When it comes to the UIL Realignment, many people love to play the “What if” card before and after the release of the districts. The main goal of the biennial UIL realignment is to maintain competitive balance across the board in accordance to the vast enrollment structure of the state.
Every classification except for Class 6A is split between divisions before the season. Many have asked why Class 6A has yet to split up in divisions before the season. The answer may not be very satisfactory for a select few, but it all boils down to two key elements.
Geography and economics.
Because of the vast range of mileage the state carries geographically and the way the borders shape the state, finding a perfect solution in just about every realignment from top to bottom is virtually impossible. Pairing El Paso with the Panhandle is among the biggest obstacles the UIL undertakes and in this year’s realignment with Class 5A Division I, that obstacle was crystal clear. If El Paso Chapin had not opted up, the District 2 Champion in 5A Division I, would have received a first round bye in the playoffs automatically and would have potentially faced upwards to two or three weeks in between games depending on the schedule draw of the district.
Not to mention, several schools are on a virtual island when it comes to realignment. Taking a look at the Class 6A map, in West Texas, San Angelo Central and Abilene are two that come to mind with that. In East Texas, Tyler Lee is the lone suspect. In the Central Texas region, you have Bryan. In the southern part of the state, Eagle Pass, Del Rio and the Laredo schools have that extensive travel looming in every alignment.
Every realignment, you see and hear the gripes and grumbles from the San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley schools on going to Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio. Occasionally, depending on how the alignment is focused, the Fort Worth area schools find a way to gripe about having to expand the travel budget.
Keep in mind, traveling on a semi-weekly basis can get very expensive. We often hear the excuse from the urban and city schools that the West Texas schools are used to it. But they often forget, money doesn’t grow on trees and when you add to the travel budget, you take it away from another resource that could be valuable in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the education of the kids.
The goal of realignment is not just competitive balance, it is making sure things geographically and economically make sense. The eyes of Texas this year were squarely on the El Paso area when it came to the shaping of 5A Division I. One drastic move in one region, causes a chain reaction for the rest.
Why did El Paso Chapin opting up in 5A Division I matter so much? Geography and Economics. Had they not opted up, a couple of things could have happened. The three El Paso schools would have most likely would have a struggle with scheduling games to fill their stadiums. Games lost equals lost revenue even for the less popular sports such as wrestling, soccer, tennis, cross country, lacrosse and golf. That would also result in revenue lost for the Panhandle schools in the most prime part of the schedule. The playoffs. Another side of things, had the El Paso schools been paired with the Amarillo and Lubbock schools in district play, the travel budgets would have skyrocketed to all-time highs.
The El Paso 5A Division I chaos, was the exact reason why Class 6A still has yet to make its move to split off into divisions before the season and it is a direct result of a debate that has many wondering if Class 5A should revert back to a 32 district format instead of the 16 district divisional split.
Still wonder what Class 6A would look like under the two-division split? We have done that work for you with this year’s alignment. A couple of notes, Dallas Jesuit and Strake Jesuit, under this alignment, would be assigned to the Division I structure under the agreement made by the UIL.
Bottom 5 schools by enrollment in Division I:
Sheldon King (2773), Rockwall (2778), Southlake Carroll (2786), RR Stony Point (2789), Houston Chavez (2792)
Top 5 schools by enrollment in Division II:
Lake Highlands (2772), Wolfforth Frenship (2772), Richardson (2771), Austin Akins (2770.5), Edinburg North (2763)
As you may notice, had we assigned Wolfforth Frenship to Division I, the alignment would be much more radical and much more complicated. With only one eligible Division I El Paso school, the same exact scenario that played out in the actual alignment of 5A Division I, would have been a major issue in the hypothetical 6A Division I. Even in our hypothetical 6A Division II alignment, Wolfforth Frenship still creates a major travel issue for DFW area schools. Much like Frenship, a trio of teams would likely be forced to travel as Belton, Killeen Ellison and Killeen Harker Heights look for a district home.
Tyler Lee in Class 6A Division II, in a hypothetical set up, would likely have to travel to Arlington and Irving just for a district game. Under both alignments, the DFW Metroplex would most likely have just four districts in each division. And Laredo Nixon, would be the lone Laredo school in 6A Division II, which could result in an opt-up to 6A Division I. With this plan, Nixon would be heading to the RGV to play district games.
Class 6A Division I
Class 6A Division II