A Look at the Big 33's Future

HERSHEY - Ohio's Big 33 coach, Paul Farrah, has a message for anyone from Pennsylvania that would listen. He wants Ohio to remain involved in the Big 33, as long as Pennsylvania will have them as an opponent.

The 2006 version of the all-star gamed billed as the "Super Bowl of high school all-star games," could mark the final time Ohio takes part in the event.

With the NCAA's decision to allow early enrollment for football players, the Big 33 game must be concluded by June 20 at the latest. Any later date would prevent blue chip prospects like Pat Devlin and Thad Gibson from participating in future years.

It certainly would eliminate any chance of landing starts like Ted Ginn Jr. in future years as well.

So once again, the Big 33 finds itself at a crossroads. This year's game is viewed as a "one year experiment," according to Big 33 chairman Mickey Minnich. But Minnich is faced with a tough decision after Saturday, especially with the 50th anniversary of the game next summer. Maryland has told Minnich they would like to get involved in the game again and reportedly, both Virginia and Michigan have also expressed interest in playing Pennsylvania in future years.

"We were put in a tough spot," Farrah said. "The Big 33 moved it onto the same date as our game (North/South) and only gave us six months to get everything turned around. Our point of view, we want to keep this game going. We're 3,000 coaches strong, they all voted unanimously in the 17 districts (to stay involved) and what it comes down to is when this game is done, myself being the President (of the Ohio Football Coaches Association), we want to sit down and see how we can do things better."

"I think both groups need to get together and iron out differences," said Pennsylvania head coach Mark Schmidt. "Ohio is a great guest of our state, they come ready to go and Pennsylvania-Ohio has a great ring to it."

"The point is, when you give us only six months, you throw everything up in the wind and you see where it goes," Farrah added.

Schmidt and Minnich both believe that should a new opponent be named, it should come from a Big Ten state given the ties to the conference because of Penn State. The PSFCA will meet in Altoona next week before the annual East-West all-star game to figure out plans for next year's contest. Schmidt said the committee hopes to have a plan in place after that meeting.

It is virtually impossible for the Big 33 to move the game to any later date in June unless they want to miss out on top prospects from both states. Five of Ohio's top players are not involved in either the Big 33 or North-South contest because of early enrollment.

One possible move could be to play the North-South game earlier in the month of June, but that's a move that Farrah doesn't seen coming.

"It's in their ballpark," Farrah said. "Ohio wants to play this game and if this game is not played it is because of Pennsylvania. We voted 17-0 (in favor of playing). It's going to come down to Pennsylvania. We hope that they want to keep playing us. It's a great game, our kids love it, our coaches love it, you get so many people to come to this game from Ohio and we hope it keeps going because we're really excited about it."


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