That's especially challenging in south Alabama, which is much more rural in nature with schools more spread out from each other.
“South Alabama has always been a problem [in re-classification] because it's so rural,” Savarese said.
The adjustments work better in some regions and classes than others. For instance, the new Class 6A Region 6 includes seven teams, all from within Jefferson County. But Class 3A Region 3 is much more spread out, from newly-promoted Fultondale in the northwest end to Beulah on the extreme east end.
One of the primary reasons for the expansion, though, came down to a large disparity in the sizes of schools in the old Class 6A, from the nearly 2,000 students at Hoover down to the roughly 700 at schools like Hueytown and Gardendale.
Savarese said that he and his staff studied numerous other states and how they handled similar problems. They even looked briefly at a “success-based” classification system in use by some states, where schools move up or down by how well they perform on the field of play — somewhat similar to the promotion and relegation system used in soccer leagues across the globe. “But we quickly determined that simply wasn't right for Alabama,” he said.
Savarese added that the AHSAA will see roughly $500,000 in additional revenue from the expanded championships, with about $300,000 of that coming from football alone.
The Central Board made no changes in the private-school multiplier, used by the AHSAA to adjust for the extra freedom such schools have in getting athletes to come from other areas. The AHSAA multiplies the enrollment number by 1.35 for classification purposes, which has the effect of moving many private schools up a class.