In this edition of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, Hannah and Jon tackle one of the most contentious and most talked about issues off the field this past year - the GHSA reclassification and realignment process. They get a firsthand account of how the reclassification committee’s decision unfolded from its chairman and hear from some of the coaches most directly affected.

Trinity Christian player avoids rusher in 2021 State Championship game

Trinity Christian defeats Prince Avenue Christian in the 2021 GHSA Class A Private state championship at Center Parc Field in Atlanta. The Lions jump from Class 1A to 4A when the new reclassifications go into affect this upcoming season.

Credit: Javy Gonzalez/GPB Sports

Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us however you are doing so, large device or small within the, hopefully, air-conditioned, confines of either a car, your home someplace. It's a lot cooler than it has been recently as we're doing things here at GPB. And I've opted for the t-shirt this week for more than one reason.

Hannah Goodin: That was very nice of you to wear. I appreciate your t-shirt.

Jon Nelson: Well, and for those that can't read the fine print or have to get out their glasses, this is an Uvalde High School soccer t-shirt. And so, with everything that's gone on there in Southwest Texas recently, I felt like, hey, I needed to find a way to support what's been going on there in Uvalde. And I found a place that actually you can get Uvalde High School stuff and it turned out that it was Uvalde Soccer because that's the sport that was going on at the time. And so, we are sporting Uvalde Soccer and being Coyote Strong this week with everything going on there in Texas. But, this week on the show, we are tackling the R-word, and I don't mean regulation; although, they are regulations.

Hannah Goodin: It's a dangerous word.

Jon Nelson: We're not tackling the r-word that I used during Football Fridays in Georgia. It is reclassification and realignment. It's R and R that we're talking about this week.

Hannah Goodin: So, we've been saying that we were going to do this podcast for a while. Yeah. And I think I have been researching since we-

Jon Nelson: Yes, since you first mentioned it. Yeah.

Hannah Goodin: You initially have.

Jon Nelson: You and Commander Sandy have been doing a boatload of research and I mean the amount of paper that has been printed upon and copied and.

Hannah Goodin: Enforced for John to read.

Jon Nelson: Control C and Control V into Microsoft Word documents has been. Absolutely. I mean, I how many okay.

Hannah Goodin: Three scripts is 15 pages for this podcast.

Jon Nelson: Reams of paper. But that's because there's a lot of different aspects of this that we felt we needed to tackle because when realignment happened, when reclassification happened, when this two-year cycle has now been put upon all of the fans of their favorite sports here and around the state, you sit there and you're wondering, okay, how many classifications are we going up? Who's our competition? Who do we lose? Any rivals? All of the scheduling things that you're used to seeing when it comes to football, as we're really close to football season all over again, how do these things change and how have our favorite schools in our areas here in the state been affected? And we wanted to try to get as many different viewpoints as possible.

Hannah Goodin: We did 472 members in the GHSA.

Jon Nelson: We did not get all 472.

Hannah Goodin: Now, we are not talking about all 472 members today, but when we started going through this, I was so confused. My head was spinning. So, I knew that our listeners didn't have all the facts either. So, I decided to get a Ph.D. in the GHSA reclassification for everybody, and we did all of the research. We have some awesome guests today, Jon, and I hope we don't lose you or bore you too much. But hang on till the end of this podcast because the perspective for 1A Private at the end with Kenny Dallas is, is the most interesting to me. 

Jon Nelson: Yeah, and-and it was great to have his perspective as a defending champ A at Trinity Christian. B, the fact that he's now going to be playing in 4A this upcoming football season, in this upcoming cycle for all of their athletics. Great to catch up with him to get the private perspective. Great to catch up with Davis Russell up at Bremen High School to get his perspective from the city school notion. Curt Miller from the GHSA Reclassification Committee is on with us as well and his perspective as an athletic director at Oconee County is vital to this. Matt LeZotte, the head coach at Richmond Hill for football, is on with us as well. We get to hear all of these different perspectives from Matt LeZotte, who is on the coast. He's now in region 1-7A. So, he gets to tackle Moultrie, and Colquitt. He gets to tackle what's going on in Tift and he gets what's going on with Lowndes, and Valdosta. So, he gets a challenge that is both in classification and in miles earned on all of the vehicles at Richmond Hill, because you're going from basically the coast just south of Savannah to Moultrie, and so catching up with him to get those ideas, it was vital to hear his perspective from a time in distance idea and to get the GHSA perspective as well. And Davis for bringing in Kenny Dallas. It's great guests that we have here. Over the next little bit.

Hannah Goodin: We're going to get to them very quickly. But first, we are going to give a few minutes of background information just to lead into all of the craziness. So, where I started doing my research is why did all of this start? And that's-that's kind of a given. But for those who don't know, every couple of years that GHSA goes through a realignment for several reasons. But the main one is because new schools are built, new population growth or decline in certain areas across the state. So that affects the number of students who attend a certain school. It's a two- or three-year cycle and the next two academic school year years coming up so through 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 are included in this latest reclassification. So, the reason we don't talk about this every time it happens is because this was a very dramatic one. There were some huge changes made. And Jon, tell us about some of those changes.

Jon Nelson: The biggest one really that folks look at is the multiplier, the 3.0 for the private schools and the city schools. And there was a lot of debate starting at the end of last year, last calendar year, about, okay, how do we make things more even competitive? And that was a lot of the discussion. And we get into this here in the show with private schools in their ideas and separation. You have some schools that end up leaving the GHSA and going to the GISA because of it. And Kenny Dallas breaks that down for us from the private perspective in single-A. But, you have the notion that is presented by public schools that there is a competitive disadvantage for them with the private schools versus public schools, the smaller public schools or public schools in general, and the city schools. And, so, there's that competitive balance idea that is like, okay, it's not a fair fight. And so that's why you have some of the-the public schools in the public regions come through with that particular argument because you're looking at a 3-0 multiplier. It was 2-0 in the last cycle. So, we get into the whole notion of being in a zone and being out of the zone. And, if you are in zone, it's straight up one for one. If you're out of zone, then there-

Hannah Goodin: Now, it's one for three.

Jon Nelson: Now, one for three. You used to be one for two. And, so, you're looking at, okay, what is my zone? How does it change? I mean, think about this like in politics with political districts and how that gets to-to change and how those forms and shapes just are altered. And, so, you're looking at, okay, how does how does my zone change? How does my region change? What is my zone look like? How is it different? How does that affect enrollment? How does that affect all of these other knock-on effects that have to do with schools? And so that's the best perspective that I can give every two years. The Georgia High School Association comes together and it's like, okay, so here's the zone for this area that has grown X amount. And so, you're talking about growth. You're talking about schools being added, you're talking about all of these different things that they have to put into this recipe that they're trying to draw up.

Hannah Goodin: And, please, everybody.

Jon Nelson: Yeah and-.

Hannah Goodin: From all over the state. And all walks of life.

Jon Nelson: And you won't. And, so, you've got to come up with the best solution that you can in a situation like this when it comes to reclassification and realign.

Hannah Goodin: So, you also have a school like Buford, a city School like Buford High. This really does not affect right, Jon? They won a state championship-.

Jon Nelson: They won a lot.

Hannah Goodin: In every classification from 1A to 6A and now they are in 7A. So, will they do it again? But not everybody has that success. So, we're going to breakdown how we got here and especially in this contentious reclassification cycle. So, like you said, the Classification Committee agreed on the 3.0 multiplier for all students out of zone. So, in doing so, over a dozen single A private schools were forced to move up classification. So, they left the GHSA, they went to the GISA or the GIAA or the GAPPS, which I did not know existed. So-.

Jon Nelson:  It does, yeah.

Hannah Goodin: I learned about that, too. So, for clarification, that's not the only reason why these schools left the GHSA, but it was the final straw. So, that created an insufficient number of schools to have a single A private class. So, now the other big part of this, besides the multiplier, is that there will be two divisions with 1A mixed with public and private schools based on school size. So, 1A division one will be the big schools, single A schools, 1A division two will be the small single A school. So, things got interesting, guys. Things got a little heated in these meetings over that. In particular, there were some big decisions made based upon different recommendations from all factions. So, we went to the source and asked the GHSA Reclassification Committee Chairman, Curt Miller what those discussions were like. Here's Curt.

Curt Miller – GHSA Reclassification Comm. Chair: I think at times it was spirited, but I think that came from, you know, the representatives from schools, representatives that were on re-class. You know, they're very passionate about-about what we do, and we're trying to make sure we're doing right by kids. And, you know, when you start talking about things that could impact a school going up, the classification, there's going to be some people that are that are upset about that. But, at the same time, you're going to have schools that are going to be excited about that, because now they feel that they'll have the opportunity to compete against schools that are more like them, and they're in this whole process. Competitive balance was our that was our main priority. And, you know, at the end of the day, we finally, for the first time in maybe ever, we've got the same rules for every single school in the state.

Jon Nelson:  And there were a lot of different scenarios thrown out there before they agreed on this 3.0 multiplier. One of those was the idea of a competitive balance model. Tim Hardy, from Greater Atlanta Christian School, and some of the bigger private schools came up with that idea. They were behind that. You had the introduction by reclassification committee member, Tom Tommy Marshall, the former athletic director at the Marist School, based off the school's past performance and each individual sport with the team moving up based on overall success. Here's Curt Miller again with more on the various models discussed and why the competitive balance model ultimately did not come to pass.

Curt Miller – GHSA Reclassification Comm. Chair: I think we had eight or nine meetings in eight meetings. And, you know, in that process it came up standard sticking with 2.0, 2.5 came up. And, you know, we thought about that and, you know, is that even going to make an impact? And then obviously, the larger private schools did a lot of homework led by Tim Hardy and-and some of those guys. And they came in with their-their competitive balance model. And, you know, I think without a lot of study and just jumping right into that, you know, in the couple of months, I just I wasn't comfortable doing that. And at the same time, that was a sport by sport moving up in classification. I’m more of a school holistically moving up, not just by sport? I think that's going to get really confusing. But, you know, those-those are really the models that were kind of present. And there were a few-few things people wanted us just to consider. And, you know, I think when you have eight re-class meetings. I think-I really think we did-did our did our due diligence in doing right by our schools and making sure we did consider everything. I mean, we had some-there were some tough discussions. And, you know, people that that have not said on that committee or they have not been in that room, it's easy for them to just give their own opinion and come up with a solution themselves without listening to the Schley Counties, without listening to the Telfair County, without listening to Banks County or Tyrone, you know, I mean, it's just there's so many-our schools are excuse me, our state is so diverse in-in not only our size of the schools, but what our school systems have to offer their schools. And-and, you really just have to take all of that into consideration.

Hannah Goodin:  So, you said it at the top, Jon. It's impossible to please everybody.

Jon Nelson:  472 folks that you have to please. Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Hannah Goodin:  So, there were appeals. Yes, 32 appeals were won to stay in their classification or go to their desired classification and 19 lost their appeals. So that's more than double the number of appeals that GHSA heard in 2019 during the most recent reclassification. Saint Pius and Woodward left Happy. They both won their appeals to not play in 7A, the highest classification. Most of the private schools were less fortunate, like Marist and BT, who will now compete in 6A. What do you think about the competition, Jon?

Jon Nelson: I think it's going to be interesting in this cycle before we go to what happens in three years, what it looks like. And, you know, we've seen you mentioned Buford and what they've been able to do as a city school and how they've progressed. What is it look like for these schools, all of these heavyweights? Because a lot of these names that you've mentioned so far here on the show, they've been those bluebloods, they've been the heavyweights. They've been those that have been chasing after championships. They been the ones that have been there at the last game of the year. What is this challenge going to be like for these schools in this new round for this next two seasons? What are the what are the win loss records look like? What are the playoff runs look like for a lot of these big name schools? That's going to be interesting for me.

Hannah Goodin: It really is. And we're going to talk more about these schools that won their appeals and lost at the end of the show. But, one school that lost its appeal, but still feels like the GHSA got it right is Richmond Hill. We talked to head coach Matt LeZotte about the Wildcats moving up from 6A to the daunting Region 1- 7A.

Matt LeZotte- Richmond Hill Head Coach: We're known as one of the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing county in the United States of America, where we're right up there. And-and, so-so, we expected to do it. And-and, so, everything that we've done and the conversations that we've had and the things that we've tried to do within our program have really been geared toward-towards this. But there were some people that were-were fairly shocked. They're like, man, we're going to be in the highest classification in Georgia and-and playing in arguably one of the toughest regions in the United States of America. And-and, you know, it's just one of those things that just got to come up with solutions. Can't worry about the problem, can't worry about anything else other than, hey, that's the next step in our growth and development. And-and-and we've got to we've got to adapt.

Jon Nelson: Were there any thoughts on Richmond Hill's part of appealing the initial ruling, or was it pretty much the inevitability that you were talking about?

Matt LeZotte- Richmond Hill Head Coach: Started looking at it. We knew it was fairly likely to be inevitable. And, so, when-but when we started looking into it, we started looking at transportation costs and seat time and said, okay, well, we're going to submit this appeal and see if we can if it will pan out. Don't think that-I don't think the GHSA I don't even think they considered it. I think they had already voted in a room behind closed doors as to-to what-what was going to take place. And, you know, they were pretty set in their ways. But those numbers in itself really, really showed that our students are going to be affected by it and our in our budget money is going to be affected by it. And that was back before gas prices are what they are right now. And, so, it's-it's more than doubled as far as the gas expense then from-from what it was back when-when we did that. But, you know, I got a phone call from our athletic director and principal on the way back and they said, hey, we were denied the ability to stay in 6A. And, my response was, let's go like let's go, let's-let's welcome it. Let's-let's continue to grow and develop. Let's expose ourselves to-to a very classy brand of football. All that's going to be that we're going to have to compete against, and I think across the board is going to be-its going to be very, very unique and challenging. And they're going to be a lot of benefits to us as doing this. Even though the Georgia high school has already said two years from now, they're going to go back to the drawing board and do it. I think there's going to be a lot that we're going to learn as-a as-a as a football staff, but also as a school and athletic department going and competing in this in this region.

Jon Nelson: When you look at 1-7A., I mean, you're basically having to go now from the coast to Moultrie.

Matt LeZotte- Richmond Hill Head Coach:: Yeah.

Jon Nelson: And I mean, that that is Tommy Palmer used to say a pack, a lunch, and a dinner, and probably a midnight snack trip. One of the things that I look at in this are the non-revenue sports and where they are midweek. It is having to go, you know, from one it just for the extremes. I mean three of your games in region are Lowndes, Valdosta, Colquitt. And, you're having to go from where you are to there. Yes, I know football is one thing, and I think that we're seeing more and more where it's almost like high school programs or like college programs where the revenue sports are the ones that are having to help out the non-revenue sports. And this-this time even more because of the geography that's involved. I mean, how much pressure are you feeling as an administration now, knowing that you're having to travel from hither to yon in this new region?

Matt LeZotte- Richmond Hill Head Coach: Well, I think-I think that the deal is in, and all the other coaches have-have met. And like you said, we're fortunate. And we-we travel two and we're home for two. As far as region play goes in there on Friday nights, it is what it is. But, when you start baseball and soccer and softball and basketball and you start having to-to come up with a plan, the coaches have met and they've come up with different plans, different sports, different. To attack this, to make sure that, uh, that, yes, we're able to get the games in and, but it's going to be mutually beneficial to all the schools involved when you play in the how you play the games. And-and I think-I think the-the coaches have really come up with really good plans to do that.

Jon Nelson: What were the conversations like about everything after the dust had settled with reclassification?

Matt LeZotte- Richmond Hill Head Coach: Well, I think-I think a lot of folks in ours really happy that we got out. And, I think with that being said, it's not necessarily just us. But, if we would have been allowed, then Camden probably would have been allowed to have the geographic deal pass through and that would have added Camden to our region also, which would have made it that much tougher on the other teams. But, you know, I think the-the conversations have always been positive.

Jon Nelson: So, Matt LeZotte knew it was coming, but someone who was more anxious about the process is our representative from a small city school, Bremen Head Coach, Davis Russell, and he's not too happy about the new multiplayer, but he tells us more about some other changes on the horizon that he is excited about.

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach: There's a lot of stress around reclassification when you're in a school like ours. We're-we're a school at right at 700 kids. However, 232 of our kids are out of district. So, you know, the talks were, you know, to try to do all we can to get that multiplier number down. And-and then and then, you know, there's fear. There's fear of where you're going to land. And, so, you know, that whole process was-was very, very unique. You know, we're-we're excited about the 3A region we're in, and we're excited about the role that the GHSA is going to put in place in two years. That, if you enter before in the sixth grade, you don't count against the multiplier because that takes our number of out of district kids from 232 to around 17 kids. Our kids begin here in pre-K. So, we believe in two years, everything the ship, the ship be riding a little bit. And we'll be we'll be good to go.

Hannah Goodin: You were a part of the reclassification committee. So, what were all these conversations like, being a part of that as a head coach and athletic director?

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach: Well, first the-first thing I thought the class committee did a good job being professional. You know, that-there were some there were sometimes that things could have got really heated, you know, and we met several, several times. We met to hear appeals. They went to hear realignment. Then, we made a motion to pass where the multiplier was on everybody. And, then-so then we heard appeals again, and we heard the realignment appeals again. But it-it was a very unique experience for me, especially being from the city school side and wanting to fight for my for-for my team. But, also, I was our region representative. So, some of our region was a-was against what, what my belief was. So-so really at the end, when I had a vote, I just abstained from voting because there was you know, while I'm representing Bremen, my job there was to represent Region 5-AA. So, like just the whole experience, was it-it was interesting. It was unique. But I do believe at the end of the day, in two years, with us dropping the classification and then adjusting who the multiplier will be put on, I do think the problem will be much, much better.

Jon Nelson: How many different plans do you remember hearing about before the 3.0 became the one that ended up being that there, at the end of the day?

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach: We heard a competitive balance. We heard the 2.0, we heard the 3.0. We heard the 2.5. We heard the private public complete split. We-we heard of two divisions of private schools. But what it came down to is if you did that, there weren't enough large private schools to-to be able to really formulate a playoff that would, you know, have more than two or three rounds.

Hannah Goodin: So, with all of this being said, do you think they came up with the best compromise? And what would you change?

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach:: You know. You know, the-the 3.0 multipliers. Harsh. Yeah. It's the highest multiplier in the country. Besides that, it's like 1.6-1.65 or something like that. So-so, we're almost double the multiplier, threes a lot. We had a safety that signed with Troy. He had 137 tackles. I guess he could've count as three, but I think he lived in Bremen in his whole life. But, you know, but, but no, that would be what I changed. But I tell you, I think they're on the right track. And, in two years with-with that multiplier, not counting to tell you unless-you unless you come in at an age where you could get recruited for sports.

Jon Nelson: Gas prices aside. But, from a competition standpoint, because you're having to travel all of these distances because of the region that you're now in, having to go, you know, for tennis or soccer in a midweek, how much of a concern is that for you?

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach: You know, it is this is concerning as our region has done a great job of cutting the travel as much as they can. My wife is a volleyball coach here, so we coach in the same seasons. And, what they're going to do when they have to travel is they're going to play two schools every time they go.

Hannah Goodin: My last question for you. You are our city school rep here. So, what was it like being a city school, a part of this process? Because I know that's unique as well.

Davis Russell – Bremen Head Coach: There there's a lot of differences. Yes. City schools, you're able to-to get kids in and pay tuition and all of that. But, like I said, in our case, these kids are coming in at a very early age. And-and that was that was kind of what I reiterated constantly is-is look, we're not Buford, you know, and-and that's no knock-on Buford. They're excellent. They're excellent in everything they do, you know. But-but, we-we have, you know, our school, our kids have in our kids have grown up, you know, wanting to be Bremen Blue Devils. They played in the Bremen Rec. System, and I'm sure that happens at Buford, and Cartersville, and Calhoun, and everywhere. But what we wanted to get across was listen to everyone's situation, not don't just group us in as private school, as city school, as you know. Listen, let's hear each unique situation. And-and Dr. Hines reiterated that constantly. You know, when we do these appeals, let's-let's listen. And, don't just say, hey, this is the city school, you know. So, it's they and me being a rep. For that, was it-it was unique. But, you know, I'll tell you, the-the ones who were in there, too, had-had to really fight with the private school guys. They-and-they put some really good proposals on the table and were very professional. And I was very impressed by those guys.

Hannah Goodin: Little Irk throwing around..

Jon Nelson: Banging and clang in.

Hannah Goodin: The weight room.

Jon Nelson: That was fantastic. That was that was very, very cool and great to catch up with Davis Russell as well. One other proposal before we get to our final guest here that drew a lot of criticism was to separate the public and the private schools in all the classification. Stratford Academy football coach and AD Mark Farriba was critical of the GHSA back in September when they were considering separating public and private schools and all classifications. Class 8 had already been split that way for playoffs since 2012, and so the plan to split all public and privates was abandoned. But that did not entirely get the liking of all the private schools. So, single A private schools affected the most by the multiplier. One private school in particular making the HUGEST.

Hannah Goodin: Hugest jump.

Jon Nelson: And I just made a word. The most-the largest jump of them all from one to 4A. Trinity Christian head coach Kenny Dallas could have possibly the biggest challenge of them all.

Hannah Goodin: Hey, Coach Dallas. Given that private schools are one of the main targets of the reclassification, what were your biggest concerns throughout the process and how do you feel about where things landed?

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: Oh, my goodness. What a big question. So-so much happened this-this offseason and so. Goodness, I-where to start exactly? I kind of start with the end. We're very happy with where we're at in the sense that, yeah, we're going to be playing a 4A schedule this next year. Of course, we were in single-A private, and I guess let me back up a little bit. We knew when-when-when the service area was changed, and it was really tightened down specific for private schools. We knew that there was probably going to be some movement of private schools back to GISA. And, as we began to look at that and then of course, when the multiplier was-was, you know, in the exact same time that they did that as also increased the multiplier. As I got talking to guys, you know, in single-A private, it was pretty clear that we were going to lose a number of schools back to the GISA. So, for us, for us, it was just simply a choice of, okay, so looking at it, using the multiplier, it looked like we probably would turn out to be about 3A school. So, for us, we've kind of taken a look at our area. We've got a lot of big public schools around us, you know, within 30 minutes of us that are 4A schools. So, it made sense for us. So, that's why early on we requested even before all the big shift happened, we just requested to go up to 4A to just go ahead to be sat there. And we felt good about that. And, you know, we're excited about that. As far as just across the landscape, of course, there's a lot of people upset. There's a lot of people. Okay, the way I look at it and the way I try to, when I talk to our folks, is I say it's a little bit of this idea. It's like you're a Democrat in Mississippi or you're a Republican in New York. You have a vote, but you only have so much of a vote, you know? And so, like, I recognize that. I recognize the vast majority of voting members are voting with a mindset that doesn't completely understand private schools. And so, I just get it. And so, there's a certain amount for me, it's like, okay, what are our rules? Tell me what the rules are and now let's play. And-and, so anyway, you know, I hear a lot of things of how-how they may in the next couple of years, maybe shift back. People are talking about, you know, maybe cutting down the amount of classifications back down to six. It'll just be interesting to see how it goes. My only-my only dilemma and I'm giving y'all a long answer on this.

Jon Nelson: It's all good.

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: But my only dilemma with this is I think we made two massive changes, the change of service area, and we also made a change on the multiplier. I would have preferred to just do one of those because I think it's hard for people when they look back after we go through these next two years, and they see how it had impact. Then you start asking the question, well, which one of it was really the one that had the impact? Which one worked, which one didn't work? So, to do two big things at the same time, that's probably my only frustration is, man, why couldn't we have just done one and taken a look at it and see how it impacted? But I think-I think every-every private school guy is-is reasonable enough to say, okay, we're going to have some sort of multiplier. But, at the same time, you know, there has to be some give and take, too, because I do believe-I do believe we have the best high school football in the nation. And I just think in pound for pound, you can make a lot of case for that. When you look at the amount of kids that go to college out of the out of the state of Georgia compared to others, just kind of with the numbers, we just want to be careful. Let's don't tinker with this so much that we break something that's incredibly, incredibly good. And that's probably my biggest concern.

Jon Nelson: So, then let me ask you this. With all those scenarios that came to the fore, the different multipliers, I know that two and a half was on the board, competitive balance was on the board. I think Tim Hardy at GAC had mentioned that one as a model. Is there one of those that didn't make the final verdict that you had a preference of over one of the others and by the-by the end of the discussion?

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: So-so I'm going to tell you; I don't know how much you guys have studied Coach Hardy's presentation that he made on competitive ballots. But the bottom line was basically, you win a state championship, you get bumped up, you know? Yeah. And so, I bet that certainly to me makes a whole lot of sense. And here's what's difficult. When you look all sports together and you say we're going to have a multiplier like, you know, a 3.0 multiplier 2.5, whatever that is. And you group everyone together well all right, you know, certainly inside private school. And, I would say in all schools, you're just better at some sports that you are at others. You have more tradition in some sports than you have in others. And, so to me, that made a lot of sense. But I'm going to be completely honest with you. I'm a little bit more in the camp of, okay, let's just define the rules, let us know what the rules are. And-and, I'm not trying to be arrogant or cocky when I say this. I'm just saying private schools, for the most part, really work hard to adapt to the rules because we know we're not in the majority in terms of voting. So, we just need there to be some, you know, some-some sort of equity. And, so, you know, I know for some private schools, the reason why the-the service zone area became such a big deal is because there are some private schools that look, there's a private school in a service zone area where very, very, very few kids go to school right there.

Jon Nelson: St. Pius

Kenny Dallas: Where the private school is, that's exactly right. I mean, you have some schools where you're talking about on one hand is the number of schools, number of kids that go to school in that area. That's not ours. A lot of kids go to the East Coweta School District that come to Trinity. So, it doesn't affect us that way. We, you might say, well, what does that matter? Well, the one way a kid is a bona fide eligible is if they move into your service area. Well, if no one is ever moving into your service area, you really have almost no chance to pick up new kids because they're not going to move into that area, if that makes sense.

Jon Nelson: Yeah.

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: So, we're not talking about recruiting kids. We're not trying to get kids to move here. I'm just talking about if somebody is moving from Tennessee to Georgia, if they would just not move into that district like that. Private school never has a chance to get those families because it's not an area that they would come to. And so I get why for some private schools, that was a very difficult change, you know, that was made for them.

Hannah Goodin: So, we saw over a dozen single private schools leave the GHSA. What do you think about public and private playing together now that the private sector has been dissolved?

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: We now have gone back into a model in single-A. Well, we just have a lower single-A and an upper single-A. You know, it is not now, you know, private-public in single-A, private and public is mixed together. So, what's kind of interesting that going full circle and eliminating that man, I almost feel like we're all the way back in 2011, where now 2011 we only had six classifications, but all classifications played together public and private. Yeah. If you'll remember, a big part of the discussion that started this was, you know, that this winter there was a discussion. Not only are they separate in single-A, but they started looking at the non-big private schools.

Jon Nelson: Right.

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: And go, we're going to separate them too. So, what's interesting is we started in January talking about a complete separation of public and private. We actually came completely full circle back to every classification is now playing together, which I love. That's absolutely I believe that's the way it should be. Now, we've added the private schools service area has shrunk a great deal and also there is a big multiplier, but it's really interesting. Now we went from going, hey, we're going to, and so I wouldn't say private school got everything, you know, bad in this because I think it's a good thing, we're actually all back together using a multiplier now.

Hannah Goodin: It's an interesting perspective.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. And now since you've gone up from single to quad., you've got to figure out your non-region schedule all over again on a quad. A basis. How difficult is it for you as a defending champ in the classification, going up three classes and then having to fill a non-region schedule as a quad school? What is that exercise been like?

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian:: Well, well, in the old system, the way we were the last however many years we had such small regions because we were separate, private and public. I mean, we've played now for years now with just three region games, which is-it's a nightmare trying to find seven non-region games. But us going 4A, we actually have seven region games now, you know, being, you know, public and private together. Now, I don't know how many private schools are in 4A, you know, a handful of them, not many, but we actually-so I only have three non-region games. But that being said, you know, I was telling somebody the other day the, you know, the, the, the reward for getting to play in the single A private state championship game the last two years, and winning it last year, and having a pretty good team is we get to start the season this next year playing Woodward, day one. That's the reward. That's the reward for that. You know, because, yes, it does. It becomes more challenging. But, you know, we're going to play Mary Persons game three. That's normally not a game that we would play. You know, we were single-A private, you know, they're in Forsyth. They are about an hour away from us. They’re are 3A school. Now, with us being a 4A school, it's-it's pretty exciting to me professionally, because I'll just tell you guys, since 2001, against, minus a two-year hiatus in there, I've spent my entire career in Georgia in single-A private. So, what's interesting for me is I'm going to play a schedule next year, nine of my ten games. I've never played any of these teams before.

Hannah Goodin: Wow.

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian:: And so, I'm super excited professionally. It's just like a whole new world for me that I'm getting to learn. So, kind of an old dog, kind of learning some new tricks I'm really excited about.

Jon Nelson: Well, thanks for pulling back the curtain and letting us know what's going on with you. That was why we wanted to have you on because of your unique situation on a couple of different levels. And that's why we wanted to have you on to talk about reclassification from your perspective. Thanks for hanging out with us here on the on the podcast.

Kenny Dallas – Head Coach Trinity Christian: Absolutely. And thank you for having me. And I really appreciate I'm gonna tell you, the one thing that I think might be interesting to see is as they figure out what this multiplier really should be. And-and, you know, the discussion now is private schools should be allowed to pick which service area in their county they want. In other words, which school system should be their service area. You don't get the whole county, but you just get a county. It’s just a prediction for me in a couple of years from now, if that stuff figures itself out, I can-I can personally see several of those schools that went GISA. I could see them moving back into GHSA. You know, if they were welcome to do so, because all of that makes a lot more sense now. And I think that's where the vast majority of schools want to be. Not to say anything negative about GISA, we just know. I mean, the competition of the state is in GHSA.

Hannah Goodin: Great stuff from Coach Dallas.

Jon Nelson: So, how many questions did we ask him, four?

Hannah Goodin: Four questions. 12 minutes.

Jon Nelson: That's about right.

Hannah Goodin: That's amazing.

Jon Nelson: But there are there are coaches here in the state of Georgia. All the coaches are very, very passionate, not just football coaches, regardless of the sport that we're talking about here. You're talking about passionate coaches who believe in their schools, in their systems, in their student athletes and their administrations and all this kind of stuff. And when you can have someone who is like Kenny Dallas and you can, you know, his passion is there. He's been a veteran here coaching football in the state of Georgia short of those two years. But, to hear him break things down in ways that you and I admitted to each other during the interview, that we hadn't heard it that way before. And so, when Kenny can sit there and he can lay things out in a way that we hadn't considered, it does open other doors to understanding what's been going on with the with the 2 RR's here.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, completely. And that's why I said at the top of the show to at least wait to the end, because his interview was the most eye opening out of all of the research, I had done on this. Listening to him, I'm like, Oh, oh. I mean, I just continue to say that and it's so true. It's like what Curt Miller says. You don't know the perspectives of the other schools in the other regions unless you're in that room hearing from them specifically. So, even just talking to-to Coach Dallas gave me even a different perspective. So, I thought that was really important to hear from him.

Jon Nelson: And the reminder from Davis Russell about in the appeals process about where Dr. Hines said, take each one individually, take each case individually as they're appealing. Don't sit there and lump them all together into a pub, into a private group or a city group or what have you. Take each case individually, so you can understand their particular plight when it came to them wanting to appeal in this process.

Hannah Goodin: So, with all of that being said and all the pieces in play in the end class AA through 7A unanimously approved the multiplier and the class 1A division into division one and Division two. So, Jon, let's talk about some of the schools that were affected most by this. Who do you think they were?

Jon Nelson: Well, I mean, we talked about it earlier. Obviously, we mentioned Blessed Trinity. We mentioned Marist. You know, Saint Pius came up during the discussion in the show with Coach Dallas about all of their kids practically being out of zone. And, you have a school like Saint Pius being affected the way that they are. You have the city schools that lost their appeals. You've got Carrollton who lost their appeal as they wanted to go from 7A to 6A. So, Carrollton is in it losing their appeal there. You've got B.T. and Marist who lost their appeals. But, Cartersville, I think Cartersville will be an interesting case because they won their appeal to go from 6A to 5A. So, keep an eye on Cartersville as we have going forward. 6A, you've got Thomas County Central, Justin Rogers. You caught up with him so far this year and have gotten to understand he was.

Hannah Goodin: Worried about this multiplier. Yeah.

Jon Nelson: And so for those that haven't had the chance to, you know, listen to what Hannah and Coach Rogers have been discussing, go back on in our archive and go back and listen to that interview, so you can hear about what his concerns were that were a part of this. You have Perry, who won an appeal to go from 5A to back down to quad. So, we'll keep an eye on the Perry Panthers and see what it's going to be like for them. But Calhoun lost an appeal, so they're going to be in 5A. They lost their appeal to drop down the quad-A. You got, you know, GAC who lost their appeal. Flowery Branch lost their appeal. Jefferson and Jenkins of Savannah lost theirs as well. So, I mean, you look at a lot of these folks and we talked about how interesting competition in the competitive model will be. Those were just another couple of examples of a lot of these bluebloods and these heavyweights that we're used to seeing, not just in football once again, but since that's the season that we're heading toward, that's our that's our context here. All of these heavyweights that we're used to seeing now, they're having to do things a little differently. How do they respond? Might take a year for some to respond, to be ready for that second year before everything goes back in again, and we get reclassified and reorganized all over again. But maybe this first year is a growing process for these schools. We'll see. Some may respond faster than others. Some may do better in other sports before others. So, that-this is this is the petri dish that we're in for the next two years.

Hannah Goodin: And one more thing, there were some schools that were requesting to go up. Not everybody was forced, there were 14 schools that were approved. Well, everybody except for one was approved to go up. Everyone except for Fellowship Christian and Milton is one of those. They will now be playing in 7A.

Jon Nelson: And that's going to be interesting to see how they respond as well. And for me, like I said, I enjoy the competition that we see in all the sports here in the GHSA. But, you know, when you have these new cycles come through, what does it look like? Coach Dallas talked about his having to have the regional schedule that he has and not having to chase after as many non-region games. So, it's a little easier for him. And, you know, Davis Russell was talking about where the geography of his region going basically from where he is on I-20, having to go all the way to exit 350 on I-75. 75, right?

Hannah Goodin: Hmm.

Jon Nelson: 85 goes that way. 75 goes that way. So, I got it right for the first time in ever. But, I mean, just the geography that some of these coaches, Matt LeZotte talked about geography. Davis Russell talked about geography. It has to be conquered. Kurt Miller talked about all of these different conversations that were had with all of these different schools to get to where we are. It's-it's going to be fascinating for me how the-the schools respond, how the regions respond. The notion of having the non-the non-revenue sports meeting at midpoints having those two the volleyball teams meeting and having dual meets and tri meets, things like that. How do we work around these issues? That's another part of the part that's going to be interesting for me.

Hannah Goodin: So, shout out to GHSF Daily for making some of this bite size for us.

Jon Nelson: Some bigger bites than others.

Hannah Goodin: Yeah. A lot of the information about the appeal stuff from them. So, thank you to GHSF Daily. And, then if you want more information about where your school lands in all of this go to have where every single school under their umbrella lands and why and the voting process and the numbers and things that we did not have time to get into today. And Jon is writing a blog about this as well.

Jon Nelson: Yes, so next week, there will be more perspective.

Hannah Goodin: Even more perspective. Just in case, you haven't gotten enough reclassification information.

Jon Nelson: Well, and I and there were other schools that were affected. And one of those that with the in zone out of zone element is Vidalia. And we'll catch up with their situation as well and how they're having to tackle it with Vidalia in Montgomery County and-and what it looks like there and how they're working with it in this new two-year cycle. So, it is-it is going to be the story that continues to be told for the next two years and how folks respond but-.

Hannah Goodin: I want to congratulate everyone who has made it this far in the podcast. You now also have a Ph.D. in the GHSA reclassification, and there are certificates that will be printed and given out.

Jon Nelson: And Hannah is going to do it. Hannah is going to print out the certificates and do.

Hannah Goodin: DM me on Twitter or something. And we will.

Jon Nelson: Reach out to us-

Hannah Goodin We will.

Jon Nelson: @OSGNelson, @HannahCGoodin, and @GPBsports.

Hannah Goodin: And we will find a printout for you.

Jon Nelson: Kind of like-kind of like the excuse that the teams give for like a final or something. Please excuse so-and-so. Like, when the Braves were chasing the World Series, please excuse so-and-so from coming to work tomorrow because game five of the World Series went until 12:30 in the morning.

Hannah Goodin: Because the reclassification podcast was so exhausting.

Jon Nelson: But now, thanks to everybody here at GPB. Commander Sandy and Jake the Snake for helping us piece this thing together. Thanks to all of our guests. Thanks to the GHSA. Thanks to you for hanging out, and listening, and being educated as much as we were, too. So, hopefully this answered some of your questions and answered some of ours. And, if you've got questions, keep asking because that's what we're here for, to continue to tell these stories and-and let everybody know what else is going on here around the state. Any final words from you this go round?

Hannah Goodin: I am all out of words.

Jon Nelson: So, since Hannah is wordless, I guess that means that we're done for another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Thanks for hanging out with this large device or small, GPB, GPB-dot-org, the GPB Sports app. Ways to stay in touch with us all season long. Like friend, be a part of the conversation there. Before you know it, you'll know what that football is going to be here. Football Fridays in Georgia. We're working on our schedule.

Hannah Goodin: Yes, we are. So, we have finalized some Friday.

Jon Nelson: When we know what our final Fridays are, then we will let you know as well. But we're working on the schedule.

Hannah Goodin: People are going to be very happy.

Jon Nelson: And it's going to be fantastic to see everybody here starting in August. So, for Commander Sandy, for Jake, the Snake, for Hannah, I'm just Jon. Play it safe, everybody. Thanks for hanging out with us. Play safe, everybody, will see you next time.