Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lightweight Rankings

As alert readers have noted, the lightweight women's Coaches' Poll has been released. I don't think there are any real surprises among the top 10, with the top five being Princeton, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Radcliffe, and UCF. Bucknell comes in at 6th, and this highlights a difference between the poll and what I try to do on FITD. On FITD I try to rank crews as they race through the season. For that reason I can't slot in a crew that hasn't raced other boats in the top 10, like Bucknell. The poll, as I understand it, is really a current view of how the coaches think the season will end up. Although we don't know if Bucknell will race the IRA, if they do we all suspect the boat will be fast. Hence, they get ranked in the coaches' poll, but not here.

The coaches seem to agree that Stanford's 2006 was an aberration and they're back. Oddly enough Marist, which I don't think will be racing a light eight this year, comes in at 15. While not ranked, Tulsa, which only raced a four, received some votes for an eight. Removing those two crews, however, still gives us 21 boats that received votes in the poll. That's a lot of boats! I know, I know, the speed varies widely among those boats, but growing numbers isn't a bad place to start. Compare that to the DII poll - and those boats have their own NCAA championship.

I think that I will turn over the rankings in my sidebar to you, the readers, competitors, and coaches. If I can have a poll here at the season start (as I did), midway through, and just before IRAs, I think that would be more meaningful than my own opinion. For this to work, we need to follow an honor code which says, vote once, vote for all ten places, and vote your head, not your heart. I think you'll do that, and that will give us the best poll in rowing. I start to run out of space, but I'll do it for fours as well, maybe a week later.

Speaking of Bucknell, last year when I questioned Bucknell's policy of not racing their light eight against lightweights (other than one race), but racing against heavyweight jayvees, I was reprimanded a bit and told they did it because there wasn't enough competition in the lightweight league. Neighbors Georgetown, Radcliffe, Princeton, et al. didn't seem to have that problem, but ok, let's go with it. Now comes this year and I'm struggling to reconcile what is happening with last year's explanation. This year Bucknell races the top ranked lightweight eight in the nation, but boats only heavyweights. Is Princeton not competition for the Bucknell lights? Then how can they be competition for the heavies? Do the lights beat the heavies? Then, Bucknell races Temple's lights, and boats a light eight. Temple is not in the top 15 of a league that Bucknell has complained offers no competition. I struggle to understand. Maybe it's this - Bucknell's lights had no competition last year so they raced heavies. Bucknell's heavies have too much competition this year so they race lights. Is that it? How then, do we explain the Temple lightweight race?

Look, I'd rather see Bucknell jump into IRAs at the end of the season than skip it. But what I'd really rather see is some lightweight leadership from the Bucknell administration. With some of the best lightweight athletes and one of the fastest boats in the country, the Bison should be an example of how to strengthen the category, not how to game the system. As once great lightweight events languish for lack of entries at the San Diego Crew Classic (life support), Dad Vail (life support), and ECAC (dead), I fear someone is using, not supporting, the category to burnish a resume.


Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned this on an earlier blog comment, but Bucknell is in danger of violating NCAA rules. Crews that race at national championships have to have raced in their boat with at least 75% of the rowers having rowed together prior to the championship.

Also, there is a limit to the number of coaches on staff per team. If they are carrying extra coaches (for the lightweight team) but not racing a lightweight boat, then they are exceeding the coaching limits for their entire team.

Anonymous said...

One way you could work the ratings system is have the poll in the sidebar and allow the poll to figure into a calculation for rankings like the RPI in basketball is calculated based on factors like past results as well as the AP and coachs poll.

JW Burk said...

1st comment: I remember that comment too. Perhaps that's why they raced Temple and the Radcliffe 2V. I'm not sure how NCAA rules figure into the IRA, but the coaching limit would apply to the heavyweights in any case.

2nd comment: That's a good idea, but the data collection requirements seem pretty onerous. On the other hand, cMax collects results and essentially does the ranking based on results. We could do something like the BCS polls, combining the coaches' poll, the FITD readers' poll, and the computer poll (cMax). That's probably what you're talking about anyway. The problem, though, is that I think it's too much to ask to run it every week. Three times a season is about the best I could expect people to do, maybe it would even have to be less when I add in a poll for fours.