OCC football schedule softens

A realignment of community college football divisions in Southern California should allow Orange Coast College to achieve more success, beginning this fall.

The Southern California Football Assn. governing body expanded a two-division format to three divisions, shifting OCC from a spot among the top 21 teams in Southern California to a 12-team second tier that has two six-team divisions.

The two-division top tier, also with 12 teams, includes OCC's former division rivals Saddleback, Fullerton, Grossmont and Palomar. The third division (lower tier) has 13 teams.

OCC, which spent the last two season in the six-team Southern Conference of the National Division (top-tier), is now in the East Conference of the second-tier Central Division.

OCC is aligned in a conference with Santa Ana, Golden West, Riverside, College of the Desert and Southwestern of San Diego. The only holdover from last season is Santa Ana.

The Pirates' nonconference schedule includes Saddleback, Long Beach, Los Angeles Harbor, Grossmont and San Diego Mesa.

"The schedule isn't what we've played in the past," OCC Coach Mike Taylor said.

OCC has taken its lumps in the rugged Southern Conference the last two years, compiling a combined record of 1-11. In nonconference games during the last two seasons, OCC was 8-0.

"It's good," said Taylor, who admitted that the typical second-half swoon that has befallen his program due to the rugged conference schedule, is no longer likely. "The schedule is easier than playing Cerritos, Fullerton, Grossmont, Saddleback, Long Beach and Mt. San Antonio."

Still, Taylor said he did not lobby for such a change.

"My deal is, we'll play whoever," Taylor said. "We're not going to whine. We just play our schedule and see how it goes."

How it went in terms of the recent realignment is a bit of mystery to Taylor, who helped oversee the original shift to two divisions before the 2008 season as president of the coaches assn.

This time, power rankings, based on records, were supposed to be the guideline for dividing the divisions, Taylor said.

Yet Los Angeles Harbor, which finished No. 12 in the power rankings, was dropped to the middle division. OCC, No. 13 in the power rankings, was not moved up when, instead, it was decided to move No. 14-ranked Pasadena into the 12-team top tier.

"I didn't decide anything," Taylor said. "The powers that be decided. We play a bunch of people we haven't played in awhile and we've got some [road] trips. We go to Riverside, Grossmont and College of the Desert this year. I guess we'll be ordering a lot of sandwiches [for the bus ride home]."

The current format is scheduled to last two seasons. Then, alignment will begin again, Taylor said.

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