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CIF Seeks to Reward Top Teams : Football Champions, Seeded Teams Would Get 3 Home Games

September 25, 1987|TOM HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

Proposals that would guarantee home games through the first three rounds of the postseason playoffs to league football champions and to the top four seeded teams in each conference were introduced Thursday in a Southern Section general council meeting in Norwalk.

Jerry Witte, the Saddleback High School coach and a member of the section's football advisory committee, introduced the measures to representatives of the 64 leagues that make up the Southern Section.

The proposals were discussion items that will be voted upon in the next general council meeting, scheduled for Jan. 21. A simple majority vote is all that is necessary to pass either item. If passed, the proposals would go into effect in the 1988 season.

The first proposal would guarantee a league's No. 1 designated team a home field advantage until the championship game in the playoffs--provided, of course, that it survives.

The second proposal would offer the same guarantee of home games to the top four seeded teams. Teams are seeded by the section's playoff committee before the announcement of the playoff pairings.

Such a proposal, if approved, would ensure a school such as El Toro and Capistrano Valley, rated first and second in Orange County and each a member of the South Coast League, of having the home field advantage even if it finished second in a league race.

"The general feeling was that schools should be rewarded for being a league champion or a seeded team," Witte said. "It's based on the same formula that the National Football League uses to determine its champion."

An exception to the proposal would have to be made when league champions meet head-to-head in subsequent rounds of the playoffs. Eight of the nine conferences in the Southern Section consist of five leagues, and the Inland Conference has six leagues.

"Rewarding the league champion is an interesting concept, but it has a big flaw," said Ted Mullen, Anaheim coach, who led teams at Villa Park and Foothill. "There's five teams in most of the conferences. Who's going to be the odd man out when it comes time for No. 1 to play No. 1?

"You often get an upset in the first round that changes things dramatically. My feeling is that if you upset a No. 1 team in the first round, you deserve a home game the next week. I've been in five title games, and I think those teams won the league title only twice."

Mike Milner, Fountain Valley coach, questioned the financial feasibility of the proposal. He pointed out that the Southern Section takes 50% of the gate receipts from all playoff games and the revenue is a major income for the section.

"What happens if a league champion or seeded team is perennially a bad drawing team and it gets three straight home games?" he said. "There are some good football teams that play in poor facilities or just don't draw that many fans.

"You have to look at the playoffs from a financial aspect. I think the CIF should be interested in holding its playoff games in good stadiums generally hosted by teams that draw well."

Last year, of the section's total income of $930,320, $346,138 came from its football playoffs. The section has budgeted $341,000 for playoff revenue this year.

Greg Shadid, who led Bolsa Grande to the Central Conference title last year, showed that an unseeded team can win a championship, but he conceded that a little luck helped the Matadors.

"We weren't seeded, but we were the home team in three of our four playoff games," he said. "My biggest concern is always with the facility that we have to play in when we're on the road. That should be a big priority with the CIF, too, since it's getting half the gate."

Many small school representatives immediately voiced displeasure with the proposals.

Representatives from the Inland Conference, which includes the Olympic League, questioned a possible increase in travel expenses. Orange Lutheran, Southern California Christian and Whittier Christian are members of the Olympic League.

The Inland Conference includes schools as geographically distant as Mammoth, Santa Ynez and Trona among its 37 members.

"It would seem that the small schools would have the biggest travel disadvantage under this proposal, and we're the ones that can least afford increased expenses," said Dean Anders, principal of Santa Ynez High.

Under the present playoff pairing system, a league champion is guaranteed a home game in the first round and then must travel in the second round if it faces a team that was on the road in the first round. In the event both teams had home games in the first round, a coin flip determines who gets the home game in the second round.

"The bottom line is that three home games just wouldn't be fair," Mullen said. "The status quo is fine with me."

In other council agenda developments:

- Orange County's 56 public high schools approved a proposal, submitted by chairman Tom Triggs, principal of La Habra High, extending through the 1988-89 school year the current alignment for the nine leagues in the county.

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