Calling the Directors' Cup

The Bootleg has projected the final 2008-09 Directors' Cup standings, and we can call a winner. Five Pac-10 schools (Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC), and a school apiece from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and SEC all are in our projected top nine. Read on to see who will be taking home the hardware in a exclusive.

Note: For the Cliff Notes version, scroll to the projected standings at the bottom of the article.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, and The Bootleg can report that Stanford is handily en route to winning its 15th straight Directors' Cup.

While final winter standings have not yet been posted, the only winter sport yet to be accounted for is men's ice hockey, which will have only a minimal effect on the teams which annually finish atop the standings. (As evidence, last year's final top ten were Stanford, UCLA, Michigan, Arizona State, Texas, Florida, California, LSU, Penn State and Georgia, in order. Of those, only Michigan, a disappointing first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, even field an ice hockey team, and the Wolverines are currently a distant eighth this year.) Thus, we can take the latest winter standings as final, as use them as a baseline to project final scores:

2008-09 Directors' Cup Final Winter Standings
1. Stanford: 855 points
2. North Carolina: 694 points (161 behind)
3. Minnesota: 684 points (-171)
4. Florida: 616 points (-239)
5. Cal: 607 points (-248)

11. USC: 502 points (-353)
12. Texas A&M: 495 points (-360)
22. Arizona State: 416 points (-439)
37. UCLA: 328 points (-527)
Note: the top-five teams and the five highest-scoring teams last spring are tracked

(All these standings are rounded to the nearest whole number, because I hate fractions. Note to Directors' Cup people: If you want more people to care about this, how about a scoring system that makes sense. Two ideas:
1. Round everything to the nearest whole number, crazy thought. How would the NFL look if the Eagles had 9.32 wins and the Giants were 0.69 games back with their 8.63 victories? How's that for a playoff chase? Would love to see Berman and Madden break that one down.
2. Let's scale it all so that a perfect score any year would be 100. Two reasons for this. One, as any student can tell you, 100 is an obvious number to represent perfection, and so a score of 70 would intrinsically mean something in a way that Stanford's 1504.2 out of a possible 2492.3, or whatever, doesn't. Second, having a constant scale would allow for year-to-year comparisons, and give us Stanford people a reason to pay attention when it's obvious that we're going to win the thing for the umpteenth year in a row, and every other school reason to focus when they're way behind for yet another year. Right now, they keep adding sports or tweaking the rules so that we can't compare across years, which is silly.)
It's ridiculous that I could come up with these improvements off the top of my head, yet Learfield Sports has a whole team, website and press release crew devoted to this thing and, nada. Gives me a lot of confidence that they're doing a great job marketing Stanford Athletics.)

Anyways, let's return to our regularly scheduled programming, and contrast the above end-of-winter standings with how they looked a year ago.

2007-08 Directors' Cup Final Winter Standings
1. Stanford: 1082 points
2. Michigan: 780 points (302 behind)
3. Penn State: 762 points (-320)
4. Ohio State: 704 points (-378)
5. Cal: 702 points (-380)

So the bad news is Stanford has approximately half the lead it did last year, in a season where everyone appears to be scoring lower. (Maybe there have just been more upsets across sports, or maybe it's just a residue of a scoring change – we don't know, Learfield, because there's no way to compare across years. I think I might have mentioned that already.) The good news, though, is that the teams close to Stanford this year tend to score poorly in spring. Therefore, 161 points should be plenty, judging by the the best evidence we have, last spring's results.

2008 Directors' Cup, Spring Points Only
1. UCLA: 680 points (+212 vs. Stanford)
2. Texas A&M: 551 points (+83)
2. USC: 551 points (+83)
4. Arizona State: 534 points (+66)
5. Florida: 519 points (+51)
6. Georgia: 514 points (+46)
7. LSU: 477 points (+9)
8. Stanford: 468 points (0)

Cal: 417 points (-51)
North Carolina: 391 points (-77)
Minnesota: 76 points (-392)

As you can see, the teams that might outscore Stanford in the spring, based on last year, are not teams that are currently threatening the Card. (Notably, UCLA's currently languishing in 37th). Similarly, the teams currently close to Stanford should score fewer points, as they're not as strong at spring sports.

All told then, Stanford figures to, if anything, increase its lead on the field over the spring, and seeing as it already leads by 150-plus points, make room on the trophy shelf for Cup No. 15. Don't believe me? Here are the final standings from last year:

2008 Directors' Cup Final Standings
1. Stanford: 1461 points
2. UCLA: 1182 points (-279)
3. Michigan: 1161 points (-300)
4. Arizona State: 1146 points (-315)
5. Texas: 1130 points (-331)

8. Cal: 1119 points (-342)
9. Penn State: 1041 points (-420)
11. Ohio State: 1034 points (-427)

Notice that Stanford's lead on the second-place team stayed essentially flat, dropping from 302 points to 279, even though the Cardinal only came in eighth last spring. That's because, as you can see, teams that were close to Stanford a year ago today, like Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, had weak springs, while teams that closed strong, like UCLA, were too far back to threaten. The same should happen this year as described above. By adding this year's final winter standings to last year's spring standings, we can quantify this effect, and arrive at a final projection for this year:

Final Projected Standings, 2008-09
1. Stanford: 1323 points
2. Florida: 1135 points (-188)
3. North Carolina: 1085 points (-238)
4. USC: 1053 points (-270)
5. Texas A&M: 1046 points (-277)
6. Cal: 1024 points (-299)
7. UCLA: 1008 points (-315)
8. Arizona State: 950 points (-373)
9. Minnesota: 760 points (-563)

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