The problem with this was the integrity of the teams suffered, and by virtue of that suffering, so did the integrity of the WVSWA. These are historical records, and their integrity is worth preserving. I don't foresee the International Olympic Committee adopting an aluminum medal for fourth-place finishers anytime soon.
The second reason is that there are fewer student-athletes playing football in West Virginia than at any time in the past 60 years. Minor fall sports, particularly soccer, have pulled from its ranks as have greater social and entertainment options. When I began attending selection meetings 15 seasons ago, there were 123 football-playing schools in the state. There are now 116. A mere 20 years ago, there were 134.
To keep honoring an increased number of players from the traditional number while fewer schools and students were participating in the sport had the undeniable effect of watering down the product.
Making young men - and their coaches, families and schools - happy by honoring their hard work is a positive side effect of naming an all-state team, but it is not the reasoning behind compiling such a list. The reason is to honor the best of the best not for their work, but for the results that labor produced.
There are sure to be more than a few who question why this player or that was not named a first-team selection. There always is, and I anticipate those will increase in the next week as subsequent teams are released. Class AA is released Thursday and Class AAA on Sunday.
The lists were compiled during an eight-hour session by eight writers from different newspapers in Wheeling on Nov. 30 after voting took place among roughly 50 writers and more than 90 of the state's head coaches over the previous month. In looking at the lists, I can say that the responding question to every complaint will be, "Who do you take off there to make more room?"
They're that solid, and that's the way an All-State list should look.