‘Week Zero’ Used to Create Confusion on Tennessee High School Football Schedule

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Can you imagine taking a new job, and you ask the boss, when do I start?
He says week zero.
Come again.
Week zero.
What is that?
Exactly.What is that? Well week zero used to be apart of the Tennessee high school football schedule.
The season obviously kicked week one, but lo and behold, there were games the week before played on week zero.

It wasn’t some sort of crazy leap year that gave us week zero. It was simply a need for schedule flexability.
Said TSSAA assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie:”A lot of schools had trouble getting their tenth game, and so we had a handful of schools at the beginning started asking for an exception. Look, we’ve only got nine games. The only way we can get this tenth game is if we play the week before week one. Finally it just got to the point to where a name was just given to it. It’s like well, there has always been week one through ten, and so we’ll just call it week zero.”
And that’s when the fun began.
Said East Ridge head coach Tim James:”It confused the dickens out of everybody. What week is this? Week one? Week zero? Week eleven? What is this?”
Said Gillespie:”I mean I’m serious. I really had people that would just get onto us. That’s stupid. Why is it week zero? I mean you could easily just call it week negative one.”
Said former Boyd Buchanan and current East Hamilton head coach Grant Reynolds:”I think at first there was probably a little confusion with the fans looking at the schedule. You know a lot of the questions we had were are we playing eleven games or ten games? We were like no, we’re still playing a ten game regular season. It’s just we are going to have a bye week now. This zero week is going to start us off.”
Funny name aside, Tim James was always a fan of the week zero concept.
Said James:”You know to be honest with you, we played week zero almost every year that it was available.”
Said Reynolds:”Added a zero week. Ended up being a pretty good thing because you could have an off week or a bye week during the regular season.”
Said James:”If you’re playing somebody week two or actually week one. Shoot. Here we go with the confusion. If you play week zero, and then you play a team week one that hasn’t had a game, you’re ahead of the curve.”
Long live week zero.
Said Gillespie:”Well it got to the point where there were so many schools that scheduled it that week zero in essence became week one. And then finally the board, I mean it didn’t change anything, but they said all right. Now we are going to call it week one and the last week is week eleven. And for some reason people became happy about that.”

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.