Yesterday I blasted the format of the NCAA preliminaries because they failed to foster either fan appreciation or the spirit of competition.
I suggested that a remedy for each would be to award championship points for the regional finals (which are the national quarterfinals). The post did not generate comments in the comment boxes, but I did get a few emails about it. One called it “stupid” and another called it “intriguing.”
Apparently the one that called it stupid enjoys watching boring track meets with nothing much on the line. Nothing much to root for. But the reason that track & field struggles as a spectator sport in this country is because most people don’t enjoy watching boring track meets with nothing much on the line.
There are meets that offer the excitement. I look at two with which I have been closely associated — Heps Championships and the Penn Relays. One is exciting because it means so much to the athletes to perform well for the team. The other is simply the opportunity to perform for and entertain a huge international and diverse crowd. Either way, the incentive is to leave it all on the track.
So yesterday I wrote that if I ruled college track with an iron fist:
The fastest time of the [regional final] 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.
If we applied the 4-2-1 team scoring, here are the team standings (East & West combined) after regional prelims
1. Florida State, 19
2. Florida, 14
3. Texas A&M & Virginia Tech, 12
5. BYU & Oregon, 11
7. Texas & Texas Tech, 10
9. LSU & Southern Cal, 9
11. Liberty & Oklahoma, 8
13. Mississippi State, 6 1/3
14. Alabama, Illinois, Kansas & Stanford, 5
18. Iowa, 4 1/2
19. Air Force, Arizona, Auburn, Brown, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami/Fla., Sam Houston State, South Florida, Villanova, Virginia, Washington, Washington State, 4
32. Mississippi, 3 1/3
33. Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas-Arlington & Western Kentucky, 3
37. Purdue, 2 1/3
38. Baylor, Buffalo, Cal-Irvine, Delaware State, Georgia, Houston, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State, South Carolina, TCU, Temple & Wisconsin, 2
54. Cincinnati & Clemson, 1 1/2
56. Arkansas, Butler, Central Michigan, Colorado, Idaho State, Indiana, New Mexico, Princeton, Tennessee, UCLA & UTEP, 1
67. Texas-San Antonio, 1/2
1. LSU, 22
2. Texas A&M, 19
3. Oregon, 13
4. Arkansas, 12 1/2
5. Auburn & Texas, 9
7. Southern Cal, 8 3/4
8. Arizona, 8
9. Clemson & Tennessee, 7
10. Arizona State, 6 3/4
11. Indiana, 6 1/3
12. Colorado, Kentucky, Penn State, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford & Virginia Tech, 6
19. UNLV, 5
20. Baylor, Florida State, Georgetown, Louisiana Tech, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, UCLA, Utah, Villanova, Virginia, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia, Wichita State, Yale, 4
36. Georgia, Iowa State, Miami/Fla. & Southern Illinois, 3
40. Florida & Eastern Michigan, 2 1/3
42. Cal-Riverside, Central Florida, East Carolina, Michigan State & Western Kentucky, 2
47. BYU & California, 1 3/4
49. Nebraska, 1 1/2
50. Boston College, Dartmouth, Kansas, Northwestern State, Ohio U., Princeton, Purdue, Stony Brook & Tulane, 1
By the way, the field events tell the tale of this pointless exercise:
• Georgia junior Brian Moore flew all the way to Bloomington to take a single javelin throw, one that wasn’t a winner but did qualify him for nationals.
• Teammates Chris Little and Victor Weirich of BYU ventured to Oregon to pole vault one time each.
• Texas A&M’s Laura Asimakis — so enamored with sitting in eighth place after three javelin throws — passed her last three opportunities to move up.
• The top 10 West Region long jumpers took advantage of four of their 30 opportunities to leap in rounds four, five and six and landed one legal, measured leap.
• Oregon’s Jamesha Youngblood took a single attempt in the long jump — good for third place — and then disappeared for the rest of the ‘competition.’ Since she was a member of the host team, perhaps she went back to her dorm for a nap while the others jumped.
• In the high jump and pole vault in both regions, 15 athletes never missed a leap and had no incentive to go higher.
If you don’t try to win, is it a ‘competition?’ Is it worth it for a fan to watch this?