Forget Texas football fans whining they were left out of the BCS championship game berths that were awarded to Florida and Oklahoma.

We have our BCS-like controversy to deal with in the CIF San Diego Section before the CIF quadruple-header is played all day Friday with Division IV (Madison-Valley Center) at 10 a.m., Division III (Valhalla-Cathedral Catholic) at 1 p.m., Division II (Helix-Oceanside) at 4:30 p.m. and Division I (Escondido-La Costa Canyon) at 8 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

The new state football rankings by division came out this afternoon by ESPN Rise (formerly CalHiSports), and Cathedral Catholic maintains an edge over Oceanside as No. 1 among Division II schools in Southern California.

When former No. 1 Orange Luthern lost last week, Cathedral moved up to No. 1 and Oceanside followed at  No. 2. One of them, assuming they win their CIF San Diego Section championship game on Friday, will likely be invited to the 2008 State CIF Bowl Division II game next week against the No. 1 Division II school from Northern California.

The problem, though, is Cathedral is in Division III in the San Diego Section and Oceanside is in Division II. That means they’re playing separate championship games on Friday instead of answering the question head-to-head.

Cathedral (12-0), ranked No. 1 in San Diego, will face Valhalla (11-1), unranked.

Oceanside (11-0-1), ranked No. 2 in San Diego, will face Helix (10-1-1), ranked No. 3.

The race is so close for that state bowl bid that Mark Tennis, executive editor of ESPN Rise, is attending the CIF quadruple-header so he can see both Cathedral and Oceanside play before he makes final rankings Sunday morning.

Tennis’ rankings have long been considered for 30 years the most credible in the state n so much so ESPN Rise bought CalHiSports n and the rankings are used as a guide by the 10 CIF section commissioners when they vote.

Oceanside, which won the CIF State Bowl Division II title last year, allowed controversy to enter the picture when it was tied by Ramona in the regular-season finale after being ranked No. 1 in San Diego and Southern California Division II.

Had Ramona advanced to the Division III final to play Cathedral, that would provided ESPN Rise head-to-head results to go by to choose the No. 1 ranking between Cathedral and Oceanside. But Ramona was upset by Steele Canyon in the quarterfinals, leaving a murky situation to possibly come down to a vote.

The San Diego Section could have solved all this by moving Cathedral to Division II before the season started. Cathedral coach Sean Doyle says he faxed in a request to move up to Division II, but the CIF office says it never received the fax.

But if the CIF had been proactive, it might have inquired why Cathedral hadn’t sent in a fax since in previous years it had moved up from Division IV to Division III. Did the CIF assume with the powerhouse Cathedral has that it wanted to stay down in Division IV.

Imagine the gate that a Cathedral-Oceanside showdown would have generated if the game was for the CIF title as well as a state bowl bid. That’s all lost money the CIF San Diego Section could have made to pay bills.

If Oceanside and Cathedral played head to head, I’m not sure Cathedral has enough defense to beat the Pirates. But the Pirates have a tie against a team they should have defeated, so how do you rank them ahead of Cathedral’s unbeaten record?

I struggled with that decision before deciding to vote Cathedral No. 1 in the San Diego Section.

We’ll see how the games play out Friday. Maybe only one of the teams will have a convincing win to help settle the question.

Who would you vote No. 1 going into Friday championship?

By the way, don’t forget these games wouldn’t be played at Qualcomm without the Chargers paying the rent that the CIF office can’t afford. The Chargers anger a lot of their fans for a lot of reasons, but they’ve made the high school championship games at an NFL stadium possible — fulfilling the dream of so many kids — for more than the past decade.

— TOM SHANHAN

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