Next week, CIF commissioners are scheduled to meet to look at the proposal for a 13-division bowl game system. We’ve been hearing about it for more than a year and have mixed reaction.
For our own proposal about having a CIF Open Division state semifinal doubleheader, CLICK HERE.
For a simulation we did last year based on results from the 2012 season in which we gave each team a regional bowl game, CLICK HERE.
More teams definitely should be getting a bowl game and we get it that the commissioners hate having to vote to end a team’s season. Still, after running a simulation of the plan, it is a watered-down format and there will be a lot of divisional CIF state champions of the future that just aren’t going be very good teams compared to the ones that have won them in the past.
Here are five burning questions we have for those that are backing the 13-division format:
1. How will all of the various four-team brackets be determined and will they be pre-determined as they are now?
If you were to run a simulation of this new 13-bracket system that the CIF is likely going to pass in January, you see there will be several divisions matching teams such as L.A. City Division II, San Diego Division III, Southern Section Mid-Valley and Central Section Division IV, etc., etc. Sure, it’s not going to be hard for the current teams in Division IA to stay the same, but it may be even more difficult for the CIF commissioners to meet every year and choose which teams are going to be in which games.
Having it done before the season starts might not be a good idea, either. Just ask San Diego about how it worked out to pre-determine its Open Division.
It seems the middle ground would be for eight section champions to be pre-determined for each division (2A, 2AA, etc) and then give the commissioners the leeway to move those eight teams around based on competitive factors.
2. Will there be a CIF state football champion that doesn’t have to worry about a team north of Fresno?
Unless we can’t read a map or can’t count, this is definitely going to happen. There are just that many more section champions from the South (Central, L.A. City, San Diego, Southern) than there are from the North (Northern, North Coast, Central Coast, Sac-Joaquin, San Francisco, Oakland).
There will just have to be a four-team bracket or two in which the “state champion” will come from among a group of teams that doesn’t include any from the current sections that are in the North.
The Central Section moving to the North evens out the number of section champions, but there’s still probably going to be at least one or perhaps two CIF state bowl champions in the new format that will be winning a bracket that will contain no teams from the current sections that are classified as the North.
3. How will consolation winners of a section’s Open Division playoffs be handled?
In addition to guaranteeing every section champion will get a bowl game, the CIF’s current proposal is also going to give the sections more freedom to decide which teams to send.
This is why the CIF Central Coast Section voted just this week to put in a consolation round for its own Open Division even though it would have no impact on this year’s bowl games.
“The CCS has elected to give the consolation format a dry run in case tweaks are needed if/when the regional games do expand,” wrote Darren Sabedra of the San Jose Mercury-News.
San Diego is the only other section in the state currently with an Open Division for football and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there is a consolation round added there as well.
And if a consolation round winner from an Open Division could advance to a regional bowl game, it then makes perfect sense for the CIF North Coast Section to go to an Open Division and give some of the teams there that have been in De La Salle’s shadow for so long a chance to step out into the limelight.
4. With 13 state champions and 48 teams involved in the CIF bowl games, isn’t there still going to be teams left out?
Again, just counting up the teams this year, there are 51 that will be eligible by winning a section title. Throw in any Open Division consolation winners from the CCS and San Diego and that’s 53. Either some teams still are going to be left out or there will be more divisions than 13.
Going to a four-team Open Division bracket would bring the total to 50 and going to a four-team Open Division small school bracket would bring it to 52.
Another way to get it down to 48 would be to have a couple of play-in games, such as San Francisco vs. Oakland or San Diego D5 vs. Central D6. There also could be a couple of very small school section champions (like you see in the CIF Northern Section) that will have no problem in many years not going to a bowl game at all.
5. How will all of these extra bowl games impact the state rankings?
More games always provides more results to base the rankings on and that’s a good thing.
However, if you are interested in seeing the best play the best, this new system is going to make that harder to happen, not easier.
It would be as if the NCAA passed a new college bowl system in which it still had the two finalists at the end but instead of a semifinal (like the ones starting this year) plus several other major bowl games we’d have one Super Bowl, one other major bowl game and then a bunch of Poinsettia Bowls.
We’ll continue to do rankings for every division so people can speculate on who’s going to play who and we’ll also continue to do our own five-division final rankings because those have a history of more than 35 years behind them.
In the big picture, the way the state is going with more watered-down divisions and the way the CIF Southern Section is going with an ever-strengthened Pac-Five Division, most of the state’s very best teams aren’t going to be playing each other in CIF bowl games anyway. Other than De La Salle and probably just a handful of other teams each season, the CIFSS Pac-Five Division is where the best is really going to be playing the best.