The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
It was no surprise the College of San Mateo football team was one of the four teams selected for the Northern California regional playoff scheduled to begin this weekend.
After all, the Bulldogs wrapped up a third-straight, undefeated National Bay 6 Conference title with their 32-29 win over City College of San Francisco Sunday afternoon. It completed an 8-2 regular season and was ranked No. 4 in the state in the final regular-season JC Athletic Bureau coaches’ poll, even earning a vote for the No. 1 team in the state.
Yet when the semifinal pairings were announced Sunday night, CSM was saddled with a No. 3 seed and a road trip across the San Mateo Bridge to take on second-seeded Laney College-Oakland for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday. Laney finished in second place in the Bay 6 standings, behind the champion Bulldogs.
The other semifinal matches No. 4 Fresno City College (8-2), the National Valley Conference champ, versus No. 1 Butte College (9-1), the National NorCal Conference winner, at Shasta College, a game that was moved out of Butte’s hometown of Oroville because of the Camp Fire.
“I’m waiting for someone to explain it. The commissioners and committees and power rankings, they sort it out,” said CSM head coach Tim Tulloch. “Here’s the thing: Our guys have proven it on the field, won a conference championship in arguably the toughest conference in the state. … I’m sure the guys that make the decisions, they have some kind of plan or formula, but it’s something I’ve never seen. Our guys have earned it and proved it on the field. … We deserve to be at least the two seed.”
Northern California Football Conference commissioner Gary Kollenborn said, “The seedings for the playoffs are done by a power rank index.”
CSM went a perfect 5-0 in Bay 6 play and are riding a 15-game conference winning streak. The Bulldogs beat both Laney (28-18) and Fresno (31-3) this season. CSM is the second-highest ranked Northern California team in the state, just behind third-ranked Butte and is ranked ahead of both Laney (No. 6) and Fresno (No. 7).
Dave Silverstein, sports information director for the NCFC, said after the three conference champions fill three of the playoff spots, the fourth slot is given to the team that has the highest power ranking of all remaining teams, which in this case was Laney.
Organizers then use the power ranking of the four playoff teams to determine seedings.
Butte had a power rating number of .6356. Laney was second at .6305, a tenth of a point better than CSM’s .6205. Fresno came in fourth with a .6066.
Silverstein said the NCFC had tried its best to find a system that is the most equitable in choosing the top four teams in Northern California. But sometimes all the rules and regulations don’t cover every conceivable scenario.
“It’s just these weird things that keep happening,” Silverstein said. “We see a problem, we work on it. … This is the next problem that comes up.”
Laney’s only leg up on CSM is the Eagles beat American River 41-14, while the Bulldogs lost 18-13.
“[Laney] had more power points than we did, based on whatever formula you use,” Tulloch said. “But it doesn’t matter where [we] play, we’re still going to play Bulldog football.”