1974: Musical Chairs, Anyone?

San Diego High was in the playoffs and San Dieguito was out.

Oops, San Dieguito was  in and San Diego was out.

The seeds of a legislative tempest had germinated in the spring when the San Diego Section Coordinating Council requested that the County Football Coaches’ Association prepare an analysis of the 1973 playoffs.

Point Loma’s Bennie Edens, Kearny’s Birt Slater, and Oceanside’s Herb Meyer, the Association’s current President, created a white paper.

The document concluded that the postseason was a financial and artistic success, but the coaches noted a pesky loophole.

There had been no provision in the 1973 playoff structure for the handling of a three-way tie for first place in leagues that were allotted only two playoff berths.

The coaches suggested that tri-champions in a league with two playoff berths be given priority over second- and third-place teams from leagues with three playoff berths, with rotational  alternatives in succeeding seasons.


The issue never got out of committee, as they say in politics.  “Although the recommendation was considered, it was never passed,” said El Capitan principal Bill Davis, representing the Grossmont League on the San Diego Section coordinating council.

Crawford principal Dick Jackson disagreed:  “…there was a general  feeling among the council members considering the recommendation that it was a good one and should be passed.”

Jackson believed the recommendation by the coaches was adopted in principle, but no written record of the endorsement went on to the CIF board of managers.

Apparently the CIF playoff seeding committee did not get the memo.  The seeds and pairings reflected the coaches’ recommendation.  Thus,  San Diego (6-3), which tied for the Western League championship, was in, and San Dieguito (5-4), third in the Avocado League, was out.

“We always get a raw deal,” screamed San Dieguito coach Grant Gaunce to Steve Brand of The San Diego Union.

Not to worry, coach.

Gaunce was assuaged a couple days later when the CIF Board of Managers reversed the decision by the playoff committee, which set off other reactions.

About 75 San Diego High students attended a San Diego Board of Education meeting later in the week to complain about their team’s treatment.  A student who spoke on behalf of the group said it had gathered 850 signatures in the first 20 minutes after hearing of the decision.

A parent of one of the players said it was “cruel” to raise the kids hopes on Saturday, then arbitrarily pull the rug out from underneath them.

Board members indicated they were sympathetic to San Diego High’s situation but that a decision was not within their authority.

San Diego coach Shan Deniston was stunned.  “I must go to the wrong church,” he said.

San Dieguito was ushered out by Vista in the first round, 24-0.

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