The Turnaround – Realignment and scheduling

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Football Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

Lubbock Westerners HelmetI have been asked a lot about how we build our schedules for football and all the other sports here in Texas. After talking with my man, Fish, I figured this would be a good blog topic.

Realignment day, or the day when everyone discovers their new district fate, occurs every two years. It sounds so nice and innocent on the surface. But let me tell you this: realignment day can swallow you up! I’m not kidding when I say this. I learned the hard way here after my first football season.

Usually the first week in February, every other year, all the constituents in your region converge on a central location. The build-up to this day is intense. There are all kinds of projections and predictions. It is crazy! I walked into my first one thinking I had this in the bag. I worked on my schedule for months and didn’t think anything would happen to blow it up. What a mistake!

When the UIL cut the boxes open to release the packets with our new alignments, I was swiftly elbowed and pushed out of the way. Did I mention it was two female administrators that shoved me out of the way?

When those boxes were cut open it was a feeding frenzy. I was bewildered. Once I got my hands on my packet I suddenly realized how realignment day totally blows up all your thoughts and ideas. Two things happened that day that weren’t predicted and it obliterated my non-district schedule.

Luckily for me, my boss, Mark Ball, was with me. David Moody, my associate head coach, was also there and we began the painstaking process of revamping our schedule. We were on the phones for hours. We were running around the building trying to find coaches for games. It was nuts! Once we got it all done, we were the last ones in the building. I will never forget that February morning in 2012.

Once you have your non-district and district schedule set up, you talk to all the schools and set dates and times. Once that is complete, you are contractually locked in for two years, until the next realignment. One thing I really enjoy about Texas is having complete authority over your schedule. It is nice. Nobody tells me who to schedule, non-district speaking.

Our realignment last February was much better for me. We had a war-room set up in my office. I was at the realignment headquarters and my coaches manned my office, waiting from my word to start contacting people. We had phone numbers all over the place. Coaches names from other schools were up on the board. We had the mileage charts up so we knew how far we may have to potentially travel. We took no chances. We were set!

So every two years you hear about realignment. It’s a big deal. Don’t take it lightly, you will get swallowed up! Hope this shed some light on the process in the best high school football state in the country!

Editor’s Note – Texas’ next realignment will occur in February 2016.

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.