Before the football game last Friday, stuck in traffic from one place to another, I was listening to a local sports-talk radio show discuss the topic du jour: that night's matchup between Division I power Centerville and Division IV power Alter. Given the points system the OHSAA uses to determine which schools get into the playoffs, it can be a bit of a risk for a big school like Centerville to schedule a team like Alter, as small schools yield fewer points than bigger schools do. This is mitigated to a certain extent if the team in question wins a bunch of games, as Alter is certain to do, but there's enough of an effect (real or perceived) to make games like this a rarity.
This led to a discussion of scheduling strategy, and the hosts gave a lot of credit to the "Big Three" (Centerville, Northmont, and Wayne, the perceived "powers" in Dayton-area Division I football, all of which have much larger student populations than my beloved Troy Trojans) and a couple of others for scheduling games with other big-time Ohio schools. To their way of thinking, that's how a team becomes a powerhouse: by pitting themselves against other powerhouses and playing up to that level. To that end, some of the teams they talked about were Cleveland St. Ignatius (Centerville this year, Northmont last year), Canton McKinley (Wayne), Cincinnati Moeller (Wayne, Northmont, Centerville last year), Cleveland Glenville (Wayne), and even Upper Arlington (Springfield).
To be fair, I give a lot of credit to those teams too, on both sides, for scheduling these games. Now. What I want to know is where some of these teams were back in the late '90s, when there was exactly ONE Division I powerhouse in the Dayton area, and it was Troy. I'll give credit to Centerville, who played Troy those years and took their beatings, and to Northmont, who was in the GMVC with Troy and had no choice. Wayne, on the other hand...I have no insider knowledge, but I've heard that Wayne was supposed to be on the schedule during those years and ducked the games. It just seemed like they had a hard time filling the schedule in general, leading to Troy having to bring in some awful teams, like Akron Coventry (who I understand has gotten much better, but I'm pretty sure they went 0-10 the year they played at Troy). I don't know how hard Troy tried to schedule some of these other powerhouse teams in question, but I'd be curious to find out. I would have loved to see some of those matchups.
And really, since the guys on the radio didn't do it (not saying they wouldn't; just saying it didn't come up, at least not while I was listening), I want to give Troy some credit for their scheduling philosophy. They're not traveling all over the state, but in general, they play some pretty tough teams, big and small, whether they themselves are up or down. Centerville has been a frequent opponent over the years, as I noted. Now that we share a conference with Wayne, we've seen them a few times (although that's dictated by the league and not "scheduled" per se). Off the top of my head, we've also played Upper Arlington, Dublin Coffman, Chaminade-Julienne, Valley View, and yes, even Alter. And I'll throw Middletown in there too, since they're pretty good now, even though they weren't when the Trojans added them to the schedule. And I'm sure there are at least one or two others that aren't coming to mind.
Also, while we're on the topic of scheduling: since the Trojans have shown a willingness to take on strong smaller programs, how about a game with Tipp City? Oh, I'm sorry, I mean Tippecanoe. I can't be the only person in Miami County who wouldn't mind seeing that happen. On the flip side, I'm not terribly thrilled about Greenville rejoining to the conference in 2012. I like playing them for tradition's sake, and I also like their stadium, but they don't stand to offer much in the way of competition or Harbin points. Hopefully that will change over the course of this year and next.
Anyway. Most of this is neither here nor there; I just think it's interesting how these things change over time. And, okay, I also get a little worked up when someone intimates that the discussion of Division I football in the Miami Valley goes no further north than Huber Heights and Clayton. The Trojans may not be what they were in the late '90s, but they're still a program with a lot of tradition, and nothing to sneeze at.