Decision on Spring Football coming Thursday; OHSAA Board to act


Will Ohio join Texas, Florida, Georgia, California and other states in approving Spring Football?

How good is football in Ohio? The top five states for NCAA Division I
recruits in 2010 were Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and Ohio. How
good could football in Ohio be?
Of those five states, Ohio is the only
one without spring football. For now.

How good is football in Ohio? The top five states for NCAA Division I recruits in 2010 were Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and Ohio. How good could football in Ohio be? Of those five states, Ohio is the only one without spring football. For now.

This Thursday the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors will take action on a proposal from the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association that recommends football programs in Ohio be given “10 hours during the last two weeks in May” to conduct “non-mandatory individual skill development workouts” for basically everyone but linemen.

It’s a start. And it’s a must. And it’s the first hint of Spring Football that we’ve tasted in this state.

Several other states (all below the Mason-Dixon Line) already have spring football and are stuffing themselves FAT full of talent.

Believe it. Wonder why the SEC seems better than everyone? This is a start.

And it’s time Ohio took a place at the table.

In its quest to be a trendsetter, this is one area the Buckeye State can stake a flag for the North.

Spring Football…Here’s What We Know:

The Actual OHSFCA PROPOSAL (January 13, 2011)

1. The OHSFCA has major concerns regarding AAU Flag Football programs and their influence on Ohio high school football players and OHSAA sponsored school football programs. This concern also extends to the privatizing of individual workouts among players by outside sources
2. Ohio high school football players need more influence and contact with their high school football coaches.
3. There is a lack of opportunity for skill development of Ohio high school football players by Ohio High School football coaches.
4. There is a lack of opportunity for Ohio high school football players to display skills to college coaches during the critical May recruiting period.

1. The OHSAA should adopt a resolution permitting Ohio high school football coaches to conduct non-mandatory individual skill development workouts with players during the last two (2) weeks in May. Helmets may be worn during these workouts. The time frame for these workouts is a maximum of ten (10) hours during the last two (2) weeks in May never to exceed two (2) hours per workout.
2. Athletes currently participating in an OHSAA spring sport would be required to complete their season before participating in these workouts.

1. Players need more connection and influence in their lives from professionally trained coaches and educators. There is an increase in private individuals being paid by families to work on the skill development of their children in the off-season. Currently Ohio high school football coaches are not permitted to offer skill development during any part of the off-season. (The AAU football component is also on the horizon.)
2. The spring skill development program would give college coaches the opportunity to evaluate Ohio high school football players during their spring recruiting period. At this time, many neighboring states offer this opportunity and Ohio athletes are at a competitive disadvantage.
3. Ohio high school football players are forced to attend early summer camps at various universities in order for college coaches’ to evaluate their skills. This comes with a financial price tag. The proposal for a spring skill period would serve to lessen this requirement on our Ohio high school football players and their families.

The End.

All of that is plausible and defendable. And there is more. Here are some other aspects…


– It’s warm in the south in the Spring, but in Ohio is hit or miss. It rains an awful lot in Ohio in April, which leads to…

– Do enough school’s have access to indoor facilities should weather be deplorable? Are some schools at an advantage? Is there enough gym space? Is this even a legit concern?

– Athletes and their loyalties are already being stretched when it comes to their commitment to the football program. With offseason weight training, football is already threatening to become a 12-month-a-year sport. Oh wait, isn’t it already?

– Spring Football states produce more D-I recruits. Not really. Pennsylvania dispels that myth.

– Spring Football might only benefit big schools. True. Even in football-rich Texas many smaller schools don’t partake in Spring Football for the simple fact that they don’t have enough athletes. At some schools the athletes are still involved in spring sports (baseball and track) during the Spring Football schedule so schools don’t even mess with it. This no doubt would happen in Ohio too. It would have too.

– The end result would be better football players…but at what cost? Would other spots truly suffer from Spring Football or does it just sound bad? To me it just sounds bad, because the proposal stipulates spring sports athletes must be done with their sport to participate.

– One huge factor in states producing large numbers of D-I college players it can be argued is NOT Spring Football but rather simply the number of players. According to recent National Federation of State High School Associations sports participation numbers (2008-09 school year), Ohio had basically 800 high school football teams and 55,000 players, while California and Texas had over 1,000 high school teams and 100,000 and 150,000 players each, respectively. 

– It’s two more weeks of practice for players, which over the course of a
high school career is nearly an additional full season.

A.J. Blum is one of my best friends and was a teammate of mine at Ashland University. He’s also an Ohio native (Bryan High School) and a football coach in Houston, Texas at Westfield High School. A.J. has long preached the benefits of Spring Football and here’s what he has to say about it.

You want to read this…

EF: Tell me about Spring Football…

AJB: Spring football is great from an evaluation standpoint, especially if the program has good numbers. From a standpoint of planning the yearly calendar it is a great tool too because it allows you to either install, refresh or get players in different positions to get different looks. It breaks the monotony of offseason workouts and gives the kids a chance to take what they’ve learned and perform in the spring game.

EF: Why would you not do it?

AJB: Smaller schools opt not to do it just because of the logistical nightmare it creates with coaches/athletes doing spring sports. We try to schedule spring ball when the track team’s regular season ends so the only players we lose are regional/state qualifiers.

EF: Additional benefits other than reps?

AJB: From my standpoint it is also a huge tool for recruiting. I can recall several times where there were coaches from 15-20 (NCAA D-I) schools at Spring Ball watching defensive line prospects (I was coaching) during individual drills. I know speaking to college coaches they like spring ball for this issue.

EF: Negatives?

AJB: Obviously the ultimate “bad” is injury. We went through this last spring when our star wide receiver Christian Jones tore his ACL in drills. He came back to play our last four games this past season and although just about every D-1 school opted out when he tore it, Northwestern stayed true and he’ll be playing in the Big 10 this year.

EF: You’re from Ohio, what do you think about Spring Football in your home state?

AJB: I think it would be hit and miss. Schools aren’t nearly as large in Ohio as they are in Texas and you would most likely have an issue with numbers depending on what you wanted to accomplish in practice (due to spring sports). Down here we have less two and three sport athletes so it’s not that big of an issue.

EF: Explain this “Athletic Period” that Texas has…

AJB: Our athletic period is simply that. Fifth period is for upperclassmen (10-12 graders) and seventh is for ninth grade. During the season we’ll get in lifting, films, meetings, conditioning or sometimes key practice drills (if the weather looks bad later that day). During the freshman athletic period we’ll start practice so that every coach on staff gets an opportunity to work with their position players. When the period ends a set amount of coaches will stay and finish freshman practice while the other coaches go in for varsity pre-practice meetings. In the offseason we’ll work different routines. We’ll also go outside and work individual drills in the time leading up to spring ball so the base of what to be accomplished has already been installed.

EF: Got any evidence this gives you an advantage? Yeah, I know, but…

AJB: Case in point is the Herbstreit Classic game we played in 2009 (while at Klein Forest). It was 88 degrees at Fawcett Stadium and we had kids in long sleeves and tights while Warren Howland had eight kids leave the game with cramps. I’m not saying its better down here but you can’t argue with spring football and two a days in the 100 plus degree weather. Hell you were here in July and know what it felt like, imagine wearing full pads in that…

Ohio getting Spring Ball is a MUST and deserves a YES vote from everyone on the OHSAA Board of Directors on Thursday. And we’re not just saying that because were partnered with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.

There’s really no reason not to do it. In this state, football moves the needle. It’s as easy as that. And this would help Ohio produce an even stronger product.

In addition to kids getting more football work, the big draws to me are 1.) The added exposure for college recruiting and 2.) The fact that High School coaches are getting more time with their kids instead of outside sources.

And in actuality this is a pretty watered-down version of Spring Football – but it’s a great start. In Texas and Florida they play full contact spring games.

If the OHSAA Board approves the proposal on Thursday, there is no immediate knowledge of when Spring Ball could be implemented. That decision could come Thursday or in the future.

“The Board can set any ‘start date’ for approved proposals,” OHSAA Director of Information Services Tim Stried said. “So if it gets approved, it could be this year, next year or in five years.”

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