There’s a vibe out there among those who closely follow the Catholic Athletic Association’s high school football re-leaguing process that one more twist or turn is coming.
It’s the same vibe that one might get while watching a cinematic thriller that fools you into thinking the ending is obvious before one final act shatters all preconceived notions and leaves the audience with its mouth open.
In theory, the final act to this saga should have already been played out when the CAA met on Tuesday and in a close vote put forth its latest and final proposal for league alignments that would span the next four years.
On April 30, the CIF-Southern Section council will meet to ratify the new leagues and move forward in the process of cementing things so that the next order of business — the new playoff groupings proposals — can take place in May.
One problem, though. Cathedral High School is going to appeal the CAA’s league proposal. Big deal, you say. Appeals rarely win, right? And how can one win an appeal on the very deadline day that everything needs to be finalized?
Well, this is where the aforementioned final twist will take place. In the eyes of this reporter, Cathedral stands a very good chance to win its appeal and if I were St. Francis, I would be getting my argument against joining the Pac-5 Division ready because you’re likely to need it.
At issue is Cathedral’s placement in what’s being called the Catholic South League along with Bishop Amat, Loyola and Serra. The Phantoms don’t feel they belong at the Pac-5 level. It’s the same argument Salesian recently made in its successful appeal, which led to this latest proposal.
Basically, the CAA’s solution was to swap Salesian for Cathedral. That’s not going to work either. At least it shouldn’t. No matter how one feels about how Cathedral and Salesian do business, it’s hard to make an argument that either is more Pac-5 ready than St. Francis.
How St. Francis has avoided being fingered as the team that should be moving up to fill the final spot in the Catholic South League is a total mystery. Personally, I don’t think that any of the trio of Cathedral, Salesian and St. Francis belong in the Pac-5. But if somebody’s gotta do it, the numbers don’t lie and it should be St. Francis.
The Knights are 3-1 against Cathedral over the past four years and the lone loss was by two points. The Knights have finished above Cathedral in the Mission League in three of the past four years.
Some will argue that Cathedral, with its penchant for attracting transfers and supposed craftiness in helping with the financial burden of attending a private school, is better equipped to handle the leap than St. Francis, which is expensive, doesn’t offer much in terms of aid and rarely gets transfers.
While there may be a lot of truth to that, the problem for St. Francis is that it will get laughed off the stage if it tries to use that argument before the council. The main thing that will be considered is competitive equity and Cathedral has a heck of a case if it goes that route and suggests St. Francis be the program to round out the Catholic South.
What high school football fans are witnessing here is actually a microcosm of one of the major plagues of the CAA. So many of the schools in the group frown upon the others for the way they do business.
While some athletic programs abstain from playing the recruiting/athletic scholarship game and ultimately pay the price in terms of wins and losses, others are consistently accused of recruiting or luring top talent, some of which is in the form of transfers. Those schools are the ones winning championships. Ain’t that right, St. John Bosco?
It’s quite the contradiction. Behind closed doors and under their breath, certain CAA schools often entertain the idea and bounce around the concept of starting their own entity separate from CIF. We’ve all heard it at some point.
But how can that happen if nobody can seem to agree on the proper way to do business? How can that happen if you base league placements on which schools play the recruiting game better? How can that happen if there’s contradiction all over the place?
From Damien and St. Bonaventure’s arbitration hearing win and subsequent exclusion from the parochial area to Cathedral and Salesian claiming they can’t be in the same league as each other to now St. Francis being shielded from being the obvious team to round out a league, it’s been a fiasco of a year for the Catholic parochial schools.
One of several things can happen at the council meeting on April 30. Cathedral could lose its appeal and further drama will be avoided. But if the Phantoms win, then there’s a live chance that the council will decide the fate of the CAA leagues.
It’s never good to leave your fate in somebody else’s hands. It’s never a good feeling to let somebody do your thinking for you. But that’s exactly what might happen and probably should at this point.
This council meeting is supposed to be for the simple process of ratifying league proposals that are well thought out and not contradictory. Instead, you can bet there will be fireworks and probably one final twist.