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Realignment process starting

GBL on agenda for MIAA panel

Email|Print| Text size + By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 10, 2008

Revere and Peabody left for the Northeastern Conference. Waltham and Arlington are skipping out this fall for the Dual County League. With rumors of Malden and Medford leaving, the Greater Boston League could drop to just three teams. Greater Boston? Try Big Three North - with Everett, Somerville, and Cambridge.

The MIAA football committee meets tomorrow in Franklin to start the discussion on realignment, which occurs every four years. The potential change to the Greater Boston League, as well as other leagues, is one of 15 items on the agenda.

This realignment is at the starting line of a process that won't take effect until 2009. Several leagues, including the Dual County, have plans to split into two divisions.

The new trend is tiers, mostly because having two divisions of six means having two playoff berths. The problem is that it makes for a mad dash to get to 12 teams. The Dual County League is looking for approval tomorrow to split. A league needs at least six teams to be eligible for the Super Bowls.

But the problem in adding teams is that they have to come from somewhere, which is what put the GBL in its predicament. Four teams jumped ship in the past three years, and by fall, the GBL will essentially be on life support. The five teams still in the league (if Medford and Malden remain) have two choices: stay and try to lure other teams or explore going to new leagues.

"Loyalty will always be No. 1," Medford athletic director Robert Maloney said. "Medford's first goal is to try to stay loyal with the GBL and try to stay together. We'll see what happens."

Since his school first came up in the rumor mill, Malden athletic director Mike Dube has been cautious in conversations. He's willing to acknowledge that Malden could be leaving but not much more.

"We have, as a community and as a league, several initiatives that are going on right now," he said. "We're exploring everything at this point. There's one with the Middlesex League. There's one with the Northeastern Conference.

"We had one in the past that didn't go through with Chelsea. There's several that are on the table right now.

"We looked at a conferencing thing with the DCL and the Middlesex . . . but that didn't really get very far."

The history of the GBL stretches back decades, and Dube doesn't want to jeopardize it, but he does think Malden and every other school in the league has to keep its best interests in mind.

"We're just basically looking at other opportunities out there to either expand or solidify our league," he said. "We've lost four teams. We can't just sit back and be reactive. We have to be proactive. So that's what we're trying to do.

"And not just Medford or Malden, but all the schools in the GBL are trying to be proactive."

For most of the winter, the rumor mill swirled around Malden and Medford and the leagues Dube mentioned.

The situation with the Middlesex League was convoluted.

On one side, Malden and Medford officials say they had a plan in place and all they needed was the OK from the Middlesex League. On the other, Middlesex League officials say there was never anything close to a formal meeting about adding teams.

"The best these things can be described as are informal discussions," said Bob Norton, Woburn principal and Football Committee chairman. "We're a long way from bringing in another team."

Dube said the Merrimack Valley is an option, but things aren't that far along. The MVC has shown interest, he said, but Malden and Medford have not formally applied.

Medford's Maloney said both schools received unanimous consent to go to the Merrimack Valley from the league's ADs and principals, but they haven't moved on it just yet.

"We've been invited to go," he said. "We've gone through the process. The city of Medford - I'll speak for Medford - is not ready to make the decision to go to Merrimack Valley."

The MIAA has no control over the way teams decide to move from conference to conference.

"The MIAA has nothing to do with it," Norton said. "The leagues do what they do. When the leagues are set and the MIAA does the realignment, the MIAA takes into consideration which leagues are out there."

Expect a realignment committee to be formed tomorrow. Expect a long process. Realignment is never simple.

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