Conference makeups still up in the air By ROB OESTERLEEmailSept. 6, 2017 Another week, another chapter in the never-ending series of "As the Conference Turns." [Rob Oesterle]For much of the summer, there was a lot of speculation that Morris would leave the Northern Illinois Big 12 and join the Interstate Eight, since Seneca was leaving the I-8 to join up with the Sangamon Valley Conference for football and wrestling and the Tri-County Conference for all other sports and activities. But, when push came to shove and it was time for the 11 remaining Interstate Eight schools to vote on whether or not Morris would become a new member, the vote was 7-4 against. [Rob Oesterle]That decision prompted seven Interstate Eight schools - Coal City, Lisle, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Manteno, Herscher and Peotone - to inform Streator, Sandwich, Plano and Westmont that they will be exploring other conference options. What the first seven will do as far as other conference options is up in the air. [Rob Oesterle]Do they bring in another school to make it an even number of eight? That's one possibility. Another is to seek out three more schools in order to make football scheduling a non-factor. In a 10-team conference, each school plays each other school in the conference and - bingo - the nine weeks of the football schedule are filled. No looking high and low for non-conference schools with open dates and the desire to play. [Dan Voitik]Given that three of the I-8 schools on the outside - Streator, Sandwich and Plano - are three of the largest enrollments in the conference, it seems that Morris won't be nearly as good a fit with the seven exploring other options. Geographically, Morris is a great fit. Enrollment-wise, not so much. [Dan Voitik]Meanwhile, Morris is content with its current conference. Sure, there are some issues, such as a few long trips on school nights, but overall, the administration is fine with remaining in the NIB 12. [Dan Voitik]That's not to say that if another offer came their way, they wouldn't take a look. They owe it to their students to do what is best for them in all aspects. [Rob Oesterle]And that is what all of this boils down to. What is best for the students. People in the community may want to see a conference shift, which would either create or renew rivalries. But if it isn't the best thing for the kids that attend the school, it's not going to happen. [Rob Oesterle]There are bound to be more developments on all sides over the next months. Stay tuned. • Rob Oesterle is the senior sports writer for the Morris Herald-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.