It was expected that the CIF state office and CIF Central Coast Section would work out the language and details so that the section could send two of its Open Division runner-up teams into the CIF regional bowl games.
According to Darren Saabedra of the San Jose Mercury-News in a blog post earlier this week, the section has indeed now gotten its approval for two of its runner-up teams to get bowl berths.
“We’re unique,” CCS commissioner Duane Morgan told the Mercury-News. “The West Catholic Athletic League makes us unique. Our geographics makes us unique. It’s tough to write rules, and that’s what me and (CIF executive director) Roger (Blake) had a long talk about. Finally we came to an understanding that our three Open champions in football should go and our two (runners-up) will be pulled from the enrollment in which they came from. Once he understood that, it matched his language. It was just semantics that was getting in the way.”
The CCS is able to send runner-ups because of a new stipulation in CIF rules that any section can send a non-champion if it has an Open Division within that section.
Currently, the CCS and the CIF San Diego Section have an Open Division for football. In San Diego, the section has already voted to simply send its divisional champions into the SoCal regional bowl games.
There wasn’t enough support in San Diego apparently for sending the Open Division runner-up although if one or two of the CCS runner-up teams ends up winning a CIF state bowl game then it’s a good bet that San Diego would realize the advantage and perhaps do something different next season.
Next year, when the CIF Southern Section is expected to revamp its own football playoffs with competitive equity divisions, it also may be a simple step or semantics to switch the current Pac-5 Division into an Open Division. Surely, if there’s any section playoff division that demands a runner-up get to advance into the state system, then it’s that one.
When the CCS football playoffs begin, there will actually be three separate Open Division brackets consisting of 24 teams that qualify mostly from “A” leagues plus any “B” league stand-alones that have petitioned to be in that Open Division and have more playoff points than another “A” league team. The teams would then be split up into eight-team brackets based on enrollment (larger to small).
It’s the enrollment cutoffs that may have the biggest impact on the NorCal bowl game matchups because several of the powerful teams from the WCAL will be split off into different divisions – including Bellarmine in D1, St. Francis in D2, Riordan in D3 and Valley Christian in either D2 or D3.
That isn’t going to mean, however, that we’ll be potentially seeing a CCS D3 Open Division champion like Riordan being slotted opposite some small school team from the Northern Section. This is because the CIF bowl games will not be broken up into divisions according to enrollment (other than the cutoff of 1,200 for the Small Schools Open Division).
Instead, the CIF bowl games will be an overall seeding of the 25 teams on the board in the north on one side and then the 25 teams in the south on the other, resulting in 1 vs. 1 for example in the Open Division, then 2 vs. 3 for example in the north and 2 vs. 3 in the south for Division IAA.
And since the WCAL teams literally tend to beat each other up week after wacky week, there’s probably not going to be much of a difference in the rankings from the CCS Division I Open champion and compared to even the second runner-up .
Look for those teams instead to be more bunched together on the board, meaning there’s a good chance we’ll see two of the CCS bowl eligible teams going against each other.
Seeing anyone of those CCS teams seeded toward the bottom of the NorCal pecking order would be a joke and very unfair to the other small school team it might be matched up against.
Many other CIF bowl game possibilities will begin to be cleared up after the regular season ends for just about everyone in two weeks. Of course, the CCS is different. Its regular season will go on for one week longer.