The contrast took me aback.
If Notre Dame becomes the NCAA champion in football, the Fighting Irish will need 13 games to do it.
Last Friday, Granite Bay of Sacramento became the CIF state championship in Division 1 by playing and winning its 16th football game.
It takes three more games to win a high school state championship than the biggest prize in college athletics? What da hey? That's just not an imbalance. That's illogical, absurd, dangerous and, frankly, disgusting. Playing three more high school football games is very different than playing three more high school basketball games or baseball games or soccer games. No one calls basketball, baseball or soccer a violent sport, although violence can happen.
A 16-year old body is literally a work under construction.
"A 16-year old is typically nearing the end of his growth spurt," said Dr. Ty Affleck, team physician for Sonoma State and Santa Rosa JC. "But there are open growth platelets because, while the bones have stopped growing, the muscles supporting them are still being developed. Consequently, the bones are prone to cracking or fracturing because they don't have the necessary strength around them to support them. That's why when athletes go off to college, the first thing coaches do is get them in the weight room to develop that strength."
I interviewed NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon and three Empire high school head coaches, Cardinal Newman's Paul Cronin, St. Vincent's Gary Galloway and Casa Grande's Trent Herzog. None thought a high school kid playing 16 football games in a season is a good idea.
"I'd love to have a study conducted," Herzog said, "of the academic progress of a player for the first six weeks of the season compared to the last six weeks of the season. When the body gets tired, the mind gets tired. Think of what we ask of them. Two hours of practice. Half hour of film. Half hour of class. That's three hours a day. Five days a week. For 16 weeks (counting training camp)."
"We played 15 games when we went to state in 2006," Cronin said. "We saw the kids getting tired. We had to change our practice routine to keep them crisp. We started with no contact on Monday. We now have no contact Thursday or Friday, either. On Tuesday and Wednesday we have a total 45-60 minutes of uncontrolled contract. That's it."
"It is a concern," Lemmon said of the season's length. "We have to continue to monitor the situation."
"That is too long," Galloway said of a 16-game season. "But what are you going to do?"
Cronin has a proposal. Hold two playoffs once the regular season ends at 10 games.
One playoff will contain the top eight teams in each division in Northern California. The teams will be ranked by Cal Preps, which Cronin called a credible source. The Northern California winner then plays the Southern California winner for the state championship.
The other playoff will be for section championships, the playoff brackets filled with teams ranked ninth or lower by Cal Preps. Four things will be accomplished.
"You reduce the season (for a state champion) from 16 games to 14 games," said Cronin, thereby decreasing the opportunity of injury on open-growth platelets.
"You make the first-round games much more competitive," Cronin said.