Breaking down Oregon in the 2010-2011 Directors' Cup

The final standings were released last Friday for the 2010-2011 NACDA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.

A bit of background for the uninitiated. The cup is awarded each year to the Athletic Departments that produce the most points (by the NACDA's own metrics) for the athletic success of their programs in each Division. Points awarded based on how your program finished in a particular sport. 100 points for finishing first, 90 for finishing second, then a declining balance from there depending on how many teams finish in the final rankings.

This year Oregon finished 30th out of 284 ranked Division I teams (FBS and FCS are combined) with 640.75 points from 10 sports. By contrast over the previous 3 years Oregon finished  26, 22, and 14. Last year was Oregon's highest ever ranking with 878.50. That drop off seems pretty steep until you look at how the school finished from 2004 to 2006 (60, 54, 63).

Stanford has been the dominating force (pdf link) in the Directors Cup, being awarded the last 16 titles. That's every year, except the first year it was handed out in 1994. The reason is not only that Stanford has a lot of athletic teams (34 to Oregon's 18) but they also do pretty damn well, as I'll discuss below.

I think it's worth taking a look into this years rankings. Last year, only weeks into his new job Rob Mullens gave an interview to Ron Bellamy of the Register Guard where he repeatedly mentioned the Directors' Cup and gave this quote,

Q: Being high in the Director’s Cup means something to you?

A: Absolutely. Because it measures overall competitive excellence against your peers.

Now obviously there are many more metrics than the success of your teams to evaluate an Athletic Department, but Mullens has identified this as a metric he has concerned himself with. And like me, he's an accountant, so I'm sure he's broken down the numbers himself.

If you're tired of talking Willie Lyles this may be just the break you need.

While Oregon may have finished 30th out of all ranked Division I schools it finished 8th among Pac 10 (and Pac 12) teams.

The Break Down of the Top 30 by conference is as follows

  • Pac 10 - 8
  • Big Ten - 7
  • SEC - 6
  • ACC - 5
  • Big 12 - 3Big East - 1 (Which is actually Notre Dame)

So there you have it, the Pac 10, the Conference of Champions (of non-revenue sports). Actually if you made this the top 25, the SEC comes out on top still with 6, if you go top 10, the ACC wins with 4. So spin it whichever way you like. Also, Auburn came 31st. Mullens' former school, Kentucky, finished 36th... helped immensly by a national championship in Rifle.

If you want to see where the other Pac 10 teams beat out Oregon for points you can look at sports like Women's Rowing, Men's and Women's Tennis, Men's and Women's Water Polo, Women's Soccer, Women's Volleyball and Men's Gymnastics

Now, the Ducks aren't going to be able to compete in sports they don't play, and the school doesn't have the size to support a lot of those other non-revenue sports (though who wouldn't want a Women's Bowling team?). But what does stick out compared to last year are the sports where the Ducks were left with a bagel. The sports where the Ducks finished in a position to get no points in the Directors' Cup standings were:

  • Women: Acrobatics & Tumbling (not included as a ranked sport); Lacrosse, Soccer, Volleyball, Tennis, and Basketball
  • Men:  Baseball, Tennis, and Basketball (even with a CBI Championship Banner!)

The sports that really stick out there are the two Basketball programs, Baseball, and Volleyball. While not all revenue sports, these sports do draw crowds. And it's easier to draw a crowd when you're good.

To contrast that to Stanford, the Cardinal did not count 9th place finishes in Women's Lacrosse and Field Hockey in arriving at their total. (The Cup regulations allow you to score a maximum of 10 men's and 10 women's teams in the final rankings). There were programs on both sides at Stanford that earned points that didn't qualify for the top 10.

So where did the Ducks draw their points from? On the Women's side it was 357 points from 5 teams (71.4 average) for the men, 324.75 points from 5 teams (64.995 average). The top performing team was Women's Track with a first place indoor finish and a 2nd place outdoor finish. Football's 3rd place finish netted 85 points.

In the grand scheme of things, does this mean a whole lot? Probably not. Women's Volleyball netted no points despite being one of the better teams in the country. They just happened to be burdened with playing in the Pac-10. It was too little too late for Baseball, and I think we all know the Basketball teams are currently in a "building for the future" stage. The drop off from last year is disappointing but it shows just how much this school out punched it's weight last year. When going up against schools with nearly twice as many programs, your teams have to perform for the department to rank in these standings.

It also serves to highlight just how important track and cross country remain to be for the University of Oregon. Of the 10 programs contributing points Track and Cross Country accounted for 6, as well as 63% of the total points earned. Hopefully Mr. Mullens can find a way to take advantage of that brand.

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