02/18/12 — Opinion: Realignment almost set

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Opinion: Realignment almost set

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 18, 2012 11:11 PM

Logic isn't always meant to be understood. That certainly applies to the third realignment proposal sent to athletics directors statewide by the N.C. High School Athletic Association late last week.

The realignment committee considered some concerns that were introduced during the January meeting at East Carolina University. But I'm guessing some issues became mute before they were tabled for discussion.

Nonetheless, in 17 months, the latest shake-up in the North Carolina prep sports landscape will take place. Old friends will reunite, while new rivalries will develop in other leagues.

Since discussion began more than a year ago about "who is the best fit for who," and "who geographically should get placed where," it seems the Association had already plotted the course for this latest realignment. SAS in Cary was hired to design a proposal that avoided split conferences and limited travel, although in some instances it was unavoidable.

ADs applauded the initial model.

The next two drafts, the exact opposites of the SAS plan, went over like a ton of bricks. Split conferences reigned supreme, especially in the eastern part of the state when it seemed -- logically -- that larger schools could have been shifted to properly balance conferences.

Oh, no.

That wasn't the case.

A political influence, as it has in every previous realignment, undoubtedly surfaced this time as well. Somewhere behind closed doors, a few "back scratches" took place to amend for previous realignment decisions that weren't so popular. Those schools are now getting rewarded for the years their athletic teams and budgets took major hits.

But, it is what it is.

Time to buckle up the chinstraps, gas up the bus and play the hand you've been dealt when the new realignment takes effect July 2013.

Here's the breakdown:

* Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne will join a split-classification league that includes J.H. Rose, New Bern, D.H. Conley and South Central. The realignment committee granted West Craven's appeal to stay in the Coastal 3-A Conference.

Suddenly, those frequent playoff appearances and pristine records will become more rare for the Golden Falcons, Saints and Warriors. The 3-A schools will receive just one postseason nod ... maybe two ... depending on at-large situations that could arise if not enough teams qualify.

* Goldsboro is undoubtedly giddy about its return to the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference and eagerly anticipates joining current Carolina 1-A foe Ayden-Grifton, North Lenoir, Kinston, South Lenoir and Greene Central. Man, what a head-knocking and athletic league that's going to be during football season.

* The core of the Carolina 1-A Conference -- Rosewood, North Duplin, Princeton and Spring Creek -- will welcome non-football member Neuse Charter and three former Carolina foes in James Kenan, Lakewood and Hobbton.

ADs can make one last appeal in writing before March 1 and verbally voice their opinion in person March 15. The realignment committee will assess those pleas and finalize the Association's proposal in mid-May.