The “new” SBC was created three years ago for a number of reasons — the biggest simply survival for two of the area’s proudest leagues.
The Northern Ohio League, which at one time was the longest running league in the state with the same teams, was falling apart. The Sandusky Bay Conference, which at one time may have been one of the best mid-sized league in the state in terms of competition and travel, was starting to face a similar reality.
The SBC’s problem was competition. The league’s two smallest schools, Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic and Margaretta, were too small, while the league’s two biggest schools, Clyde and Perkins, were too big. That left Edison, Huron, Port Clinton and Oak Harbor stuck in the middle.
The new SBC was created to keep everybody happy.
During football season, Clyde and Perkins now make up the Lake Division with the remaining NOL teams — Norwalk, Sandusky, Bellevue and Tiffin Columbian.
Edison, Huron, Port Clinton and Oak Harbor are now teamed with Vermilion and Willard to make up the Bay Division.
That leaves SMCC and Margaretta in the River Division with Lakota, Gibsonburg, Hopewell-Loudon, Danbury, Tiffin Calvert and Fremont St. Joseph.
That’s a lot of teams — 20 to be exact. It’s hard enough to run an eight-team league, let alone 20.
It’s a great league with a lot less travel — for league games.
All of the old-time NOL fans will remember what travel was like with Bucyrus, Upper Sandusky, Galion and Shelby on the schedule.
Think about stopping for dinner on your way to Upper Sandusky. The only restaurant between here and there is Fatheads in Republic. If you miss that, you can always stop at the drive-thru in Sycamore for a pop and a bag of chips.
If you are heading from Norwalk to Galion or Shelby, you can always stop at the gas station in New Haven and get a $5 footlong sub. And Bucyrus? It’s Attica or bust.
A big problem with the league is a lack of teams in the Lake and Bay divisions. Each has six teams, which leaves five non-conference games to start off the football season. That has created a lot of travel and hard feelings.
Let’s clear this up right now. Nobody in the Bay Division should have to play teams in the Lake. Teams in the Bay are in no position to play up — that’s why the SBC broke up in the first place.
It’s up to the Lake teams to potentially find a couple of new dance partners. Should it be Fremont Ross? That’s a decision administrators have to make. And then you have to find another team.
It’s probably time for members of the Lake Division to pull out and form their own league. That would mean Clyde and Perkins have to give up on the SBC, but that would be the best for everybody. Both from a competition standpoint, and to eliminate any hard feelings that have been created over the past few years.
Norwalk, Bellevue, Tiffin Columbian, Sandusky, Perkins and Clyde need to break free and move forward.
It has been a good run, but you can’t put 20 principals in the same room and get anything done. What Norwalk and Sandusky need is not the same as what SMCC and Danbury need.
It’s time to pull the plug.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]