There will be one significant change coming for what many hope is the upcoming Central Coast Section football playoffs for the 2021 season — no at-large bids.
A proposal drafted by Steve Sell — Aragon football coach and athletic director and one of three Peninsula Athletic League representatives — does away with at-large playoff berths for the upcoming season only and instead replaces them with additional automatic berths to the five leagues that comprise the CCS.
The proposal was unanimously approved by the committee during a video conference last Thursday.
“It’s clear [the members of the committee] care about the experience kids have,” Sell said.
The proposal, which still needs to be approved by both the CCS Athletic Directors Advisory Committee and the CCS Board of Managers, still has 40 teams making the playoffs. In previous seasons, there were 33 automatic bids and seven at-large berths. The proposal gives three of the five leagues in CCS — the PAL, Santa Clara Valley Athletic League and the Blossom Valley Athletic League — an extra automatic bid, while both the West Catholic Athletic League and the Pacific Coast Athletic League, the best and largest leagues in CCS, respectively, will each be given two extra automatic bids.
For the PAL — which currently receives four automatic berths for the Bay Division, two from the Ocean and the Lake Division champion — it means the league will be given an eighth automatic playoff berth.
The decision came about because coaches were worried that the power-point and ranking systems used previously might not be applicable to the 2021 season.
“At some point, somebody is not going to have a game (because of the virus) and we don’t have a way to measure out a way with the loss of power points,” said Mike Parodi, Hillsdale football coach and who, along with Sell and Sequoia head coach Rob Poulos are the PAL reps to the committee.
The CCS uses the ranking from Calpreps.com, along with CCS power points, to determine at-large bid, but the committee isn’t sure the website or the CCS will have a system in place to properly calculate rankings and power points for team that may play less than a full slate of 10 games.
“With two mathematical systems in place maybe gone, [adding an extra automatic berth] made sense,” Parodi said. “There are so many uncontrollable variations that this gives us a little bit more control.”
Power points are accrued based on the competitive level of a team. Playing a team in the PAL Bay Division, for instance, awards more points than playing a team from the PAL Lake Division.
Leagues will be allowed to determine themselves which of their teams receives the extra playoff spot, with the hope that coaches reward the most deserving team in its league.
“It’ll be interesting to see how that goes down,” Parodi said. “It could be a fifth-place ‘A’ (league) team, or a third-place ‘B.’ It could also allow for, maybe, that really good team that just didn’t get enough games (played).”
The weird part of the decision by the committee is that the season will be underway before the ADAC and BOM approve the proposal. The committees are not scheduled to meet until sometime in January, while football practice is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 14 with first games slated for Jan. 8.
“If we get to the point where we have 40 teams playing in the playoffs, that would be the best scenario,” Sell said.
While the proposal doesn’t take into account every scenario that could crop up over the next several months, Parodi said the understanding among coaches in the section is that they will make decisions when issues present themselves.
“We need to be willing, as a committee, to kind of roll with it,” Parodi said. “If something comes up, we’ll do whatever we have to do to make it right.”