Sorting out the structure of a league is simple, right? Not a chance.

You can put as much time and effort into the process as humanly possible and still not make everyone happy. That's the only given.

The latest OCC realignment, approved by school principals in a 26-5 vote Feb. 15, will keep the conference's current five-division format, but the divisions will look almost nothing like they do now.

There's often scuttlebutt about an exodus of schools from the OCC, but that wouldn't be a simple process. Even for larger schools, administrators still must be on the same page in terms of rules and scheduling.

Then there are the smaller schools. For them, issues involving their conference can be even more problematic.

For instance, look at Grandview, which is in Division VI in football but whose enrollment makes it one of the smaller Division III teams in boys and girls basketball.

In the MSL-Ohio Division, the Bobcats competed in basketball this winter against Division I Whitehall, Division II Bexley and London and Division III private schools Columbus Academy and Worthington Christian. London is leaving in June to join the Ohio Heritage Conference and will be replaced in fall 2019 by Buckeye Valley, which has more than twice the enrollment of Grandview in terms of boys (286-135) and girls (286-118).

"I think we're at a huge disadvantage in both size and in public versus private, especially when bringing in a big school like Buckeye Valley," Grandview boys basketball coach Ray Corbett said. "But there's no other place to go.

"If we were to make a change, where would we go? We would have to be driving all over the place to be playing schools our size. Our league is what it is. The good thing is it makes a team well prepared for the postseason."

When the OCC was in the process of finalizing its next realignment, which begins with the 2020-21 school year and lasts through the 2023-24 school year, principals were polled in three categories: geography, enrollment and competitiveness.

OCC commissioner Dave Cecutti said one reason for the realignments of 2016 and 2020 comes from the changing attitudes of the schools. The 2016 realignment added the fifth division.

"In the polling from 2014, the two most mentioned were being geographically close and having fairly equitable enrollment numbers," Cecutti said. "In the most recent survey (taken in 2017 and) used for the 2020 realignment, geography was the same but what spiked was competitive balance. That was really a point of emphasis."

The realigned OCC will have four six-team divisions and one eight-team division. Arguably the most competitive division will feature Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Davidson, Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington.

According to projected enrollment numbers provided to ThisWeek in February, here is how those schools rank: Coffman (3), Orange (7), Davidson (9), Liberty (10), UA (12) and Bradley (20).

Bradley, Canal Winchester, Groveport, New Albany and Westland voted against the realignment.

"Ideally in a division, you're looking to have as many annual rivalries as possible, and that has a lot to do with proximity to the schools that you are playing," Bradley athletics director Cort Hamilton said. "You're not going to please everyone because everyone has their different lenses."

For all intents and purposes, enrollment and competition seem to go hand in hand. The smaller schools believe the larger schools have a distinct advantage in both roster numbers and talent, which is true to an extent.

It often may be the case when looking at the so-called "money sports" such as football and basketball, but New Albany, which is one of the smallest OCC schools in terms of enrollment, has become a power when it comes to sports such as tennis and swimming and diving.

That shouldn't be forgotten, although "football and basketball really do drive the mentality of schools," Cecutti said. "All 28 or 29 sports are important, but it all shakes down to the fact that (football and basketball) get the most attention.

"It's never a perfect model. The end result is not perfect by any means, but it gives everyone a chance to operate in a competitive manner. If you have eight to 12 schools, it's a little easier to keep everyone happy than when you have 32 schools. It's much more difficult because there are more components to work with and districts could be adding more schools in the next eight to 10 years."

That means more realignments -- and debates, grousing and headaches -- could be on the horizon for schools across central Ohio.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen