SAN DIEGO — In an attempt to avoid the confusion of the 1987 at-large football playoff selection, Kendall Webb, San Diego Section commissioner, last Tuesday approved a recommendation from the coaches' advisory committee to require coaches seeking at-large berths to attend the seeding meeting.
Vista High School's football team did not receive an at-large berth because Coach Dick Haines was not at the seeding meeting at the conclusion of the regular season. Vista's absence caused an uproar in the community, which resulted in an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by parents against the section.
Attending the meeting was considered an unwritten rule by most coaches. But Haines contended that no such rule existed.
Coaches attend the meeting to make a pitch for their team to be selected for an at-large entry. Berths are awarded according to strength of schedule, common opponents and several other criteria. And coaches can inform the seeding committee of such things as injured or ineligible players.
Some coaches question having an attendance requirement.
"I wish there was an alternative," said Fallbrook Coach Tom Pack, who represents the Palomar League on the advisory committee. "We are making a huge deal out of something that is never going to happen again."
Haines and Webb agree that such a situation is unlikely to happen again. Webb, however, believes the rule is necessary.
"I want to make sure everybody understands the operating rules and everything is as clear as possible," Webb said.
Said Haines: "Kendall is just trying to cover his mistakes. . . . This rule will have absolutely no effect. (Last season) the coaches committee decided they didn't want to play Vista, that's what probably happened."
Vista had lost its final game of the season to San Dieguito the night before the seeding meeting. The next morning, Haines was not at the meeting to make a pitch for an at-large berth.
Haines said he thought Vista, traditionally a power in the county, would be awarded an at-large berth because of its strong schedule. Vista lost to state power Fontana and defeated Northern California power Rancho Cordova.
San Dieguito, which finished fifth in the Palomar League, was awarded the at-large berth over fourth-place Vista.
Pack believes that requiring coaches to be at the seeding meeting could cause problems.
"I'm concerned with the fact that what if Tom Pack is driving by himself to that meeting and gets in an accident and never makes the meeting," Pack said. "Now I'm not in the playoffs. That's not fair."
Webb said he is working on a plan that would require coaches to contact their league committee representative before attending the meeting.
Other rule changes include:
- Requiring coaches seeking at-large berths to be ready to present game films to opposing coaches at the meeting.
- A team can still be awarded an at-large berth even though it finished lower in the league than a team not being considered.
- The defense may advance the ball during tie-breakers. Previously, the defense could only take possession and the ball was declared dead at the point of possession.
The Torrey Pines boys' basketball team lost its first game of the season, 64-63, in overtime against Mt. Carmel last Wednesday, ending a 27-game winning streak that began last season.
The defeat seemed to have little lasting effect on the Falcons. Last Friday, they opened a 16-2 lead over Vista en route to a 77-43 victory.
"You're always disappointed when you lose," said John Farrell, Torrey Pines coach. "We try not to get too emotional when we win, and it's the same thing when we lose.
"Our pride was hurt, but it's all part of growing up."