Coaches Speak: More CIF Bowl Games

Lucas Dunne of Concord De La Salle looks for running room during 2010 CIF Open Division state championship game against Servite of Anaheim. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

Lucas Dunne of Concord De La Salle looks for running room during 2010 CIF Open Division state championship game against Servite of Anaheim. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

In a non-scientific survey of top football coaches from around the state who responded to a questionnaire we sent out last week, there appears to be a majority of them who are not supportive of that many teams potentially playing 16-game schedules.

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On January 30 of last month, the CIF State Federated Council by a narrow 71-68 margin voted to expand the CIF state football bowl game format from five divisions to 13 divisions.

CIF logo 216Under the new system, every CIF section champion is going to be guaranteed of playing in a regional bowl game – in other words four-team brackets with a north and south game – but there will remain an Open Division bowl game for just the No. 1 overall teams in the North and South plus a new Open Division small school bracket.

At Cal-Hi Sports, we sent out a questionnaire last week to more than 200 of the top coaches from around the state and one of the questions was about the new CIF bowl game system.

Here is a broad sample of the responses received (by rough estimate of the nearly 40 who sent back info, we’d say it’s about 55 percent opposed to the expanded CIF bowl games):

First Group Generally Opposed

“I think it is wrong and puts kids in danger. If the CIF is truly concerned about the health of the young men, keep the games to a max of 14.”

Guy Gardner (Palos Verdes, PV Estates)

“I think the CIF is only doing it to raise money. We live in far Northern California. We really don’t want to be practicing football in a couple feet of snow in December. The CIF is about safety unless they can make a buck off our kids.”

Shaun Wood (Modoc, Alturas)

“Sixteen games is way too much football. The top two college teams played an extra game and still only played 15. Not sure how we are limiting practice time on a daily basis but then increasing the duration of the season. Would love to see a public vs. public and a private vs. private format. It’s time.
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Trent Merzon (Oakdale)

“Not a fan of it. I think it waters down the success of a CIF championship and has too many athletes playing into the start of the winter season, which would threaten even more the fact that there are very few mult-isport athletes out there. Playing multiple sports is a great thing.”

Sean Sovacool (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad)

“I am at a crossroads as we are being told to limit ‘full contact’ hours and practice hours/days but yet we are adding more and more games to an already strenuous schedule for 17 and 18 year olds.”

Jaime Ortiz (San Clemente)

“It could be good and we’d be excited to have the opportunity, but 16 games seems like it’s just too much. I don’t think the extra games are necessary.”

Tony Franks (St. Mary’s, Stockton)

“I prefer that the state bowl system be dropped entirely. A playoff to determine one true state champion is not conductive to the number of sections, schools and the great variety of competitive equity and enrollment within these schools. This is not the NFL or major college football. We are losing the essence of high school sports and competition by trying to create a system that reflects the NFL.”

Tony Peralta (Elsinore)

“Not a huge fan of it. I know Cali is a big state with a lot of high school football teams, but this seems a bit excessive.”

Chris Hauser (Mission Hills, San Marcos)

“I would rather not see the regional and state bowl games expanded. For many second tier champions, the culmination of the CIF (Southern Section) title is an accomplished goal that should be strived for and cherished.”

Ray Maholchic (Serrano, Phelan)

Second Group Generally Opposed

“It’s good for everybody.  The Southern Section has so many teams it seems like a fair idea.”

T.J. Ewing (Monterey Trail, Elk Grove)

Del Oro's Casey Taylor is one coach who definitely is in favor of 13 CIF bowl game divisions. Photo: SportStars Magazine.

Del Oro’s Casey Taylor is one coach who definitely is in favor of 13 CIF bowl game divisions. Photo: SportStars Magazine.

“I think it is a great opportunity for the teams that get invited.”

Troy Thomas (Crespi, Encino)

“I feel excited for smaller public schools in rural areas that are farming community-based. This gives them a better chance in participating in a regional and state bowl.”

Robert Mejia (Mendota)

“I think it is awesome. It takes all of the pressure off of scheduling preseason games. I don’t think it waters down the current system, either, look at how many state champions Texas has.”

Ryan Reynolds (Sutter)

“I like it. I think it gives every section champion a chance to compete for a state title and it will be determined on the field, not by a vote. If you play a tough schedule you can still have an opportunity to keep playing.”

Casey Taylor (Del Oro, Loomis)

“With so much talent in the state and so many deserving teams, it only makes sense to expand the bowls to include as many teams as possible.”

Jim Hartigan (JSerra Catholic, SJ Capistrano)

“We have 154 kids…it’s a good thing for us.”

Mike Parsons (Modesto Christian)

“I think it is great. Every year, deserving teams have been left out of the state bowl system. We know now that if we win a section title, we will represent our section at the state level.

Mike Nolte (Liberty, Madera)

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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  1. Matt
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    The new system would remove some of the politics and give deserving Section Champions an opportunity to participate. The only teams playing 16 games are teams running the tables. Great idea.

  2. Rono1932
    Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink


    Assuming none of the sections add or eliminate any of their playoff divisions for 2015, there will be 26 section division champions in the North (It’s my understanding that CS D1, 3, and 5 will be in the North next year.), and 25 section division champions in the South (Again, my understanding is that CS D2,4,and 6 will stay in the South), sums up to 51 section division champions in all. Obviously, 1 section division champion won’t have another section division champion to play.

    Also, if 2 section division champions are chosen from each region to go directly to the state Large Open and Small Open State Championship games, that leaves 24 teams in the North and and 23 teams in the South for the regional bowls. Assuming they(CIF Executive Council?)figure out how to have a game for the “odd team out” in the South, there would have to be 14, not 13, state championship games.

    Do you think they’ll allow for a section “open” division runner-up to advance to a regional bowl (This issue was supposed to have been on the agenda for the CIF Federated Council meeting in January, but it’s my understanding that it was tabled for further review), or have a couple of “play-in” games for a regional bowl spots?

    Anyway, whatever CIF decides, I hope it will be determined well before the 2015 football season begins and isn’t left hanging until late October or later in case some schools, leagues, or even sections try to litigate the issue. It was quite a hullabaloo in the Southland last year over the re-leaguing and re-divisioning of football teams in the Southern Section for the 2015 season, and SS seemed to allow for plenty of deadline time for the various phases of that issue.


    PS. Do you know of any way one can see the minutes of that CIF meeting at the Doubletree in San Jose last January?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted February 27, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Tim, I think a play-in game is going to be used to balance out the teams involved. The issue of Open Division section non-winners moving on is unknown and not sure how that will play out.

  3. Terry Logue
    Posted April 13, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Having been a section champ last year, and getting very little consideration to play in a bowl game, I love the new format. Teams that peak late in the year, or who play a tough schedule of bigger schools, should not get punished, or ignored for bowl selection. Anytime you can decide it on the field, and not in a “room” with stats, it’s a great thing. Terry Logue, Bear River High School

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