COLUMN: Here’s a tip for the GHSA: Keep it simple

Herald High School Writer Mike Phillips

Herald High School Writer Mike Phillips

I was just wondering if there is another tournament in the world — not Georgia, not the U.S., but the world — where they take the time and energy to seed the teams in the tournament, and then tell the top-seeded team in the tournament it is not the home team.

I don’t care if it’s 6-year-old pee-wee ball or if the Thunder play the Heat in the NBA Finals, the top-seed gets to be the home team.

But the GHSA doesn’t work that way.

Just ask the girls on the Randolph-Clay basketball team that had to wear Jones County purple and gold uniforms in the state title game against Gordon Lee. The name of their team is the Lady Red Devils.

Embarrassing? Way, way, way beyond that.

It was sad.

I’m watching those kids warm up before the game in those L.A. Lakers colors and couldn’t believe my eyes. Imagine, getting to your dream game, the state title game, and then not being able to wear your school’s colors. Sad, real sad.

Randolph-Clay, the No. 1-ranked team in the state and top-seeded team in the Class A public school girls state tournament, brought its home jerseys and then had to scramble to get other jerseys because the GHSA made Gordon Lee, the No. 6 seed in the tournament, the home team. Former R-C girls coach James Bland is now retired and has connections with Jones County. Bland made arrangements to have Jones County’s purple and gold jerseys rushed to the Macon Centreplex in time for the state final game.


Yep, that’s what happened on Thursday. Honest, you can’t make this stuff up. It’s that ridiculous. If this were a Hollywood script, the movie would never be made. The studio executives would take one look at this script and throw it out. “Nope,” they would say. “This is just too stupid. You’re telling me the top seed is not the home team? No one will ever believe it.”

Whoever made the bracket for the GHSA that made the lower seeded team the home team in the title game should be fired. Not tomorrow, but today. Call him right now and fire him.

Tell him there was some fine print at the bottom of the bracket that says if you’re an idiot when you create the bracket, you’re fired.

What are you thinking? Common sense and every scrap of logic known to mankind says the top-seed is the home team. So you make out the bracket and think, “Oh, I got a whacky idea that will be fun, let’s just flip everything in the title game.’’

Now we’re having fun … I can’t stop laughing

Yes, Randolph-Clay should have read the fine print and known to bring the road uniforms or at least brought both sets of uniforms just in case.

Here’s one of the problems. This was all brand new. Unlike all the other classifications in the GHSA, which now has six, the teams in Class A were split into separate private school and public school state tournaments this year.

Unlike everyone else in Georgia, the Class A teams did not qualify for the state tournament by finishing in the top four in their region. Nope, the only way to get in was to either win your region title or be in the top 16 in the state. And how do you do that? Well, they used an elaborate system of power points and ranked every team — boys and girls, public and private — in the GHSA.

They ranked them with the promise that when the state tournament arrived, the bracket would be set up with higher seeds playing lower seeds with the higher seeded team being the home team.

When the first power rankings were released the Randolph-Clay girls were ranked No. 1 in the state public school rankings. They never moved. They won 19 in a row and stayed at the top, and thought they had earned (note the word “earned” here) the right to be the top-seeded team and home team throughout the state tournament.

Yes, the coach should have read the fine print about the bracket flip in the title game, and yes the coach should have brought two sets of jerseys. She was crazy enough to think the No. 1 team would automatically be the home team in the title game.

How absurd? Of course, the GHSA would flip the bracket in the title game.

It’s this simple: If you need an attorney to read the fine print on a high school tournament bracket what you really need is someone else creating the bracket.

A similar fiasco happened last year when Albany High’s boys team showed up in Savannah with home jerseys to play Vidalia in the Class AA Elite 8 round of the state tournament and found out Vidalia was the home team. There were no seedings involved, but the bracket indicated the team listed at the top would be the home team throughout the tournament and Albany, which won Region 1-AA, was at the top. Well, the fine print pointed out that the top team would be the home team until the Elite 8, and at that point the bracket would be flipped and the bottom team would be the home team.

Again, it’s just too much fun to flip the bracket.

You only had more than 300 teams traveling all over the state in five classifications last year playing in do-or-die games in the tournament, so why not make the bracket complicated with a twist here and there about who is home and who is away?

Here’s a tip to the GHSA. Keep it simple.

And here’s my advice to all the schools in Southwest Georgia. When you are headed to a neutral site in the playoffs, be sure to bring your home uniforms, your road uniforms and set of uniforms with checkered shorts and striped jerseys just in case.

I’ve been told that playing in purple and gold jerseys instead of their familiar home jerseys had nothing to do with Randolph-Clay losing to Gordon Lee, 61-56.

Do you have children? Ever been around 16- and 17-year-old kids?

You’re telling me taking a group of young girls (two of the starters on this team are 15 and 14) and putting them in the state final in the biggest arena they have ever played in with everything on the line, and then telling them at the last moment they have to wear Jones County purple jerseys instead of the ones they have worn all year won’t have any effect on them?

Of course it won’t.


bubbasmithredneck 2 years, 8 months ago

Good story Mike!!!! I agree that the GHSA has done some stupid things.There is no way on earth a number one seed in a state tournament should be a "visitor".....its just dumb!!! Who came up with this stupidity?


MisterEd 2 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps reading comprehension ain't one of your strong points either, Mike. Don't blame the GHSA for the inability of Randoph-Clay and their athletic department to follow instructions. The following is borrowed from another source about this very topic......

Here are the GHSA's instructions to playoff teams:


Here is the quote from the document on PAGE 1:

BRACKET – The team listed on the bottom of the respective bracket will be the "Home Team" and wear white jerseys. The teams listed on the top of the respective bracket will be the "Visiting Team" and wear dark jerseys

Here's the bracket:


I don't have any kids that play. I'm not a coach. It took me 2 minutes to find this without knowing exactly where it was located. If you go to GHSA.net, click Sporting Activities, Basketball in the middle of the page is the document I linked above called "Important Team Instructions for State Basketball Tournament". Now here's the kicker: The first paragraph of this document says this:

"Please read the "General Instructions" very carefully. Each year we have problems arise because the coaches/team representatives did not follow the instructions. Pay particular attention to the State Tournament bracket regarding the issue of which uniform your team should be wearing each game. "

Finally, it's my understanding that Gordon Lee offered to wear their navy uniforms (they brought both just in case, what a concept) but the GHSA did not accept that offer.

I know you're just pandering to the local readers, but this is lame.


Beautiful_Monte 2 years, 8 months ago

I agree with everything MisterEd said.

I would like to add that Mr. Phillips' attempt to blame R-C's loss on the color of the uniforms is a slap in the face to Gordon Lee's players and coaches, who pulled the biggest upset of the weekend by defeating a team that the Herald had already crowned as the state champion.

Boo-yah, indeed.


Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. It's been part of humanity since day 1. Mike, this was a make-up article for daring to suggest that the coach (again THIS year) did not know how to read a bracket or even plain English for that matter. Mike, don't be that guy. Just tell it like it is and let the chips fall. All that's left is the Race Card.


bubbasmithredneck 2 years, 8 months ago

Good Story Mike...thanks for exposing the stupid rules of the GHSA!!! (ignore Sister Ruby and her son for they know not what they say)


noone 2 years, 8 months ago

Wait a minute. What year is this? I coach MIDDLE SCHOOL basketball and every school in our county has 1 set of REVERSABLE jerseys. Home white on one side and away colors on the other. Again, this is middle school. I would think high school would have this "luxury."

With that being said, they should have planned better and brought both sets and if it is true and the other team did offer to wear their away jersey and the GHSA said no? That is ridicilous on their part. They (the GHSA) just wanted to make a point and wanted to make it at the worst time possible.


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