament, the game is popular in the Sun City and the growth of new schools in the city should necessitate the need for a second tournament.
The final change we'd make is a rule change, we think its time a modification to the four second rule be made. Currently if there's a four second call and the QB throws an INT, the offense is rewarded for the four second call by bringing the ball back to the LOS and simply losing a down. In my opinon, if a QB makes a poor decision and decides to throw a ball into coverage etc. and its intercepted the interception should stand, even if it's a four second call. This will help the QB on Friday night by learning to "eat" the ball and not making bad decisions.
The tournament moving back to College Station in 2014 was a resounding success, the city of College Station did a magnificent job remodeling Veterans Park and it's a facility that is capable of hosting the event. The staff at the BCS Convention and Visitors Bureau does a great job helping facilitate the event and making the media and workers feel welcome, kudos to all involved with the event this weekend.
Participation in qualifiers statewide seems to be up and that's a credit to the 7 on 7 Board of Directors, to keep the game growing and strong status quo can't be the norm or enough people will become disillusioned with the process they simply stop participating and that would be a shame because we are very lucky to have such an organized group regulating 7 on 7 and that kids play with their high school teammates and not on select teams.