CIF sets sights on increasing regional, state football bowl games

Eric Sondheimer
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CIF looks to expand state bowl games from five to 13, giving 51 section champions berths to regional playoffs

The California Interscholastic Federation continues to seek ways to increase fan and school interest in its state championship football bowl games, with the latest effort an expected increase in the number of teams participating in bowl games in 2015.

A proposal working its way through the 10 sections would increase the number of championship bowl games to 13 from its current five and give 51 schools that win section titles an automatic berth to regional bowl games.

"We will have games across the state," Roger Blake, CIF executive director, said that would be the case if the bowl proposal is approved.

The proposal would allow City Section schools in Division II and Division III to participate in bowl games for the first time.

Matchups would be decided by competitive balance, which should help prevent mismatches. The Open Division selections would be the only schools with a bye to the championship game.

The CIF has awarded the Open Division bowl game from 2015 through 2017 to Sacramento State, which will replace StubHub Center in Carson, the venue for the last nine years for all championship bowl games. Blake said the CIF will save about $80,000 the first year of its new three-year deal. The challenge will be to inject a "wow factor" at the new venue, Hornet Stadium, similar to StubHub Center.

Hornet Stadium seats 21,195 and has an all-weather field.

"What are we going to do when you walk out of the tunnel, 'Wow, this is the state championship game,' " he said.

Next year's championship bowl games are scheduled for Dec. 18-19.

Blake also has begun discussions on how to move up the sports calendar and perhaps begin the football season earlier than the last week of August. California and Texas are among the few states still playing football the weekend before Christmas.

"I think we need to look at all sports calendars and move them up," he said.

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