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UIL: still Unbelievably Ill-Logical

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Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 8:00 am

It's been a week since the University Interscholastic League (UIL) released its biennial realignment and reclassification for the 2012-14 school years.

The governing body for statewide competition in Texas public schools put together an alignment that once again drew mixed reviews. Some were pleased, but many were shocked or flabbergasted.

I have always been a critic of the UIL, and this time was no different. Of course, I also saw some things that I consider "satisfactory."

For the most part, the UIL got it right with Classes 5A-3A. I was shocked to see the Waco-Temple-Killeen 5A district go west to District 8-5A, which is in Region I.

The past few years, that district has competed in Region II as either District 12 or 13. But, with every school in the district being located west of Interstate 35 or in cities along the Interstate, it makes sense to have those schools in Region I.

The biggest thing I enjoyed about the new 8-5A - being a former Temple High School football player - is no more long bus rides to Bryan or College Station for district contests. That's because Killeen High and Hewitt Midway moved up to 5A to knock Bryan and A&M Consolidated out of the district.

The new 8-5A has my Temple Wildcats in the same loop with Midway, the four Killeen ISD schools - Ellison, Harker Heights, Killeen and Shoemaker - Copperas Cove and Belton. Bryan and A&M Consolidated are now in 14-5A where they will compete against Lufkin and the four Conroe ISD 5A schools - Conroe, College Park, Oak Ridge and The Woodlands.

The rest of 5A makes geographic sense except for 28-5A where you have four San Antonio area schools - Cibolo Steele, East Central, South San Antonio and Southwest - competing against a pair of Corpus Christi schools - Carroll and King. I think they could've moved the two Corpus schools into a district with schools in the Rio Grande Valley, which could've allowed for four RGV 5A districts and three SA area districts to go with the Del Rio/Eagle Pass/Laredo district.

The 4A alignment makes sense for the most part as well. It is good to see Houston ISD open their eyes to the fact that they have eight high schools with 3A numbers, and see the district finally land its own 3A district.

It is bizarre not to see at least one Comal County school in 4A as New Braunfels, Canyon and Smithson Valley are all in 5A now. One of my best friends is a Canyon High School graduate, and he nearly went into shock when I informed him that his alma mater is now in Class 5A.

Speaking of 3A, our Gonzales Apaches won't have to take horrendous road trips to Pleasanton or Poteet for the next two years. The Apaches will still face Cuero and Yoakum, but that trio will go north to face Giddings, La Grange and Smithville in 26-3A.

As for the rest of 28-3A - La Vernia, Pleasanton, Poteet and Sam Houston - they'll stick together as they also get Somerset and Hawkins. Hawkins does not field a football program so the new 28-3A will have just five schools in football and six in the other sports.

While I was pleased with the alignments in the three largest classifications, I cannot say the same about the alignments in Classes 2A and A. Looking at those alignments reminded me of why I tell people that the UIL stands for "Unbelievably Ill-Logical."

I don't know who was responsible for creating the separate divisions in 2A and A football, but whoever did it needs to put an end to that for the 2014-16 realignment. Some of the travel for these districts are gawd-awful to put it nicely.

Take 14-2A-Division II for example. This football district consists of Blanco, Jarrell, Johnson City, Lexington, Randolph, Rogers and Schulenburg.

Schulenburg is anywhere between 107-124 miles from Blanco and between 121-136 miles from Johnson City. Those road trips are both over 240 miles round trip.

Lexington to Blanco (104-113 miles) or Johnson City (102 miles isn't much better. Nor is Rogers to Blanco (122-129 miles) or Johnson City (110-121 miles).

Rogers to Randolph (141-158 miles) is even worse. To add insult to injury, Rogers is located 24 miles from Rosebud-Lott - a member of 11-2A-DII.

The UIL didn't do much justice to Shiner either. The Comanches are located 19 miles south of Flatonia and 39 miles southwest of Weimar, but they will be placed in a separate football district than both schools.

Shiner will be in 15-A-DI and its closest road trip is to Yorktown - 48 miles away. The Comanches' second-closest road trip is to Ganado (61 miles), and they also face Kenedy (74 miles) and Three Rivers (107 miles).

Flatonia and Weimar are in the same football district - 13-A-DI - with Holland, Thorndale and Thrall. Fittingly, Shiner is in the same basketball district - 29-A-DI - with Flatonia, Ganado, Louise and Weimar.

I know that the lines have to be drawn somewhere, and that you can't please everybody. But it doesn't take a world geography teacher to figure out that some of these alignments are ridiculous.

In an era where gas prices are at an all-time high, why is the UIL creating horrendous travel concerns for its schools? Do what you can to reduce travel issues.

The first thing the UIL must do is do away with separate divisions for football. As a former 5A football player, I have a hard time sympathizing with the 2A schools of 210 students playing against schools with 420.

At Temple, we had an enrollment of 2,100 and we often played against schools with more than 3,000 students - sometimes 4,000. I think playing against schools with 1,000 students is a little tougher than facing one with 100 more.

My advice to the UIL - keep things geographically and mathematically simple. Until then, I will continue to label you as "Unbelieveably Ill-Logical."

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