Thursday, June 30, 2022

Cup Stuff

Apparently, the University of Mississippi was the last team in for the NCAA baseball tournament draw.

Then Ole Miss went on to win the Men's College World Series. It happens. It's probably a bit more impressive in baseball, which is double-elimination, meaning you need the kind of pitching depth that would probably have you solidly in the tournament come the selections, not to mention having to beat the best teams twice instead of once, which is infinitely easier.

Baseball was the last sport remaining to be added to the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, and the NACDA website said that the final standings would be released either June 28 or 29. TigerBlog eagerly awaited the results to see if Princeton would indeed be 18th, as he said when he recently did the baseball math.

Alas, it doesn't seem the final standings were out yesterday. Hopefully today.

In case you were wondering where Princeton has finished every year since the Directors' Cup began in 1994, you've come to the right place. 

What kind of self-respecting historian wouldn't have that information.

2022 - ??
2019 – 30

2018 - 40
2017 - 48

2016 - 33
2015 - 41

2014 - 44
2013 - 35

2012 - 39
2011 - 38

2010 - 32
2009 - 40

2008 - 60
2007 - 63

2006 - 47
2005 - 42

2004 - 33
2003 - 34

2002 - 21
2001 - 24

2000 - 57
1999 - 31

1998 – 25
1997 – 60

1996 – 23
1995 – 29

1994  - 34

At one point, it was the Sears Directors' Cup, named, presumably, for the Sears Roebuck retail company and not the all-time leading scorer in Princeton's women's lacrosse history (who hadn't been born yet, by the way). Then it briefly became the United States Sports Academy Directors Cup before the current sponsor, Learfield Sports, took over in 2007.

The Cup is meant to recognize the top overall athletic programs in college athletics by awarding points for NCAA championship participation and success. Princeton prides itself on both of those, and its record through the years suggests that the athletic program has been quite a nationally competitive one.

What's better, all the years finishing in the top 30, or never finishing below 63? Keep in mind, this is every program in the country, and the top of the standings are dominated by Power Five programs.

Princeton has been the highest finishing Ivy League school in all but three of these years. It's regularly the highest finishing FCS school, and pretty much every year the top finishing non-Power Five school is either Princeton or BYU, which becomes a Power Five school when it joins the Big 12 a year from now.

The 2021-22 athletic year began with great uncertainty, since there was very little in the way of Ivy League sports a year earlier. Who knew what would have happen after a year away? 

Well, what happened at Princeton was extraordinary. There were 16 teams that won their league championship, including 13 in Ivy League sports. Those 16 championships equaled the all-time Princeton and Ivy League record, set in 1999-2000, back when Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack was a senior.

Princeton found itself having to play catch-up this year after Harvard was the top Ivy school after the fall and the winter. In the final fall standings, Princeton was tied with Rutgers for 28th, while Harvard was 18th. After the winter, Princeton had moved up to 19th, but Harvard had moved up to 16th.

Then came the massively incredible Princeton spring.

The Tigers had 484.75 points through the end of the winter. They put up 383.5 more in the spring alone. Were the rules different for scoring, Princeton would have even more.

The way it works is that a school can get points in a maximum of 19 sports, but four of those are mandated to be men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and women's volleyball. Princeton did not reach the NCAA tournament in three of those, so it only received points in its 16 highest scoring sports.

Princeton vaulted into 15th place prior to the release of the final update, which was waiting on the baseball championship. Princeton also is the top Ivy school (21 spots ahead of Harvard), top FCS school and top non-Power Five school.

Will Princeton be 18th? Will Princeton beat its 21st place finish of 2001-02? 

It looks like that won't be known until today.

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