In light of Boston College's 76th place finish in this year's NACDA Director's Cup, I wanted to take a closer look at the school's place in the Director's Cup. BC finished 2012-13 with its worst mark in the Director's Cup since 1996, the third year of the program.
But what is Boston College athletics ceiling in the Director's Cup? In other words, if everything went right for the Eagles during one academic year, where could the school realistically expect to place in the Director's Cup?
I started by compiling the data for Boston College's all-time Director's Cup finishes from 1993-94-, broken down by individual sports. This post will likely get broken down into multiple posts as the more I dug into the data, the more interesting tidbits and insights that can be drawn.
For those unfamiliar with the Director's Cup standings, here's (roughly) how it works:
-- All sports where the NCAA offers a championship, and Football Bowl Subdivision football, can earn points in the Director's Cup.
-- Points range from 5-100, with 100 indicating that the school won the NCAA championship in that sport. For championships with a bracket, the scoring is tiered based on actual finish and the size of the bracket. There is a separate point structure for non-bracket sports. Details are here.
-- Up to 20 sports count towards the final standings - the top 10 men's and the top 10 women's. If a school scores in more than 10 sports for one gender, only the top 10 scores are counted.
To answer the question as to what is Boston College's Director's Cup ceiling, I started off with the following assumptions:
-- In the short term, Boston College isn't going to add more varsity sports. There are a number of NCAA championship sports scored in the Director's Cup that BC doesn't offer. Assume that BC won't offer them going forward and, even if they did, it's a bit unrealistic to assume that the program would instantly become competitive enough to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
-- Conversely, BC isn't going to drop any sports that they currently compete in (baseball / softball are safe for now) nor is BC going to drop a sport that they've scored points in in the past (as was the case when the school decided to IX men's wrestling).
-- Finally, the NCAA isn't going to start sponsoring a championship game in sports not represented in the Director's Cup. BC is hurt a bit in the standings since one of the school's marquee varsity programs -- the sailing program -- is sponsored by the ICSA, not the NCAA and therefore does not count towards the Director's Cup.
Things to keep in mind as we go.
Boston College is at a disadvantage in the Director's Cup in that the school has only scored in a total of 19 sports over the years. One of those -- men's wrestling, referenced above -- is no longer offered by the school. BC earns points in an average of 6-7 sports a year, and while the school's final point total has generally risen over the years, the Eagles average only 264 points a year. For comparison's sake, this year's winner -- and nearly every year winner -- Stanford earned a total of 1261.25 points (the Director's Cup equivalent of 12 1/2 National Championships!!) en route to its 19th straight Director's Cup title.
The Cardinal also had four scores omitted due to the maximum 20 allowed for both women's and men's sports. That's a problem BC doesn't have.
Since the scoring differs by bracket size, success in individual sports is not counted equally. In a highly pertinent example to Boston College, earning an NCAA Tournament berth in men's ice hockey with a first-round exit (i.e. placing in roughly the top 25 percent of your sport) nets a school 25 points; the same number of points earned by a school that makes one of Division I-A's 35 bowl games and proceeds to lose that game (so, 70/124 or the top 56 percent ... and an even higher percentage in the five power conferences).
Let's start by breaking down the all-time success (or lack thereof) of Boston College's varsity programs in the Director's Cup.
Here are the 17 sports that Boston College has never placed in in Director's Cup history (1993-94 to present).
- Women's Golf
- Men's Lacrosse
- Women's Rowing
- Men's Tennis
- Men's (Outdoor) Track & Field
- Men's Volleyball
- Women's Water Polo
- Women's Bowling
- Women's Gymnastics
- Men's Gymnastics
- Women's Swimming & Diving
- Men's Swimming & Diving
- Men's Cross Country
- Women's Volleyball
- Men's Water Polo
This list has a good mix of sports that BC has never sponsored (men's volleyball, rifle, women's bowling), sports that are under-invested (facilities, scholarships, etc.) or sports once sponsored, but no more (men's lacrosse). Some sports the school will never offer -- bowling and water polo. Others remain sports where the school could afford to invest in in the hopes of future success. Women's volleyball comes to mind here.
On the flipside are the Boston College programs that have excelled in the Director's Cup. Here are the top five programs in terms of total Director's Cup points over the years. A few of these may surprise.
1. Men's ice hockey - 1,018 points
2. Women's soccer - 719
3. Women's cross country - 504
4. Men's basketball - 433.5
5. Football - 393
As one would expect of a program that has won four NCAA National Championships during the Director's Cup years, men's hockey tops the list with a total of 1,018 points. York and the Eagles earned the school 100 points in 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2001 and have averaged 50.9 points a year which is almost unfair.
A bit surprising is the women's soccer team sitting in second. The program has earned the school points in each of the last 12 seasons, including a third place finish in 2010 (83 points) and fifth place finishes in 2002 and 2009 (73 points). Women's cross country sits in third. While the women's team did miss the NCAAs this season, the program has earned points in six of the last eight seasons.
Despite having missed the NCAA Tournament for the past four seasons, men's basketball is in fourth with 433.5 points. A majority of those points came from Round of 32 appearances in the 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007 tournaments as well as the Sweet Sixteen finish in 2006.
Nearly every school earns some points in FBS football and BC is no exception. The football program rounds out the top 5 with 393 points -- with a majority of those points coming during the program's record 12 year bowl appearance streak (though the Director's Cup scoring of FBS has changed over the years and BC didn't earn any points for the 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2004 seasons. Football earned a total of 66 points during the 2007 season when the program finished ranked in the Top 10.
Rounding out the top 10:
6. Men's soccer - 368 points
7. Fencing - 367
8. Women's basketball - 312
9. Women's hockey - 245
10. Women's track & field - 226.5
The men's soccer team just misses the top 5; a testament to the program that Ed Kelly has built on the Heights. Fencing earns the school a number of points as the program has earned points in every season dating back to 2005-06. Women's basketball used to be a permanent fixture in the NCAA Tournament only to fall on hard times in the years post-Inglese.
Women's hockey is also hurt by the fact that only eight programs earn points every season. A majority of the points scored by women's hockey have come in the last five seasons with back-to-back-to-back trips to the Frozen Four. The sport is also a recent addition to the Director's Cup with the first NCAA Championship staged during the 2001-02 season. No one other than Minnesota, Wisconsin or Minnesota-Duluth has won a title to date. So there's that too.
Women's track & field rounds out the top 10 with 226.5 points.
Tomorrow I want to work with some of these program averages to arrive at a realistic best-case scenario for BC in the Director's Cup. Leave your thoughts on the above below.