After the Whistle: OHSAA needs to add Spring Football in light of Mercy Rule, Only Fair…Right?

After The Whistle

By Eric Frantz

OHSAA approves Mercy Rule, Spring Football Next…?

I was going to send a survey to the membership of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, but then I thought – ehh, why not blind side them again. But this time for protection.

The OHSFCA has pushed repeatedly for Spring Football in Ohio. The OHSAA has steadfastly denied it. And yet…the OHSAA has suddenly made the strongest case for it.

Mercy Me.

frantz_columnistI’ve been so involved in trying to follow all of Ohio’s spring sports (weekly awards) that I almost forgot to follow its most important one. And then my friend Henry Conte reminded me oh so subtley why the OHSAA’s latest rule passage needed to be addressed…even more.

I learned of the OHSAA’s adoption of the NFHS’s mercy rule in football last Saturday in a tweet from OHSAA assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass. I respect Jerry as much as anyone at the OHSAA and we had a lengthy back and forth via Twitter. I produced the following article: Ohio will institute “Mercy” rule in 2014.

Jerry was just the messenger.

The OHSAA is the one to be questioned.

And I have some concerns.

First off, this is varsity athletics. Not intramurals.

I’m not Marv Marinovich, but when you wear the name of your city across your chest there’s a certain level of pride, sacrifice, effort and performance that’s expected. Hand in hand. Just how it goes.

Suddenly though, we’ve become immersed in a movement where we need to institute seven state football champions, competitive balance and…a mercy rule in football?

Maybe AAU does have something on the OHSAA. And that’s troubling too.

My daughter is in third grade, and she’s playing AAU basketball this spring. Don’t judge.

She loves it. But she also plays in games with terrible officiating. I don’t blame the officials (they ref three games a night every weeknight on a strict schedule) and I don’t expect AAU officiating will get better the older she gets. But the games do teach toughness. That’s something the OHSAA game is increasingly lacking.

Playing time, apparently, is on the most endangered list too.

I’m all for trying to keep football games competitive, but I’m not for limiting playing time and Friday Night minutes. That’s what this new Mercy Rule does.

It’s denying football players of snaps and anyone who has ever played football knows how important those are – regardless of which end you’re on. Like Henry said…“ Friday night is different. The lights, the sweat, the adrenaline, it all amplifies what you are in those pads. It reveals you as a player and, at times, a person.”


In 1992, I was a sophomore back-up linebacker on a team that bullied its way to a 10-0 regular season and plenty of lopsided wins. As a result I logged plenty of minutes and invaluable experience. That ultimately laid the foundation to a scholarship to Ashland University after my senior year. Highlights in ‘92 included winning the program’s first ever playoff game (over Graham) and beating Valley View 45-8 to win the Southwestern Buckeye League championship.

After that 37-point throttling of the Spartans, Valley View went on to win 92-straight SWBL games and three state championships. Included in that streak was my senior night – a 50-3 defeat.

I – like Henry – have seen both sides of the spectrum.

And I value both.

It’s football and there are only so many minutes to get kids snaps.

I’ve always found it amusing that the main combatant to the Spring Football argument is that we need to make offseason workouts fair for all sports in Ohio. If Football gets extra time, than all sports need extra time.

I’m here to talk some reason – NO THEY DON’T.

This is Ohio. This is football. This is unique. This needs to be understood.

If the OHSAA is going to cut football minutes in the fall, they need to add minutes in the spring.

It only seems logical. And Fair.

And that’s our goal these days.


16 thoughts on “After the Whistle: OHSAA needs to add Spring Football in light of Mercy Rule, Only Fair…Right?

    • Eric Frantz Post author

      Yep. I was at that game covering it for the Centerville-Bellbrook Times.. Luke Clemens set the school record with 333 yards rushing. Go Eagles. Still smiling about that one.

  1. Freak On A Leash

    The only reason Valley View won all of those games in the 90s was due to not playing Versailles. Big V was THE team in the 90s. The Tigers did win their one head-to-head match-up at Welcome and it wasn’t close. Just sayin.

  2. Hocus Pocus

    ^Now that’s a funny reply! The only reason the Bulldogs did not win State two years ago is because they got beat by Massie. Just kidding of course…

  3. KARAM

    Different times. You have to believe OHSAA is looking at the strong body of evidence that the cumulative effects of blows to the head (no matter how big or how small) does impair cognitive growth. Spring football is absolutely absurd in the light of what the medical community is learning. Brains need time to recover especially developing ones.

    • Eric Frantz Post author

      It’s amazing that with all that repeated brain trauma, any one who ever played football has been able to live a happy/productive life after high school. Let a lone tie their shoes.

    • downstg

      No – The evidence is not really a strong body of evidence. In fact I spend considerable time with Neuroscience and while there is evidence of the sometiimes lasting damage severe concussions might cause – especially repeated concussions..what you are arguing is absolutely unsupportable in the literature. Time frames for recoveries between fall and spring?? are you kidding. 3 weeks max for even a substantial concussion in the protocols. not 6 months – geez! I agree. How did any of us who laced up cleats years ago ever have fruitful lives in science and industry. In fact, I should be drinking from a straw and mumbling incoherently.

  4. Mark

    No way, that is crazy. First of all we are talking kids, not men. The kids need to get completely away from being hit to recover. Especially the kids on the teams that get to late November. The constant hitting and grinding of football is not what we need in high school athletics. The risk of injury and especially concussion would double. Its not like football is some highly skilled game such as baseball and basketball. Outside of the quarterback it requires a minimum amount of skill. Secondly, it would destroy spring sports rosters. Especially at the DIII and DIV level. Those schools need every athlete to play multiple sports to compete. Football coaches already brow beat their kids to be in the weight room, some even push them to run track because track practice lasts all but an hour and gives them time to do the work they want them to do. They hold playing time against kids if they play summer sports that may take them away from the weight room. Lets get our heads straight and realize this is just high school and football is not the safest sport in the world. Just because this sport is a job for the coaches does not mean it should be made a job for the kids. Lets stop with the football over-kill.

    Its more important to give kids a well rounded high school athletic experience. Those kids that like other sports will cave to pressure by football coaches, and feel like they have to choose football or they won’t get to play in the fall. . Personally I think all sports are already overlapping to much. Football coaches pushing their kids year around, basketball pushing kids to play summer basketball, and baseball pushing the fall. Each sport at the interscholastic level needs to stay out of the other sports season. I think the no contact periods should be extended and no contact of any coach should be allowed during another. Football is August through November, Basketball from end of football through mid March, Baseball March to June 1. Summer is a kids choice, but lets face it, baseball is a summer sport.

    Baseball is a sport that requires the most development to advance over any of the sports. Those kids need summer baseball, and no coach should be forcing them to choose there either. Lets stop with the football craziness, its not like millions of dollars are involved and we are talking about the safety of these young athletes. The fall is plenty of football for these kids, and personally they play too many games now.

    • Eric Frantz Post author

      Guess I’m missing the point where anyone said Spring Football was going to be mandatory and when in fact it was going to be held and for how long. People get this uneducated belief that Spring Football means you’re going to line up against another guy for two weeks and just bash your heads together. Not as much contact as you think involved in Spring Football. Always makes me laugh when people consider football the “bully” among high school sports too.

    • Eric Frantz Post author

      “Its not like football is some highly skilled game such as baseball and basketball. Outside of the quarterback it requires a minimum amount of skill.”…Haha. This is the icing…

    • downstg

      @ Mark – I don;t want to be rude – but your comments are so loaded with malarky I don’t know where to begin. I guess I will just leave my response to you at while I agree other sports and the chance to experience, learn and grow other sports can all feed into a better equipped athlete – my agreement with you will have to end about right there. The last thing we need in life and sports is more top-down statewide rule making on what a kid can & can’t do from season to season. “The constand grinding/Hitting” of football is not what we need in HS athletics?” What? Huh? I’d say with this generation of overly mothered young men, a little more constand grinding and hitting is exactly what many young men do need in athletics. A little more strength and agility training after two months of playing x-box on the couch is exactly what many young men do need. also – if a kid really doesn’t love the game of football – no one is breaking his arm to make him be out there. Go play baseball – go play lacrosse, hell go join the Future Farmers or 4H.. How about we let the kids chose and get out of the way other than guiding them and providing the opportunity for them to excel.

    • Scott

      I can not take Mark’s comment serious simply because it says “Mark” then “May” (the date) right after…

      And everyone in Ohio knows you can’t Mark May serious.
      Sorry, bro.

  5. TJ

    “Any position other than quarterback requires minimum skill” even the SKILLED positions? Totally not true. If a kid can play the sport of football he will prove his skills no matter what position. To my belief I think spring football in ohio should follow guidelines similar to what California and Florida are doing by establishing a 7v7 league, little to no contact for all you soccer moms, but that would help Ohio establish an even bigger reputation in football and be able to hang wih recruits from Texas, Florida, California etc… Kind of ironic how the better of the recruits come from states with spring football. It’s almost like the ones that have more time with the sport have better “skills” or according to mark football doesn’t require those.

    • downstg

      No-Disagree. Take a DL (Skill position in my book) You think he cannot refine his hand skills and footwork and understanding of today’s more complicated and athletic blitz packages with more reps.. thats crazy talk. As a play- I got better the more reps I took and the same is even more true today !

  6. Gregg Miller

    I just finished taking your survey. Nothing about my responses needs to be anonymous. Everything has been TOO anonymous. Everything is done behind closed doors. I used to be on the board of directors of the OHSFCA. I know how things are done. I don’t like hardly any of the changes they are trying to make to football. But nobody asked any of the coaches what we wanted. Every region has a representative on the board. He voted on these issues as our representative. But, we were never asked how we wanted him to vote. I like coaching other sports, and I want my players playing other sports. IT’S HIGH SCHOOL. Most kids are not going on in their athletic careers. They should be able to enjoy their high school days. I’m beginning my 35th, and last, year coaching high school football. It appears I am retiring just in time…….I want nothing to do with any of this.

    • downstg

      Mr “Miller’s” comments are spot on – This is high-school athletics. What are we really trying to do here – make the Friday night football event an easier “schedule” for mom and dad’s activity calendar? This is about and for the kids in their HS days. Friday nights will be a huge party of the HS memories and some idiot administrators want to shorten and minimize this for either budgetary, cultural or time-efficiency reason. None of which the kids give a flying squat about. This is a stupid and selfish mistake on the part of the organization.


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