OK, I gave the new playoff format for high school basketball a chance.
Even after watching the boys' team from Madonna, which had lost earlier in tournament action, make that improbable run to capture the state Class A crown last year, I was willing to accept that "the powers that be" understood the average fan's desire to see the best tournament possible.
But, after two weeks of girls' postseason action and the start of the boys' sectionals this week, I've come to the conclusion that the changes made by the Secondary School Activities Commission, as well as its hand-picked committee, were no more than a smoke screen that continues to allow the long-standing practice of "regional representation" over the fan's desire to see the best possible eight teams in each classification when they travel to the state's capital for the state.
The examples of its failure are many.
One only has to look at the Region I, Class A tournament to see how the newest system fails. How can anybody agree that having six of the top 10 ranked teams in a division, knowing that four will fail in their attempts to reach the state tournament, is good for the sport?
Still not convinced?
Well travel down to Westside High School this week and watch either the top-ranked Class AA Renegades or the three-time defending state champion Bobcats from Summers County see their season end a week earlier than it should.
What basketball fan wouldn't rather see that matchup in the title game on Championship Saturday at the Civic Center?
Locally, just ask the basketball fans at Parkersburg South how they feel about a system that has both their girls' and boys' teams traveling to George Washington in sectional round action even though the girls' team swept the Kanawha County Patriots during the regular season while the boys' earned a split and had developed a resume that should have given them a higher seed in the postseason tournament.
But, the unfairness of the system isn't just felt in this area, but statewide. And, if you think it is bad this year, wait until the final regional alignments are announced for next year's postseason tournaments.
There is a solution, however. One that has been discussed by coaches around the Mountain State. One that has even been brought to the attention of the SSAC.
Problem is it does not honor the traditional "regional representation format" that some school administrators feel is the only way that they can get their school to the Civic Center.
It involves advancing the top 32 teams in each class into the postseason and ranking them from top to bottom. The first week would see No. 32 playing at No. 1, No. 31 playing at No. 2 and so on and so forth. Just like in football, the team with the higher seed would pick the site with the lower seed picking the day and time.
Games would be played on Friday night, Saturday afternoon or Saturday night -just like in football.
The second week of the postseason would see the 16 remaining teams following the same format with No. 16 playing at No. 1 with the others following suit.
Play-in games could be developed if the SSAC wanted to ensure that all teams in a classification had a chance to advance to postseason play or those teams that failed to make the field of 32 could be invited to participate in a separate tournament.
Will this new system guarantee that the best eight teams make it to Charleston? Probably not. There will always be upsets in sports. But, the current system is failing.
And, declining attendance during the state tournament's first two days prove that fans aren't willing to give up their hard-earned money to watch a watered-down event that cares more about "regional representation" than it does about providing the "best" competition possible.