Big 8 will have eight teams for football

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton football coach Jason Pertzborn (left) is excited about having two non-conference games beginning in 2020./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control passed a statewide football-only conference realignment proposal on April 17.

That means Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker will exit the Big Eight Conference in 2020. Those two schools will become part of the Badger Large Conference, and the Big Eight will again have a true eight teams.

“I’ve been under the assumption for like a year now it would pass,” Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn said. “Everybody was planning for it, expecting it.”

The Board unanimously approved its final consideration of the football-only conference proposal crafted by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. First approval of the plan was granted by the Board with a 9-2 vote at its meeting in March.

Membership rules required a 40-day window for schools involved in realignment plans to appeal the first consideration of the Board before it took final action. Fifteen schools filed concerns or appeals of the initial vote by the April 10 deadline and were presented to the Board.

The plan gives uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and makes certain programs have enough conference games for playoff qualification.

“As I indicated when the Board gave its initial support of the plan, this was an enormous undertaking and a groundbreaking venture for the WIAA,” Executive Director Dave Anderson said. “This was a good-faith effort, and there was openness to alternative ideas, ‘big-picture’ thinking, and widespread acceptance of the final decision. It’s also important to convey that at any time there is 100 percent agreement of all impacted members, relief can be fast-tracked.”

With just eight teams in the Big Eight again, the Cardinals needed to find two non-conference opponents to complete their nine-game schedule. Pertzborn has been actively talking with several teams across the state, and Middleton recently agreed to home and home series with Waunakee and Bay Port in 2020 and 2021.

“I wanted to dance early to make sure we weren’t going to be left without a chair,” Pertzborn said, alluding to the fact several teams are likely to be scrambling to fill their non-conference schedules.

Pertzborn certainly wasn’t taking the cupcake route with Middleton’s non-conference slate.

Waunakee has played in eight state championship games in Division 2 and 3 this century, going 5-3 in those contests.

Bay Port, a Division 1 power, has been to the playoffs every season since 2001, reaching the state semifinals three times.

“We wanted to play the best and I think we’re going to do that,” Pertzborn said. “There should be a real buzz about these games.”


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