If we learned nothing else from Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section football seeding meetings, we learned these two things:
The further south you are, the more you run the risk of being ignored or worse, penalized, by the seeding committee. It happened last year, and it happened again Saturday only this time the bias was even clearer.
The rules that Commissioner Pete Saco has in place
those are merely for show and can be disregarded by the committee when it thinks it knows best. As we know, those will almost always benefit schools up north.
Merced County schools felt the wrath of the committee this year.
I wish I could tell you why, but the committee works in secret. I asked to sit in, or at last watch a simulcast of the seeding meeting, but was told that nothing of interest happens during the meeting. Well, I guess we now know that is not true people are cutting deals, I believe. How else can you explain the lack of logic tied to many of its decisions.
Just a coincidence that three of the schools that are farthest from the power base were the ones who were penalized? Just like last year? Nah, I didn't think you'd believe that, either.
Here's a look at the three teams who got the worst of it:
MERCED: The Bears (7-3) whipped Pitman (8-2) to finish ahead of the Pride in the CCC. An identical situation occurred in Division 4 (with Calaveras in the role of Merced, Summerville as Pitman) and the committee switched the two based on 1) higher league placement and 2) head-to-head.
The Bears would have been the No. 6 and hosting second-tier Tokay (7-3 and one of the weakest D1 teams) in Friday's playoff opener. Instead, they are the No. 9 seed and on the road against No. 8 Lincoln of Stockton and explosive RB Justin Davis, who has a verbal commitment to USC.
I think Merced's problem if you can call it that is that the Bears play in the extreme south end of the section and few on the committee ever see them play. Out of sight, out of mind the committee obviously works that way.
Le GRAND: The two-time defending section champ and a State Bowl team last year, the Bulldogs went 8-2 and shared the Southern League title with Waterford and Ripon Christian (both were also 8-2). With Waterford and Le Grand being league champs and the only 8-2 teams in Division 5, even the committee couldn't screw this one up oops, I forgot, it is the committee.
Waterford got the top seed (after a league tiebreaker system sorted out the order of finish but all 3 are recognized as league champs), and the No. 1 seed in D5. Le Grand was penciled in for the No. 2 seed, but it looks like jealousy got the better of the committee because it broke the rule.
Golden Sierra, which won the mediocre Sierra Delta and is 7-3, was given the No. 2 seed
and the first-round bye that comes with it
and the home game in the semifinals
and what else? What's behind Door No. 3? League champ with better record and two straight section titles gets punished so the bracket looks better? That's what this is about.
The committee couldn't stand to see two Southern League teams getting byes in the first round and the top two seeds, so they "fixed" that. Think the committee isn't biased?
Then why was Capital Christian of Sacramento (in the heart of the power base) allowed to keep its No. 4 seed despite being perhaps the 12th-best team in D4? There's not a football person in the section who doesn't know that Cap Christian should be the No. 13 seed based on its weak schedule and poor league if the committee believes Cap Christian is better than No. 12 seed Summerville, it's time for new committee members.
ATWATER: The Falcons were a No. 13 seed and heading to Elk Grove, then the committee moved Elk Grove to No. 3 because it's hoping to arrange a title game with Elk Grove vs. Folsom a ticket seller's dream!
The committee also moved Atwater back to No. 14 what does one thing have to do with another? and then they moved Atwater back two more spots for No. 16. Now Atwater faces the section's top seed in Folsom.
The section rule states teams can't be moved more than two slots up or down yet the Falcons fell through. Of course, the committee says that is not the case: They moved Atwater down one spot, and THEN they moved Atwater down two spots. Using this theory, it could take a No. 4 like Downey in D1 and drop it all the way to No. 12.
Atwater's crime? The same as Merced and Le Grand all are located too far from the Lodi-Sacramento axis that serves as the section's power base. I love 95 percent of the section's playoff format and it's added a great level of excitement to the regular season. What I don't like is when the seeding committee disregards the rules and begins to play favorites.
Time for the section to play by its rules, or give up its leadership role.