Scott Novak: More issues than answers right nowPublished 1:26pm Monday, July 8, 2013
Just when it looked like things were about to settle down momentarily in the revolving door known as conference realignment, things have begun to spin out of control again.
The Wolverine Conference had taken Edwardsburg, Berrien Springs and Coloma from the Lakeland Conference leaving Cassopolis, Brandywine, Bridgman and Buchanan to fend for themselves.
Rumors swirled throughout the remainder of 2012 that the remaining Lakeland schools were in the process of forming a new league with some of the members of the Red Arrow and St. Joe Valley conferences.
While those rumors were dismissed for nearly all of 2012, in early 2013, it became clear that a new league was forming.
In the meantime, Comstock was wooed away from the Wolverine Conference by the Kalamazoo Valley Association, leaving a hole in the newly realigned Wolverine.
Once that happened, the Berrien-Cass-St. Joe (BCS) conference finalized its creation with all the school districts approving the formation.
Late in the 2012-13 school year, the Wolverine Conference decided to add just one school instead of increasing to 16.
The league had already sent out letters asking about interest in joining the league. Rumors swirled around who and how many letters had been sent out, but it became clear that several members of the Big 16 (Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference) were among those who had expressed interested in joining the Wolverine Conference.
But once it was decided that the Wolverine would only replace Comstock, things took another turn.
The members of the Big 16 that were looking to get out and perhaps join the Wolverine were Sturgis, Marshall, Coldwater and Battle Creek Harper Creek. Battle Creek Pennfield was another potential candidate.
Early in June, four of those schools — Marshall, Coldwater, Harper Creek and Pennfield, which is in the KVA — have decided to break off and form a new league with several Jackson area schools.
So where does that leave the Wolverine and Big 16?
Sturgis is still a player in the Wolverine Conference game. They would slide right into the slot that was left by the departure of Comstock.
The Big 16 would have 12 schools remaining, so it would not need to immediately begin looking for more schools to replace those they will be losing.
So why all the movement?
There are two points that come up over and over again when we talk about realignment. The first being travel and the second being competitiveness.
But the real truth behind it all is the fact that football is driving these changes and will continue to drive realignment until the state association and the MHSAA figure out a way to get everyone into the playoffs just like every other sport.
I have heard all the arguments and listened to all the excuses as to why it cannot happen. But something needs to get done because in these economic times when school districts are struggling just to remain open, they do not need to be worrying about switching conferences.
Hopefully we will know more by the end of the summer even though most school employees are on break.
But until then, we can only wait and wonder what will happen next.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org