CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of Mike Hayden's pet projects before he stepped down as the executive director of the SSAC in 2007 was to hold all the football playoff semifinal games on artificial turf fields.
For whatever reason, that idea never came to fruition, but it could be revisited next month when the SSAC's football committee members hold their next meeting.
"It has been discussed quite a bit,'' said Gary Ray, the current SSAC executive director.
"I'm kind of torn between the fact we need to have the semifinals on the best fields possible but, by the same token, we have a lot of schools who work extremely hard to get their fields up to standards so they can host.''
As of now, all playoff games except the three championships are held on approved home field locations. If the higher-seeded team's own field doesn't meet specifications, it gets to choose a nearby field that is approved.
Three of the six semifinal round games this year were played on grass - one Class AA game (Robert C. Byrd at Wayne) and both Class A games (Madonna at Tucker County, Wahama at Magnolia).
No real problems were reported with the playing surfaces in those games, although the one at Tucker was played in snow and some mud. Ray attended that game, but didn't think there were any problems with the field conditions.
"What a neat experience for those kids, playing in the snow,'' Ray said. "Was it a turf field? No. Did the field impact the outcome? I can't say it did or didn't. It went two overtimes. The field was in pretty good shape. They did a nice job with it.
"Some of the smaller schools work extremely hard to upgrade their facilities the best they can. People have pride in their communities, which gives you two sides to look at - good people who work extra hard to have their teams play there. Again, that's one of the things we'll discuss with our committee. We'll look at all angles of it, and go from there. We'll continue to consider and look at all aspects of what we need to do with the playoffs. I know this is discussed every year, and I'm sure it'll be on the table for discussion.''
Listed as members of the football coaches committee on the SSAC website are Sean Biser (Keyser), Don Dellinger (Hedgesville), Jim Frashier (Ripley), Tom Harmon (Wayne), Benny Hopkins (Valley Fayette), Brad Jett (South Harrison), Eric Meeks (Weir), Gene Morris (Nicholas County) and Jodi Mote (St. Marys).