Editor’s note: This column is part of a continuing series examining how the current CIF playoff seeding system came to be and how that formula is applied to the athletic programs in Imperial Valley.
As sun sets on the 2018-19 high school athletic year, the just completed prep baseball season presents us with an interesting issue concerning the CIF San Diego Section’s placement of the Southwest and Calexico baseball teams.
Southwest’s placement in Division II and Calexico’s placement in D-IV caught our attention because they appeared to be exactly that, a literal placement.
Neither school’s placement reflected the divisions we have normally come to expect them to fall into based on their cumulative power-ranking numbers, weighted 50 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, over the previous three seasons.
The 2018 Eagles’ power ranking based on the CIF formula was 58.2, indicating a placement of first in D-IV and in a nod to our recent “game of decimal places” mantra, one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of West Hills at 58.3. (Lower numbers reflect a higher ranking in this case).
That is certainly as close to Division III as you can get, but nowhere near D-II as the CIF baseball divisional spreadsheet showed the other 19 teams in D-II power rankings ranging from 20.4 to 37.6.
Calexico, meanwhile, ended the 2018 campaign with a power ranking of 57, which should have kept them in D-III as the last team in.
Certainly, that Calexico wound up in D-IV was not outlandish, but Southwest leapfrogging from D-IV to D-II was highly irregular, especially since our case studies have all shown there to be a CIF “rule” whereby a team neither can rise nor fall more than one division per season.
So here we spent all this time working to understand CIF’s competitive era divisional power-ranking system, and then up pops this seemingly major anomaly regarding the placement of Southwest and Calexico.
Obviously, there is more to this than what can be deduced from just power rankings, and it is no coincidence that the two Valley schools’ divisional placements were affected by a mass transfer of players from Calexico to Southwest.
While student-athlete transfers are generally a rather routine occurrence covered by many CIF bylaws and policies, the sheer magnitude of the number of players involved, five, presented a situation the CIF office confirmed as unprecedented.
Also, bear in mind that CIF’s competitive system has only existed five years. It remains a work in progress that has rendered many of the bylaws and precedents from the previous 50-plus years moot in favor of developing new ones.
Next week, we’ll provide a detailed examination of how the transfers affected the schools, and how decisions by a State CIF Board of Appeals and the San Diego Section office revealed otherwise little-known policies and procedures that were applied to the situation.