One year after making the biggest change in league history — cutting the 50-year-old FCIAC Football Championship — the league voted against making another drastic change that would have aligned the traditionally stronger football schools into their own division. Instead, it chose to make minor moves to even up the talent in its two divisions.
“The competitively balanced schedule proposal failed to receive the nine votes necessary for adoption by the FCIAC,” Dave Schulz, the league commissioner, wrote in a statement issued Wednesday morning, Dec. 14.
The proposal failed in a 9-8 vote by FCIAC principals; the league did not release how the voting broke down by school. There will, however, be some minor changes to FCIAC football landscape in 2017.
Bridgeport Central will move from the Eastern to the Western Division in the 17-team league, which must have one division with an odd number of schools. Also, Ridgefield and Danbury will switch divisions, which will put four of the top eight schools — based on winning percentage from the past 2 seasons — in each division. The league has periodically moved teams from one division to the other to maintain equitable schedules.
New FCIAC Football Divisions
The FCIAC has periodically moved teams from one division to the other to maintain equitable schedules, Schulz noted on Wednesday. “One cross-divisional game will also be scheduled using a winning percentage formula,” he said. “These match-ups will be adjusted based on existing Thanksgiving match-ups, the need to rotate off of this year’s crossover games and the requirement of Stamford and Trinity playing each other for the city championship. The football schedules for 2017 and 2018 will require half of the teams in our league to fill bye dates. This may prove to be quite challenging based on the consolidation of leagues around the state.”
Some of the other football leagues in Connecticut had already set up inter-conference deals that will limit how many area teams are available to fill the FCIAC’s bye dates. The CIAC, Connecticut’s interscholastic athletics governing board, limits Connecticut high school teams to 10 games per season before the three-round state playoff tournament. Some of the FCIAC’s top-tier teams might not easily find another team in Connecticut willing to add a likely loss to its schedule.
The FCIAC had the best performance of any league in the four CIAC postseason football tournaments this year: Winning two of the four state titles (Darien and New Canaan), while two other teams (Ridgefield and St. Joseph) made it to the finals. The FCIAC finished the postseason with a 10-3 league record (two of those losses coming in FCIAC head-to-head games).
The 2017 and 2018 FCIAC JV and freshman football schedules will be modified for as many games as possible to create competitive balance. “Because schools with struggling programs will have more opportunities for success we believe this action will help retain players and create competitive situations for the schools with historically stronger programs,” Schulz said.
“The concept of competitive balance has importance for all our member schools. The league plans to continue researching scheduling and other options for creating positive experiences for all student-athletes,” he added.
The 2017 schedule is now being finalized with balancing home and away games and will be released either today or tomorrow.
HAN Network will have much more on these developments on Nutmeg Sports, our daily Connecticut sports talk show (Monday-Thursday at 2 PM on HAN.Network), which resumes next week after the Winter FCIAC Tour ends.