ROCKFORD (WREX) -
The IHSA's annual amendment process featured a proposal that would've overhauled high school football. 65% said no to the idea of ending conferences and replacing them with class-based regions, ending historic and traditional rivalries ingrained in our area in the NIC-10, NUIC, and Big Northern conferences.
"Oh i think it's incredible because not only everybody argues within the conference who's best, but they argue which is the best conference and there's really good conferences just right here," says Lutheran head coach Bruce Bazsali. "It makes things real interesting around here and great press...to pick up on and follow."
Conferences are here to stay after 395 schools said no against 212 yes votes. Scheduling flexibility and minimizing travel costs were a few small school motivators.
"As educators, we're supposed to look out for the greater good of students and all that," says Forreston head coach Denny Diduch. "I have to think of my kids, the ones that are dedicated to our program who i see on a daily basis so it's clear for us and it's better for us to control who we play."
However, most believe future change is inevitable. Schools in small conferences that struggle to fill schedules are still out in the cold.
"As teams in the Chicago suburbs and all over the state have created these mega-conferences, similar to what the colleges have done, there are a lot of have, have-nots that don't have games. Equal competition is going to have to be established in terms of the number of games you have, for the playoffs," according to Auburn head coach Dan Appino.
Sycamore authored the failed proposal, but they're glad the conversation for stability has started gathering steam.
"We're tired of all the changes that happen, not only to football but when a conference changes, it changes all those other 19 sports for us," says Sycamore athletic director Chauncey Carrick. "That's the biggest thing, encourage people to stay together and work it out and keep all the mayhem from taking over the state of Illinois."
Appino agrees that the current structure will undergo some alterations. "I'm certain that change is imminent, I'm not exactly certain how it's going to look or be shaped but at least right now this has gained a lot more traction, this proposal, than anyone thought."
The 815's favorite conferences are sticking around, but the first domino towards tinkering the system has fallen. 75% of IHSA member schools voted, a 20% increase from last year.