Photo credit: Liface at en.wikipedia
Late yesterday I was watching the NCAA East Preliminaries on my laptop and started to find myself agreeing with the big-time coaches who have been highly critical of this format. That’s a change for me, as I was critical of critics last year.
I have changed my position because yesterday’s program was lacking, well, basically each and every thing I appreciate as a fan. Team scoring? Nope. Great competition to see who can dig deep and break the tape? Nope. In fact, the elite runner has more incentive to shut it down than finish strong. Winning the round or the heat? Meaningless.
The only drama is the automatic qualifier cutoff — seeing folks battle it out for third or fourth place. My favorite moment on Thursday came from watching Princeton’s Austin Hollimon realize he was in trouble off the final turn of the 400. He turned things up about three notches in the final 75 meters, passing someone near the finish. It wasn’t even for a big ‘Q,’ so he had to wait it out to see if he did enough to earn his small ‘q.’ (He did by less than two-tenths of a second and will race again today.)
If the regional format is here to stay, what would HepsTrack do?
I would simply add a team-scoring incentive on, at least, the quarterfinal round at the regionals. The fastest time of the round gets four points applied to its overall NCAA Championship team score. Second-best time, that’ll get you two points. Take the bronze, take a point. The big-time coaches will be too busy coaching and evaluating to complain to the media.
Suddenly a team that does well in the regionals is taking a stack of points to Des Moines with them. At least then we’d be treated to something that is worth watching. Cuz what is going on at the regionals right now isn’t serving college track and field in any capacity.
If we applied the 4-2-1 team scoring, here are the team standings (East & West combined) after day one:
1. BYU, 7; 2. Florida State & Texas, 6; 4. Stanford, 5; 5. Auburn, Brown, Kansas, Liberty & Washington, 4; 10. Western Kentucky, 3; 11. Mississippi, Mississippi State & Purdue, 2 1/3; 14. Buffalo, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M & Texas, 2; 20. Arkansas, Baylor, Florida & Idaho State, 1.
1. Arizona, 6; 2. Louisiana Tech, TCU, Virginia Tech, Washington State, West Virginia & Wichita State, 4; 8. Georgia & Iowa State, 3; 10. Indiana, Florida & Eastern Michigan, 2 1/3; 13. Oklahoma, Southern Miss, Texas & Western Kentucky, 2; 17. Clemson, Ohio U., Oregon, Southern Illinois & Texas A&M, 1.