Pleasanton Preps: NCS still stands for 'No Common Sense'

New football playoff format shows the more things change, the more they stay the same

I think over the years my two favorite sayings have been, "It is what it is" and "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

"It is what it is" has always been a favorite as I am a firm believer that you should only worry about what you can control and not let the things you don't control burden you down.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same" applies to many things in life, but to me, it has always been about the disaster that is decision-making by ruling organizations of high school athletics.

The North Coast Section and the California Interscholastic Federation are the two organizations that control high school sports for the section that Amador Valley and Foothill fall into.

In my 20 years as a sportswriter/editor for the Tri-Valley Herald, I spent countless hours sitting in NCS at-large and seeding meetings for the playoffs. There have been many times I left shaking my head at some of the decisions handed down.

This year may have taken it to a new level. In football, NCS opted for a new Open Division, as there is an Open Division in the CIF State Bowl games. In the past, you needed to be a section champ to advance to the NorCal playoffs and have a chance to advance to the CIF State Bowl games.

Last year, the old way stung Foothill, as the Falcons went through the regular season unbeaten, only to fall in the Division I finals to De La Salle in a game where the Falcons gave the Spartans all sorts of problems.

De La Salle then went to the Open Division, but Foothill's season ended because they were not a section champion. A boneheaded procedure to be sure, and a disservice to the Falcons as they very realistically had a good chance to advance to the state finals.

This year NCS decided to have an "Open" division, as well as the Division 1-5 tournaments. Four teams were selected to participate in the Open NCS playoffs. OK, things are simple enough -- win your Division and move on to the NorCal and have a chance at the State Bowl game.

Not so fast.

If you advance to the Open finals at the section level and lose, you can displace the Division I champion and move on to the NorCal playoffs. This year, it could be another East Bay Athletic League team that gets dumped on by NCS.

Monte Vista has but one loss -- a 45-17 final to De La Salle in a game much closer than the final score indicated. They have a loaded, talented team, yet even if they beat a very good Antioch team in the Division I finals and win a section title, their season is over.

How is that fair?

This ineptitude directly affects Amador Valley and Foothill moving forward. People scream about a competitive imbalance between De La Salle and everyone else. This adds to the fire for if the Spartans continue winning and go to the Open bowl game, the Division I champion is rendered worthless.

There is a simple solution out there, but I would be shocked if it was implemented. For some reason, there were no Division I or Open Division games during Thanksgiving weekend. The championship games are set for this Friday and Saturday.

Had the games been played last weekend, then a game could be played between the D-I winner -- this year either Monte Vista or Antioch -- and the Open loser, likely Freedom.

That way the D-I representative would be decided on the field and not in a boardroom. Let's give the athletes the right to represent themselves.

For many years now NCS meant "No Common Sense" to me, and over the years it has not changed. In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact Miller or submit local high school sports scores, game highlights and photographs for his weekly Pleasanton Preps column, email him at

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