July 16, 2008

SI's alternative to the Director's Cup - Minnesota 5th in Big Ten

SI published their top 25 overall collegiate programs today. This is really a simplified version of the Director's Cup. I find these kind of rankings interesting. For obvious reasons football and basketball get all of the attention. If you live in the midwest you'll find more fans of hockey and even wrestling. And if you live in the south baseball is higher profile. But all of the minor sports get lost when evaluating the strength of collegiate athletic programs.

Here is a comparison of Big Ten teams in the rankings...

Director's Cup
Sports Illustrated
3 Michigan
6 Penn St
9 Penn St
12 Michigan
11 Ohio St
23 Wisconsin
18 Wisconsin
29 Mich St
28 Minnesota
36 Minnesota
29 Mich St
47 Ohio St
34 Illinois
48 Purdue
35 Purdue
50 Indiana
39 Indiana
NR Illinois
40 Nortwhestern
NR Northwestern
50 Iowa
NR Iowa

Basically if you are Penn State or Michigan State you understand that SI figured out how to accurately judge overall programs. If you are Ohio State or Michigan then you understand that SI doesn't know anything about sports and they should just stick to swimsuits. And if you are Iowa you still suck.

Really I like the simplicity of the SI rankings but it needs just a bit more. In a nutshell they awarded points in 22 sports (11 mens, 11 womens) for national championships (10 points), conference championships (5 pts) and top 30 finishes (2 pts). What this is missing it doesn't reward teams for very good seasons that don't end in winning a title. For instance Illinois goes to the Rose Bowl yet earns a total of two points for their season for being ranked. Purdue goes 15-4 in Big Ten basketball and has next to nothing to show for it. Taking it to the national level Memphis doesn't get extra points for being the #2 team in the country? Texas is a 2 seed, goes to Elite Eight and gets 2 points for their entire season (same as Michigan State?!).

Interesting system, it makes for good discussion and validates my arguments with friends or other bloggers that Minnesota is a vastly superior program to Nebraska, Iowa or Kentucky. But it needs to be expanded just a little bit. A sliding scale for final rank or for finishing top 3 in your conference would reward successful seasons without giving points away to terrible teams. Minnesota should not receive any points for football or a mediocre basketball season. But in my examples above Illinois should get a bump for a great football season and Purdue deserves more than two points for their basketball season.

Your thoughts?

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