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What's wrong with the current playoff format?

There will be no NJSIAA state football playoffs for public schools until at least 2015.

There will be no NJSIAA state football playoffs for public schools until at least 2015.

Is this really such a bad thing?

On Dec. 5, a proposal to change the NJSIAA constitution to allow state football championships for public schools didn't receive the needed two-thirds vote. The vote was 167-102 in favor, just 62 percent.

According to bylaws, that vote can't occur again until December 2013, and if it passes then, a vote on a specific playoff plan wouldn't take place until December 2014, meaning the earliest that state public school playoffs would come is 2015.

Other than coaches, does anyone really sense much despair in this development?

While we're not against state playoffs for public schools, it's also not devastating that they aren't here.

Just look at the recently completed NJSIAA South Jersey public school championships as an example.

In the past, the sectional finals had been played at neutral sites or, more recently, at the higher seeds.

The problem with the neutral sites in the past was that South Jersey teams weren't always competing in the seven-county South Jersey area. In fact, in some instances, they were barely staying in New Jersey.

Remember in 1995 when Washington Township beat Shawnee, 19-7, in the South Jersey Group 4 final at the Meadowlands?

That was total lunacy, to have two teams travel so far to play in front of so many empty seats.

More recently, until this season, teams had played the sectional final at the site of the higher seed.

While this wasn't bad, all the games were played on a Friday at 7 or a Saturday at 1. That meant the most games a person could see was two.

Now, contrast that with this season. The South Jersey Group 4 final was played on a Friday at Rowan and the Groups 1, 2, and 3 championships were played there the next day.

The weather was good, and so was the interest.

According to Joe Cardona, associate vice president for university affairs at Rowan, the four games drew a paid crowd of 11,227.

"When you put championship games involving South Jersey teams in South Jersey, you get kids playing in front of good crowds," Cardona said.

The NJSIAA, which incurs all expenses but also earns all the profits from the state tournament, had a similar take on the games at Rowan.

"I think it was a good move to have the playoffs down there," said Jack Dubois, the NJSIAA assistant director in charge of football.

So from a financial standpoint, this was a success for the NJSIAA. According to Dubois, the NJSIAA paid Rowan $13,000 for two days of renting the field. That total included the cost of all the workers, including security.

Tickets cost $5.50 each. Do the math. That was $61,748.50 in revenue minus the $13,000 expenses.

And from an aesthetic aspect, it was also successful.

The only downer was that the state Non-Public finals, which included three South Jersey teams (St. Joseph, Camden Catholic and Holy Spirit), were played on the same weekend at the College of New Jersey. Maybe the NJSIAA could stagger it so that the public and non-public games are on different days and a fan could see even more championships.

Either way, there were outstanding performances in the South Jersey non-public games, and it was a fitting conclusion to an exemplary season.

If somehow a state playoff can be incorporated and Thanksgiving games wouldn't be compromised, many people wouldn't mind seeing an extra two rounds of games.

Yet as we saw this year, it isn't mandatory.

Concluding the season with South Jersey teams playing for South Jersey championships in South Jersey wasn't such a bad way to see this fascinating high school football season end.