Central Section division realignment and controversy -- predictable partners -- have merged again in the the latest move to achieve competitive equity.
The process of adjusting divisions for playoff purposes is done in two-year cycles, and it's based on a point system that combines the two most recent seasons of league and playoff results.
The first proposal for fall sports in the next cycle, effective for the 2012 season, finds hot spots in the hottest of all sports -- football. The proposal includes:
- Kingsburg, with 1,054 students, playing in D-II. Enrollments range from 1,772 (Clovis North) to 3,276 (Sunnyside) in 13 of the division's 17 schools. The Vikings won D-IV in 2009 and D-III in '10 and '11.
Enrollments range from 1,216 (Kerman) to 2,485 (Arvin) in 11 of the division's 19 schools.
- Shafter, with 1,493 students, dropping from D-IV to D-V. Enrollments range from 454 (Sierra Pacific) to 755 (Woodlake) in eight of the division's 13 schools.
Much will be discussed before fall-sport divisions are finalized in May.
The initial proposal has been crafted by section Commissioner Jim Crichlow and his three area assistants.
The first reading of the draft will be taken Jan. 25 by the section's Board of Managers, a 35-member group with one male and one female representative from each league as well as elected officers, three superintendents and a school board member.
The board will then vote in May before opening a 15-day window for schools to appeal.
Clovis North -- with returning quarterback Christian Rossi and several stars off its 9-3 team -- likely will volunteer to move up to D-I, a request that would be accepted automatically, Crichlow says.
"I'd much rather compete in D-I," Broncos coach Cory Hall says. "And, with the guys coming back, we'll be right in the mix."
Important to remember is the point system-based realignment system, while originally created by Crichlow and his assistants two years ago, was overwhelmingly approved by the Board of Managers.
And it remains the board's call.
As Crichlow said in the beginning, regarding the role of his staff: "We're employed by the schools and we'll do whatever's right for the kids. This isn't personal."
He also has said the longtime former routine of simply drawing divisions by enrollment would relieve his staff of considerable work, though he does believe the current process better levels the field while separating perennial strength from perennial weakness.
But the questions remain the same:
- Does this punish the overachievers while rewarding the underachievers?
Hanford's girls basketball program refuted that notion, winning the D-I title last season after winning D-II and D-III crowns previously.
Now we'll see how the Bullpups -- whose enrollment of 1,653 is much smaller than most in D-I -- hold up in the postseason following the departure of four-year star Madison Parrish.
Kingsburg football offers a slightly different scenario.
The Vikings won D-IV (2009) and D-III (2010) championships behind superstar quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Garrett Steele before capturing yet another D-III title this past season sans blue chippers.
In fact, it can be said that Kingsburg's Dave Steele delivered an even more impressive coaching effort this time than in 2010, when he was The Bee's Coach of the Year.
But he is torn on the D-II promotion and says the school probably will petition to remain in D-III.
"It's nice that they feel we can play with other schools, which I think we can," he says. "But if we keep winning, where does it end? Will we be D-I in three years?
"Problem is, once you're up, you [generally] stay up, and you basically have to lose all your games to go back down. We're a small town that's going to cycle [talented] kids in and out. It's a numbers game, and there's a huge disparity [in D-II]."