30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 14): Looking ahead to realignment

Today’s question comes to us via a recent comment from Oh Boy.

How will conference realignment next year affect the regional championships? Will it change scheduling? League champions benefit? Strongest football leagues change? Will NCS have the selection advantage over SJS, CCS, OAL, SFS and North teams?

First, let’s recap the realignment set to take place in 2012. The Valley Conference (EBAL, DFAL, DVAL, BVAL) will remain unchanged. But the Bay Shore Conference is undergoing major changes. The MVAL remains mostly the same, keeping its current seven teams (American, Irvington, Kennedy, Logan, Mission San Jose, Newark Memorial and Washington) and adds Moreau Catholic, a former MVAL member.

But two new leagues will be formed from the remnants of the ACCAL, BSAL and HAAL and we still don’t even know what those leagues will be named. They are both 12-team “super” leagues that will be split into six-team divisions based on competitive equity. I’m not sure this detail is finalized, but it’s likely to work out that each division winner earns an automatic NCS berth.

One of those leagues will consist of Alameda, Arroyo, Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal, Hayward, Mt. Eden, Piedmont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Tennyson.

Another will have Albany, De Anza, El Cerrito, Hercules, John Swett, Kennedy-Richmond, Pinole Valley, Richmond, St. Joseph Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, St. Patrick-St. Vincent and Salesian.

There are still a few questions to be asked regarding these leagues. For one, St. Joseph Notre Dame doesn’t play football, so that means one of those divisions only has five teams. Also, currently Salesian plays as an affiliate member of the Bay Football League. If they continue to do so, there’s only 10 football playing teams in that “super” league, meaning two five-team divisions. That adds up to only four league games and six non-league games, which is less than ideal. Hopefully we’ll learn more about how that will work out soon.

On to the question though. How will it affect the regional championships? Well, I think it helps any Bay Shore team that might be good enough to qualify. Take Encinal, for example. The Jets will be in a six-team division, probably lined up with Bishop O’Dowd, San Leandro, Berkeley, and maybe Hayward and Alameda. That’s a decent league schedule to play. Then they’ve got five nonleague games to set up. They can add a good mix of challenging games in the nonleague.

Ditto this situation if we’re talking about any of the teams that are set up to have a real good year, be it Pinole Valley, Berkeley , O’Dowd, whoever. Instead of having their strength of schedule weighed down by playing some of the lesser teams currently in their leagues, they have  a smaller league schedule and can beef up the nonleague. Will those coaches do that? That’s to be determined. But they will have the flexibility in their schedule to at least attempt to ensure that SOS doesn’t cost them a regional title game bid.

That obviously works into the scheduling questions. With only five league games, there’s a lot more nonleague games to set up. Presumably, we’ll see a lot of these Bay Shore teams (particularly ones that were former league rivals) set up nonleague games with each other. Coaches tend to like having a lot of nonleague games because it allows them to do a lot with their scheduling and this should make things interesting.

League champions always benefit and in this scenario, the league champions of the higher divisions will have been battle-tested by playing a mostly competitive league schedule. That’s a plus. And for the teams in the lower division, assuming they are awarded the automatic NCS berth and requisite home game, maybe it helps those programs build a little bit by giving them a chance to win a playoff game.

I know a lot of people on this blog are going to be up in arms about a team winning the lower division calling itself a league champion or earning a home playoff game. But realistically, I think it’ll be rare that one of those teams goes deep in NCS and one of the purposes of high school sports is to give everyone the opportunity to compete. I have personal experience playing in a football program that was unsuccessful year after year and I don’t see a problem in allowing those teams the chance to play in a division that allows them to compete. Who knows, in this setup, maybe one day Mt. Eden and Tennyson are meeting to decide the division title. This could help make the whole section more competitive and it’s definitely a positive if more teams are able to compete and play good football.

I don’t really know how much this realignment changes the NCS’ selection advantage. De La Salle will always be selected as long as it wins NCS. That’s pretty much a given. This should improve the chances of other Bay Shore Conference teams. I don’t see it affecting Valley Conference teams much, except maybe they play some more nonleague games against Bay Shore Conference teams and that builds their resume a bit.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • Jimmy, if they are splitting the 2 super leagueas equally with league championship, home field, ect.. then why aren’t the super leagues split by enrollment? In NCS you go to the play-offs based on enrollment different in the SJS I understand but we’re talking NCS. Why let an Tennyson or Mt. Eden win a B league & get a home field game when in actuality a Hayward or Alameda who maybe good enough to win league that year goes up against a bigger B-High/SL? EVen worse Castro Valley winning league & maybe an average SL team could win the B but has to go to Pitt or too DLS?

  • The buzz word is competitive equity. That’s the primary function, along with geographical proximity, in determining these leagues.

    We’d be kidding ourselves if we said that enrollment is the only factor in determining how good a team is. If it was, Mission San Jose would inherently be better than Encinal or Salesian. That’s not the case. The division format allows for the top six programs to play in the ‘A’ division (or whatever they call it) and it could change from year to year. Different factors come into play at different schools and some schools just deliver good programs despite what their enrollment is like. I like that this setup puts those programs together to create an exciting league.

    I should state that I do not know that both divisions will receive equal status as a league champ with home field advantage. I don’t believe that’s been decided. To me, in an ideal world, the winner of the lower division would get an automatic berth to NCS but not receive home-field advantage. That seems to make sense, if you ask me. But I don’t know how the final format will work out yet.

  • Nfl

    jimmy how will they determine who goes in the super n lower division whats the criteria? Will ncs change there format and not give home field advantage to league champs. If not teams better get ready to go to eureka theyll win there crap league everyear. In marin county the bottom teams dont play the top teams but are not eligiable to win league thats the way to go. You shouldnt be rewarded for playing in lesser divison. St.pats playing pinole valley i’ll believe it when i see it same goes for salesian they wont leave bfl.

  • I believe the divisions will be determined by the league. The CCS uses these super league formats with three divisions and at the end of each season, based on performance, they meet and decide if any teams should move up or down a division. I’m guessing that’s how it will be handled.

    I’ve heard nothing to hint that the NCS would change its current format of home games for league champs. I think that’s sticking, at least for now. We’ll see how they handle it with the division format though. Still a lot of questions to be answered.

    As for Salesian leaving the BFL, I do remember at one of the meetings last year that Chad Nightingale said Salesian would be willing to leave the BFL to compete in one of these leagues. However, he had concern about the BFL finding a team to replace them. To be a league, there needs to be six teams. (There are some exceptions, such as if a school doesn’t field a team that year and leagues like the HDNL that break up into small divisions). But if Salesian left, the BFL would need another team to get up to six. Emery is back in the league this year, but Harker left, so it’s still at six.

  • mvalfan

    jimmy Mission San Jose is better than Encinal or Salesian in a lot of sports just not football. they don’t have the demographics for that sport. They have great tennis and badminton and volleyball teams and a number of the girl sports are very good. They should split on enrollment. its stupid that kennedy with 700 kids has to play in a league where almost every school is over 2000 or close and against logan with its 4000 or what ever they have that’s retarded for them and for any other scholl in a similar situation

  • Exactly Mvalfan. We’re talking football here, but these leagues are set up for more sports than just football. With the super leagues, it’s likely the divisions will vary by sport. So the teams that are the top six and in the same division for football won’t necessarily be that way for basketball or tennis or volleyball.

  • Even worse if this is a thing they’re gonna do for multiple sports. I thought jus football but I guess if they have 22 games in BB then they would have none too schedule. Make it by Demo graphics or enrollment its easiest & make the most sense. Not something you have to redo every year. In Football Arroyo & Alameda can’t complain much about going against D-1 schools since they less 100 students away from D-1 anyways.

  • brandonbeard

    This is going to be interesting to see.

  • Oh boy

    Jimmy, would the league with 10 teams play a round robin format? There would only be 1 non-league game but the rivalries and fan bases would build up.

    Encinal, Alameda, Berkeley, O’Dowd, Pinole and San Leandro would be a VERY nice football league as they have all had success at one point. But other than the lockdown DLS has on D1…I would say a PV that wins this league could be odd team out in a playoff bid in favor of a Folsom/Grant (SJS) v. Wilcox/Los Gatos (CCS)

  • EBfootball

    If they’re so concerned about competitive equity they should hire better coaches. Creating a soft league is an embarrassment and makes a mockery of the true spirit of competition. In the new HAAL they should separate the teams by something more objective like region (north and south) or size. All of those teams have had their time of dominance (except for Tenneyson, sorry Jimmy) and it all had to do with coaches. If a team isn’t winning, fire the coach and learn how to hire a good one.

  • norcalfball

    fire the coaches from all the arm chair qb’s on here…go ahead and spend 20-30 hours a week away from your family for no pay…

    not saying all coaches are great…but the fact is it is becoming tougher and tougher to find good coaches who have the time it takes for HS football or the economic means to do so.

    plus in today’s game assistant coaches are as important as the head…no longer can 2 or 3 coaches effectively run an entire team. so not only do you need a good HC with the time but also half a dozen assistants too.

    fact is the talent is not as good as it once was in certain areas…MSJ use to be a powerhouse in the 70’s and 80s…do u think lad could go there and turn them into a contender…not saying MSJ has great coaches, but it really wouldn’t matter if they did. HAAL and MVAL are not as good as they once were. just as the EBAL is much better than it used to be.

  • DVAL Watcher

    Norcalfball…for years now I have always thought Killer D was the smartest guy in the room. Your post thou is the smartest post I have seen in the past few months! Pitt Grunt keep up the good work ! Silvergreen Good Luck to you and yours in Florida, when you play So. Cal and out of state we ALL become DeLa fans, Good Luck!

  • KillerD

    DVAL watcher, yes we all become DLS fans when they battle other powerhouse teams from SoCal or out of state.

    My fingers and eyes are tired from off season blogging, so now is time to rest, recoup and regain all of our strength.

    Let the Games Begin!

  • EBfootball

    If Paul Peranon with 200+ wins under his belt does not have a head coaching job then there is at least a surplus of one good coach. I’ve seen too many programs fluctuate from good to bad and bad to good with the change of a coach to not believe that’s not the determining factor. Regardless of the talent. Remember when DeAnza was a force not too long ago? And when Alameda was hopeless?

    So now the want to create leagues with competitive equity when half the teams in a division make the playoffs and mandatory mercy rules? Its just like social promotion in schools: when they let everyone pass 8th grade regardless of their math grade they don’t survive in high school math. If we’re trying to prepare kids for life with sports we can’t coddle them. Get them better coaches (teachers) and demand high expectations (from coaches and players).

  • S1lverngreen

    Watcher, best of luck to you and your team my friend! Looking forward to a healthy successful season for all of our kids in the Bay Area!

  • This level of realignment is a bad idea. Keep the leagues as they are or just shift a team here or there. I was unaware of so many teams requesting a change of this level…
    Axe the super league idea and just form a few leagues (which already exist) with X number of teams.
    In the Redwood Empire we experienced the nightmare of the NCL I-North and NCL I-South…
    If you look at the schedules for those teams over the 4 years this was in practice, North teams played league and South teams, end of story. Its like nothing changed even with the realignment and suddenly some games were league contests and others werent.
    Now where are they?! Back to one NCL I and one NCL II for obviously smaller teams.
    Leave the realignment to the coaches and athletic directors… the NCS should stay out of it as much as possible.