Above this column is the recap of the best stories of the 2012 year in sports. It's filled with everything from state champions to questions of what could have been.
A fun part of the end of the year is wondering about what could happen in 2013. No one can tell the future, and the Tribune Sports Department crystal ball is currently out of order. However, these are a few stories that could very well dominate water cooler conversations and headlines over the next 12 months.
The Super Division in football:?It was approved in April that the Ohio High School Athletic Association will be adding a seventh division to football for this coming year. The plan will take the top 10-percent of schools based on enrollment in Division I, with the remaining 644 schools divided evenly among the next six divisions. This will leave 72 schools in Division I with the other six divisions averaging approximately 108 schools. Each of the seven divisions will continue to qualify 32 teams to the tournament - eight per region.
By the current numbers and estimations, Warren G. Harding, Austintown Fitch and Boardman will all stay in Division I and will be a part of the "Super Division." However, the schools would be on the lower end as it looks like the cut off will be around the 600 mark. All three schools, based on the 2010 figures, are all in the 600 range of boys enrollment.
What makes this an interesting story is how the OHSAA is going to accommodate another state tournament at Canton's Fawcett Stadium or at Massillon's Paul Brown Stadium. The current set up is that Divisions II, IV and VI are played on Friday, while the other three are played on Saturday. It will be tough to fit another game into Saturday, so the state finals might need to extend to a three-day weekend.
Public vs. Private:?For the third time since 1975, the OHSAA will be voting on a referendum to create a separate tournament for public and private schools. The organization voted down similar actions in 1978 and 1994.
The referendum will be voted on in May with each schools high school principal getting one vote. If approved, the action would go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.
This is a debate that will be quite interesting in the coming months, as the Mahoning Valley will be at the center of this quandary. With the Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney football teams competing on a regular basis with schools that are much larger than their enrollment - and many times winning those contests - it will be interesting to see how the vote plays out and what the local reactions will be. Expect this to be a topic to rule the spring/summer months - especially if it passes.
YSU football:?This year was supposed to be the year the Penguins took the big step forward - the step back to the FCS playoffs and returning Penguin football to the glory days. Unfortunately, the Penguins missed the playoffs and left many wondering what direction the program was going.
YSU coach Eric Wolford, who will be entering his fourth year as coach, has to get this program to the playoffs this year. The playoff field is expanding to 24 teams and these players have now been with Wolford for three full seasons. The 2013 season is make-or-break for the Penguins.
These are just a few of the stories that should capture headlines this season. And as year's past have shown, there will be many others that no one would or could predict.