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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

City Section seeks better way to make football playoff brackets

The City Section football playoff bracket process, which one coach has compared to "The Jerry Springer Show," is being revised, aided by rankings from Maxpreps.com.

November 06, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

It was funnier than TV's best sitcoms. It was a reality show in which the participants didn't follow reality.

Welcome to the City Section football seeding meeting. For years, I've always looked forward to taking my seat in the back of the room and watching a group of proud, sometimes stubborn coaches argue and debate where teams should be placed in a playoff bracket.

There was an obvious conflict of interest. The same coaches in charge of creating a playoff bracket were the coaches of teams being considered for the bracket.

"I stopped going," former Woodland Hills Taft Coach Troy Starr said. "It was pure insanity. It was like 'The Jerry Springer Show' and arguing with people."

Last year, Carson Coach Elijah Asante showed up in a suit and tie and gave an impassioned speech trying to convince the seeding committee that his team deserved the No. 1 seed over defending champion Crenshaw, whose coach, Robert Garrett, sat in the room stunned and speechless.

"I told them it was a referendum on scheduling and competition," Asante said.

The committee ended up seeding Carson No. 1, and the Colts were eventually smashed by Crenshaw in the final, allowing Garrett to get his revenge.

Years ago, Venice Coach Angelo Gasca showed up for the first time as an assistant to his league representative, Ron Price, who was coaching at Palisades. Price suddenly walked out of the meeting too frustrated to remain, leaving Gasca in charge.

"I watched what was going on and was baffled," Gasca said.

Gasca didn't realize how alliances were formed and how there was plotting well before the meeting took place.

"It is entertaining and it is fun," Gasca said. "You can see the coaches getting angry. You could hear them muttering, 'I can't believe this guy.' It was kind of a courtroom drama, with football coaches putting on their lawyer's suit."

And no one was a better entertainer than Asante, who happens to have a law degree.

"I did what I had to do for my squad," Asante said. "You're trying to make a persuasive argument."

While watching over the circus, I could tell certain coaches were thinking ahead about which opponent they wanted to play in the second round and semifinals. And I felt sorry for the rookie coaches who came into the meeting not realizing how it worked.

It was no way to put together a fair, unbiased playoff bracket.

And so on Saturday morning, when the City Section puts together its new Division I and II playoff brackets, another format will be tried. The coaches have been banished. A committee that excludes current coaches will be entrusted with putting together the brackets aided by rankings from Maxpreps.com.

Among the committee members are former coaches Al Padilla, Pete Carrion, Bill Foster and E.C. Robinson.

They've also banned media from attending, which usually means they have something to hide, and considering what's happened in the past, it's understandable that the City Section doesn't want the public to know what's really going on behind closed doors.

So let's see what transpires Saturday.

"It will be interesting if this new seeding will be better, because it can't be worse," Gasca said.

Asante is already complaining.

"It's less entertaining," he said. "Bring the coaches back."

My suggestion for the top four seeds are San Pedro (9-0), Dorsey (8-1), Narbonne (6-3) and Crenshaw (5-3). It would prevent league foes from meeting until the championship game. Otherwise, if Dorsey is No. 1, it might have to play Crenshaw in the semifinals. Ditto for San Pedro-Narbonne.

Good luck and good riddance.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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