Through fall of last year, Stanford had 399 points; this year we have a comparable 382. Florida State, North Carolina and UCLA are the only other schools over 300. We failed to score in men's soccer or men's water polo, but scored in all remaining fall sports: women's soccer (first, 100 points), men's cross country (fifth, 75 points), football (seventh, 72 points), women's cross country (10th, 60 points), women's volleyball (17th, 50 points) and field hockey (ninth, 25 points). Field hockey and football haven't been traditional scorers for us, but we often do better in women's volleyball and score in men's water polo (where only the top four teams receive points), so it approximately evens out.
We set a record last year with 1550.25 points. Fast-forward nine months, and currently, men's volleyball, women's tennis and women's water polo are each No. 1 in the country, women's basketball and baseball are No. 2, men's swimming is No. 3 and men's gymnastics is No. 4. We're a shoo-in for another crown, and we could well top last year's record haul if those teams can come close to living up to their seeds.
Capital One Cup
Ahh yes, the ESPN invention so that Stanford doesn't win the thing running away every year. Last year, our women took down the crown and $200,000 in prize money with 121 points to Texas A&M's 112. Our men came in fifth with 69 points (but just one point away from a tie for third), with Florida winning the thing and the associated cash with 93 points.
This year, however, the scoring structure is entirely different and to our benefit. First, 13 sports have been added: water polo (women are currently No. 1, men did not place), men's volleyball (No. 1), gymnastics (men No. 4, women No. 12), fencing (men No. 11, women No. 13), rifle, skiing, men's ice hockey and women's bowling. While we don't compete in many of those sports, neither does anyone else. Thus, it's a big boost that we're adding two current No. 1s and six teams that will contend for the top-10 finishes that score points.
Second, the scoring structure has been streamlined. Last year, sports were single- double- and triple-weighted, but this year, there is just single- and triple-weight, and only two sports per season receive triple weight. For the men, these sports are: are soccer (no points), football (seventh, 12 points), basketball (No. 61), lacrosse (N/A), baseball (No. 1) and outdoor track. For the women, it's soccer (NCAA champs), volleyball (no points), basketball (No. 2), lacrosse (preseason No. 6), softball (No. 14) and outdoor track. As you can see, the structure is pretty fair, and pretty friendly to us.
Right now, our men are in tenth at 26 points. (Food for thought: Had football won the Fiesta Bowl, we'd likely have finished No. 3 in the coaches' poll and be fourth in this shindig with 44 points.) Alabama, North Carolina and North Dakota State lead with 60 points apiece. Our women, meanwhile, are second with 63 points, and going to be in a dogfight with UCLA, who leads with 72 points.
The scoring structure is weighted such that you get a huge bonus for winning national titles (20 points versus 12 for second place, or 60 versus 36 in a weighted sport), so whether we take firsts or thirds in the months to come is going to have a large impact. Speaking of national titles and a dogfight with UCLA…
National title tracker UCLA has 108. We decline to mention this anywhere on our special national championship website (minor oversight, guys) but we're second with 102. USC has 94 but is fading, and no one else is over 57.
Here's the $64,000 question then: can we catch UCLA? We've been chasing them for a while, but without avail, as they've won NCAA titles in 28 of the past 30 seasons. The last 12 months have been good to the Bruins too: they've taken down women's golf and volleyball this year, and women's gymnastics and softball last year. We're trying to keep pace though, having won it all in women's soccer this year, and in men's gymnastics and women's water polo last year.
Basically put, then, we've been treading water in the NCAA title fight:
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Will we start making progress and catch them? I think we can. First, keep in mind that it's often us and them competing for the same hardware, especially in sports such as tennis, water polo and gymnastics, so if we do improve, we're not only adding to our count, but slowing their progress as well. On the Farm, this year has the potential to be something special with our three current No. 1s, so maybe we can make a dent into their lead of six by school year's end.
We consistently outperform UCLA in the Directors' Cup, and we do support more varsity sports. Many of those programs, including field hockey, women's lacrosse and men's wrestling, are up-and-comers which could be contending for national titles in the next five years. Add it all up, then, and moving forward, you'd think the trend would be slightly in our favor.
Ultimately, I think the biggest question is admissions. I'm starting to see some evidence in writing up these Olympic sports updates over the years (such as our record Directors' Cup hauls) that we've been getting better across the board in the past year or two, concurrent with the switch in Deans of Admission. If there's something to that, and the pattern continues, then maybe we will be able to track down the Bruins in the next 5-10 years.
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