The California Community College Athletic Association decided to revamp its football tier system in the North.
In an effort to improve the competition across the board, the CCCAA announced on Monday that the North will go from a three-tier system to two and six conferences to five. Three of the conferences will comprise the “A” tier and two will make up the “B” tier, with the changes becoming effective this fall.
All signs point toward the changes being a good thing for the Merced College football team and its bid to return to winning. The Blue Devils haven’t had a winning campaign in 16 years.
They’ll now be part of the seven-team Golden Coast Conference, consisting of Cabrillo, Gavilan, Monterey Peninsula, Hartnell, Reedley and West Hills. Four of the seven teams move up from the third tier. None of the seven collected more than MC’s four wins a year ago, with the group struggling to a 19-51 overall record.
“It doesn’t really change much for us, in the sense that the tier we were competing in wasn’t eligible to play for a state title,” Merced coach Bob Casey said. “I like that we play six conference games instead of four. It gives a little extra incentive to some of those early games and means you’re not waiting half a season before you finally get into conference.”
Casey said how the remaining four games on the schedule will be chosen remains to be seen, but the talk coming from the meetings was that an effort will be made to keep teams within their own tiers.
“We’re probably looking at some crossover games with the other conference,” Casey said. “Some of those teams like Contra Costa, Yuba and Redwoods I’ve never seen in my 11 years here, so that could be interesting.
“It sounded like they wanted to try and keep at least one of the local rivalries, so we could play a Modesto or Fresno, but I don’t anticipate we’ll see both anymore.”
The major drawback of the new system is that only two bowl games will be allotted for the second tier, meaning just four of the 14 teams will have a postseason opportunity. Still, after competing in the Golden Gate Conference the last few years, Casey likes his chances to make a run at those four spots.
“It hasn’t shown up in the win column, but we feel like we’ve been right there the last few years with a number of the teams that are going up to the top tier,” Casey said. “And we’ve had success against a lot of the ones that are staying. With them making an effort to make everyone’s schedule comparable, the opportunity is definitely there for us start having some winning seasons.
“If we do well enough, in two years they’ll reevaluate everyone, and we’ll have the opportunity to maybe move up to the top tier.”
Sun-Star staff writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or email@example.com.