SJS suggests sweeping changes to playoff formats

Oakmont impacted by league realignment proposal
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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When the realignment committee of the Sac-Joaquin Section gets back together on Jan. 28 there are certain to be many schools and leagues with opinions to share. Earlier this month, the committee released its initial recommendations both for league realignment and new playoff formats that would begin with the fall 2010 sports season. Locally, the alignment changes affect just one Roseville school to any great degree, but the playoff changes, if enacted, would have an across the board impact. In addition to proposing some significant changes for 2010 and beyond, the section has proposed early implementation of some aspects of the plan for the 2009-2010 school year. The essence of the football playoff proposal is a plan that would combine the seven Division I leagues with the three Division II leagues for the purpose of creating a 16-team D-I playoff bracket and a 16-team D-II playoff bracket. The 32-team structure puts eight additional teams in the playoffs at that level. Once the two divisions are pooled, and 20 automatic berths awarded to each league’s top finishers, a committee would use a formula to award 12 at-large spots to fill out the brackets. The 32 selected teams would then be reassigned as either D-I or D-II playoff teams based upon enrollment numbers, with the largest 16 schools playing in the D-I tourney and the remaining schools filling out the D-II bracket. The two 16-team fields would then be seeded according to number of regular season wins, regardless of where they finished in league play, and the brackets will be drawn up. Tweaking will be allowed to separate league teams from each other, but otherwise the seedings will used to set matchups as No. 1 plays No. 16 and on through a typical tournament structure. Using the football season recently concluded as a model, three SFL teams would still have made the field, and all three would have been in the Division II bracket based on school size. Based on number of wins, state-bowl winning Grant would have been the top seed in D-II, with Granite Bay seeded No.2, while Roseville would have drawn the sixth seed and Woodcreek No. 15. In order to avoid a first-round all-SFL contest, Woodcreek would have been moved to the No. 16 spot and opened at Grant, while Granite Bay would have drawn the original No. 16 team, Jesuit. In the end, the goal would be to have the best two teams playing each other in the section title game, and at the very least to avoid the first-round Grant vs. Granite Bay game that was played this year. Another key to the plan is to eliminate what happens in a year like the 2007 football season, in which Roseville and Rocklin missed the playoffs entirely despite eight-win campaigns. The other significant changes in playoff structures would be the increasing of the D-II soccer and baseball playoff fields to include a guaranteed three teams per league, instead of randomly rotating which league is stuck with just two playoff teams. The new structure would create a play-in game between two third-place teams and a nine-team bracket, and it would also allow for the top four teams in the tourney to be seeded based upon team strength. The league realignment proposal would break up the current Sierra Foothill League by moving Oakmont to a new-look Division II Capital Valley Conference to play with Bella Vista, Casa Roble, Christian Brothers, Del Campo and Rio Linda. It would leave the other SFL teams in place and have Nevada Union participate in the league in football as well as the other sports. “We would like to stay in the SFL if it is at all possible,” Oakmont athletic director Dean Perkins said. “The problem is identifying a team to replace us in the CVC because they are not going to allow for a five-team league.” The debates will go on for a few months before final proposals will be adopted sometime in April, with the next meeting scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Elkhorn Country Club in Stockton.