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INA's all-state process needs another fix

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 12:16 p.m. CST

The Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual all-state football teams were released recently. And let’s just say, things didn’t go well.

The INA Board of Directors changed the process this season. Instead of in-person meetings in Des Moines on the Sunday after all the state championship games were played, the INA went to an all-Internet ballot.

No discussion. No statistics. Just a bunch of a names and schools.

This format fell flat on its face. There were great selections, players that belonged on the team. No doubt about that.

There were also some head scratchers, mostly because we aren’t sitting in a meeting and discussing things like adults.

The INA felt like they needed more participation. In past seasons, media members willing to drive to Des Moines converged to choose the teams.

Each writer can vote in one meeting but a lot of times if I am voting in Class 2A but have all-state players in my other classes, I would give the writers in those other meetings a sheet of paper with my information about other area athletes who should be considered.

Last year, when PCM went 9-2 and reached the second round of the playoffs, I voted in the 2A meeting. Collins-Maxwell/Baxter also has a few all-state worthy kids, too.

Two seasons ago, when Colfax-Mingo won its first playoff game ever and went 8-3, I voted in the Class A meeting and talked about Lynnville-Sully, too.

Most of the meetings have at least five writers who are involved in the voting process. And most of the time, we have writers from several different parts of the state.

That wasn’t good enough for the INA. Besides overall participation, one of the publishers involved in this change told me personally that one of the reasons she wanted it changed was because we didn’t pick very good teams in the past.

I never got the feeling that we blew it that much in the past. We always had coaches in those meetings too and they helped us figure out the teams, too.

I wonder what that publisher is thinking now after what came out this past week. The teams are not very balanced, and those that couldn’t vote before because they didn’t want to drive three hours one way made their voting rights known this time around.

Writers from up in the Dubuque and Sioux City area had more kids than ever on all-state teams. I truly believe they stuffed the ballots this year.

We had 105 voters in all. That’s much more than normal, and we weren’t confined to just one class. So I voted in 8-man, Class A and Class 2A this year.

I was happy for PCM juniors Wes Cummings and Cole Dustin, who were both named third team all-staters. They deserved the all-state honors that they got.

Cummings was an all-state running back last year and didn’t get worse. His numbers weren’t as good but that’s only because starters for PCM barely played into the second half of games.

PCM lost twice this season by a total of three points. But because it didn’t win a playoff game, they didn’t get represented as well. The statistics just weren’t there unfortunately. And when you vote online, you can discuss how good players are and most just go with the statistics they see.

Cummings and Dustin were worthy, but so was wide receiver Preston Van Wyk, who averaged around 30 yards per catch and scored a handful of touchdowns. I was hoping offensive lineman Colton Warrick would get selected. He deserved it.

Unfortunately, I only had one vote.

The thing that stands out to me was that Williamsburg defeated PCM 18-17 in the first round of the playoffs. The Mustangs led 17-6 at halftime but were plagued by turnovers.

You can’t convince me that Williamsburg was that much better than PCM. Williamsburg though reached the state championship game, thus helping them land seven players on the all-state team. Seven. PCM had two and lost by one point and led most of the way.

The talent gap between those two schools wasn’t that big. That’s my first glaring item on the all-state teams in 2A.

I understand that the better a team is, and the further it gets in the postseason, the chances of that team getting more all-staters are greater.

Williamsburg had seven all-staters, Mount Vernon had seven and Waukon had five total and four first-teamers.

PCM has had no trouble in district play the past two seasons. In 2017, PCM had two third-team selections, while district foes Centerville and Central Lee each had one first teamer. That’s not acceptable because neither of those two schools were within 49 of the Mustangs.

When you vote online, it makes it easier to stuff the ballot and vote only players from your area. I think that’s what happened here.

The INA has until March to get things fixed before all-state basketball meetings. The INA Board of Directors will meet with the INA writer’s committee to try to fix this. Not sure how that goes, but I hope we get to at least have something where discussion is part of the process.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@newtondailynews.com

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