Capital One Cupdate

In prior years, these pieces were pretty straightforward: Stanford's on pace to win its umpteenth Directors' Cup. This year, that is again true, but there's the new Rece Davis Capital One Cup, advertised endlessly on ESPN, where Stanford is very much in a dogfight. How does it look?

Much of the reason the Worldwide Leader created this Capital One Cup, instead of promoting the Directors' Cup, appears to stem from a desire to create a competition so that Stanford doesn't win annually running away. Stanford fans might substitute "rig" for "create" in the above sentence, and they wouldn't be altogether incorrect. Here are some key differences in the two Cups:

Unlike in the Directors' Cup, men's and women's sports are separated in the Capital One Cup, all the better to give other teams shots on the men's side, even if the Stanford women blow out the field, which will happen many seasons. Also, sports are given single, double or triple weights, which, while hurting Stanford, admittedly does make sense in theory. Judging by fan support, budget, number of teams which compete in the sport, visibility, or even the number of athletes in the sport (for football, at least), football should receive more weight than water polo, even though that will hurt Stanford in most non-2011 years. Still, some of the weights are arbitrary, and in decidedly non-random ways: Stanford always seems to suffer. Double weight, for example, is conferred upon lacrosse, a sport with markedly regional appeal and most colleges failing to field a team. (Stanford has only a women's team.) Perhaps most egregiously, water polo and gymnastics are altogether excluded, while men's ice hockey makes the cut. Stanford, of course, regularly wins national titles in both sports, and, sure enough, its two national titles this season just so happened to come in women's water polo and men's gymnastics.

Additionally, the Capital One Cup is graded on a more extreme curve, which also introduces randomness. In the Capital One Cup, get hot and win a national title in a few big sports (like Florida, which captured both the football and men's basketball titles in 2007) and you're well on your way to a top finish. The Capital One Cup is on a 20/12/10 scale for first, second and third place finishes, and only awards points for top-ten finishes. The Directors' Cup, meanwhile, gives 100/90/85 for first, second and third, and awards points to up to 64 teams in a sport. Whether you'd rather deem the program with seven top-five finishes or the one with two national championships to have the better season is subjective; what's beyond doubt is that the Capital One Cup will more often give the crown to the first team while the Directors' Cup, will more often award the title to the second team, i.e. Stanford, because of its unmatched depth in its 30-plus varsity sports.

With that background in mind, here's the fun part – current scores and projected final standings.

Men's
Triple weight
Football – fourth, 8 points
Baseball – 17th, 0 points
Basketball – no place, 0 points
Weighted total: 8*3 = 24 points

Double weight
Swimming – third, 10 points
Lacrosse - N/A
Outdoor track - 11th, 0 points
Soccer – no place, 0 points
Weighted total: 10*2 = 20 points

Single weight
Cross country – fourth, 8 points
Tennis – seventh, 4 points
Indoor track – eighth, 3 points
Wrestling – 11th, 0 points
Golf – no place, 0 points
Ice hockey - N/A
Weighted total: 15 points
Projected total: 59 points

Women's
Triple weight
Basketball – fourth, 8 points
Volleyball – fifth, 6 points
Softball – 10th, 1 point
Weighted total: 15*3 = 45 points

Double weight
Soccer – 2nd, 12 points
Swimming – 4th, 8 points
Lacrosse – 10th, 1 point
Outdoor track – 14th, no points
Weighted total: 21*2 = 42 points

Single weight
Tennis – second, 12 points
Rowing – second, 12 points
Cross country – 13th, no points
Indoor track – 15th, no points
Field hockey – 19th, no points
Golf – 23rd, no points
Weighted total: 24 points

Projected total: 111 points

On both the men's and women's sides, Stanford scored the most unweighted points in the single-weight category, the second-most in the double-weight category, and the least in the triple-weight category. So this scoring system is really working against us here. Plus, there's the small matter of two national championships and men's volleyball's top-10 finish not counting. Nonetheless, the men are currently in fourth with 55 points (I have them with 56 and have triple-checked, but whatever, doesn't affect the standings), and would likely finish in fourth with 59 projected points, with first through third too far ahead of the Cardinal, and only fifth-place Cal currently at more than 40 points. Auburn, Connecticut and Eastern Washington (!) are your current 1-2-3, with no word yet on whether Auburn will have to vacate this title too.

The women, meanwhile, are in first place with 82 points currently (again, I have them at 85, nice job here, guys), and with 29 projected points on the way, the women should win this fairly easily. Cal and Notre Dame are currently tied for second with 76 points, with Texas A&M fourth, so watch out for them just in case, especially in softball, the remaining triple-weighted sport.

So, despite their two national titles not counting, the Cardinal women are going to win fairly easily, and the men are on pace for fourth. Not too shabby at all, and if men's basketball and baseball pick it up (and football maintains its top-five status), the men and the women might start winning this one with regularity too. Maybe they could adjust then to retroactively weight sports each season depending on our finish, or, heck, give men's lacrosse and ice hockey ten-fold weight.


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