I’ve heard the above question a lot this year, so I figured it’d be a good idea to try to provide a full explanation. I even had a few questions myself about the whole process that I was able to get cleared up.
For starters, the California Interscholastic Federation announced a change in June to its parameters for selecting state bowl game representatives. That change eliminated school enrollments as the determining factor for which divisions teams are considered for state bowl game purposes. Instead, the state bowl divisions were decided within each section. Each section commissioner provided their suggestion for which divisions their teams should be placed in. For the North Coast Section, that led to NCS Division I teams being placed in state Division I, NCS Division II being placed in state Division II and NCS Divisions III, IV and V being placed in state Division III. For all sections, any state Division III schools with enrollments of less than 500 are considered for Division IV (that’s different that what the above press release said, but that change was given to me by CIF Senior Director Ron Nocetti).
As for the Oakland Section, the commissioner’s recommendation that came forth based on the average size of the schools and competitive equity was Division II. The rest of the commissioners agreed that was appropriate and that’s where the Oakland Section was placed, meaning that’s where McClymonds will be considered for this year’s state championship bowl games.
One question expressed at McClymonds is why it can’t be considered for Division IV, using that same rule that allows Division III schools of less than 500 students to fall to Division IV. First off, Nocetti confirmed that’s an exception only in place for Division III. That’s the rule currently in place and only Division III schools can drop to Division IV. But it’s not the only reason Mack can’t be considered in Division IV. Despite a current enrollment that the Oakland Unified School District confirmed to me earlier this year of 247, the CIF always uses the prior school year’s enrollment. That number, which came prior to merger of the former small schools at McClymonds back into one comprehensive school, was 552. That means even if the Oakland Section was in Division III, there’s no way McClymonds could be considered for Division IV because it did not fall into that under 500 enrollment last year.
Nocetti assured this is a new process and it will be reviewed. The Oakland Section could recommend next year that it’s teams — based on size and, more importantly, competitive equity — be placed in Division III. That would allow future McClymonds teams, provided the enrollment stays under 500, to be considered in Division IV. However, for this year, Mack is Division II and will stay there.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s zero chance of earning a state title game berth. The Warriors will need Grant-Sacramento to beat Folsom on Friday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title and then have the Pacers earn the Open Division berth, thus creating an opening at Division II. There’s no guarantee Mack would get the spot in that case, but it would have a chance.
One of our bloggers, renegades10, provided some analysis during a live chat yesterday of why Mack would be next in line to grab the Division II berth if Grant was awarded the Open Division spot. Among the teams in consideration for the Division II spot is whoever wins NCS Division II (Concord is the top seed), Northern Section champion Paradise, and whoever wins the SJS Division III championship game between Oakdale and Del Oro. Here’s renegades10’s breakdown:
Concord lost to Whitney early in the season. Whitney lost in the DIII playoffs to Del Oro. So Del Oro would actually have an edge over Concord based on common opponents since SJS DIII teams are DII for bowl games. But Del Oro has four losses on the season. Then Paradise recently won the top division in the Northern Section and they have only one loss. That loss was to Deer Valley, who lost to Pitt, who lost to Mack. Therefore an undefeated Mack squad should have the edge over a one loss Paradise. Then comparing Mack to Del Oro, well 0 losses to 4 I think has to go to Mack. So there you go.
I’ll add to that by saying obviously if Oakdale beat Del Oro, then you could go through the same chain of events renegades10 presented to give Oakdale the edge over Concord and then compare Oakdale having three losses to Mack’s zero.
As you can see, this is all a pretty complicated process. But I know some people at Mack were holding out hope that it could receive a Division IV berth, which simply is not going to happen.
The unfortunate thing is that Ferndale, a team Mack beat 18-0 to start the season, is in a position that if it can win its next two games to take the NCS Division IV title, it would likely soar to the top of the state Division IV rankings and be in position to earn a berth in the state title game. Nobody said life is fair, right?