The section’s league reps vote 44-3 to add four-team Open Division in football starting this fall. Of course, thoughts turn immediately to NCS super power De La Salle, which has won every NCS D1 title since 1991 and has won six CIF state titles in the highest classification in the last seven years.
There hasn’t been a groundswell of support for an Open Division in some CIF sections, such as the Sac-Joaquin, but the CIF North Coast Section on Tuesday joined San Diego, L.A. City, Central Coast and the Southern as sections with some form of an open division playoff bracket.
Representatives from the NCS’ various leagues voted overwhelmingly in favor of proposals that, first, would create a four-team Open Division in football and, second, would allow a competitive equity points system to be instituted that would push some teams upward into higher divisions in many other sports.
NCS football, of course, means De La Salle of Concord, which has won 25 straight NCS titles not to mention six CIF state titles in the last seven years. While being part of a four-team Open Division that probably will limit the football team to just two section playoff games (compared to four that many other top teams in the state would play), De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz said on Tuesday that his school was supportive of the concept.
“In general, it’s good for our section,” Lopoz told Cal-Hi Sports. “There probably will be one, two or three amendments but it’s a good place to start.”
The proposal that passed also will now allow the NCS to replace a divisional champion with an Open Division runner-up or even an Open Division semifinal loser into the CIF state bowl game system.
Using last year’s top teams, for example, the NCS Open Division would have bunched De La Salle with Foothill of Pleasanton (lost in D1 final to Spartans), Antioch (lost 52-51 to Foothill in D1 semis) and Clayton Valley of Concord (won D2 section title and then lost in CIF D1-A bowl game to Narbonne).
Since the NCS is currently only allotted six teams into the NorCal bowl games (not including the Open Division state game), there could be some lower division section champs that now won’t be going to a bowl game. Currently in the CCS, its Division IV and Division V section winners are not advanced to bowl games.
The NCS also voted on Tuesday to add competitive equity factors that would move up teams in its various section playoffs. Clayton Valley, for example, already will be Division I in football, Bishop O’Dowd boys and girls basketball already will be D2 and Campolindo football already will be D2.
“Our league supported competitive equity and there are many who felt something had to be done,” Lopoz said. “I think it’ll take multiple years before you’ll see a major effect in most sports.”
One ripple effect is that since there now could be three NCS non-section champions not going to bowl games added to the two from the CCS there may be a push to add another division or two to the CIF bowl game lineup. The CIF already handed out 13 state title trophies last fall. What’s another two or three going to matter at this point.
And if NCS Open Division losing teams are going to be able to go to bowl games, why not let the losing team in the CIF Southern Section’s top division move on as well? It might be as simple as calling that division an Open Division. It’s basically what it is anyway with that section’s competitive equity divisions that will be utilized for the first time next season.