The national all-sports competition for college athletics hasn’t been updated since May 24. At that point we were 27th. But some of our best sports aren’t included yet – top 12 national finishes in men’s and women’s golf, softball makes the super, baseball makes the super (and beyond?), and both outdoor track scores.
Last year we finished 20th with 839 points. We have 455 now. But I can guess at what we’ll have with baseball and track still pending.
We got zero this year for men’s or women’s tennis. Scored in both last year. Tenth place in women’s golf last year was 67.5 points. Men’s golf was 12th; 64.5 points for that. Super regional losers in softball got 64 points. No way to guess what we’ll score in track; probably not a national title contender on either side but could still do well. Top 10 in track is also 67.5 points; fifth place is 75. And obviously we’re getting at least 64 points for baseball and could still get 100. Getting to Omaha is worth at least 73.
So golf and softball totaled 196. Baseball is at least 64. Track is likely to get some big points. We could top that 839 from last year with some luck. Remember that Directors Cup favors schools with more sports; you can only score 10 sports for men and 10 for women, and some schools have to throw out some high national finishes because they have topped out their 20 sports. We only have 19 sports total, 8 for men and 11 for women, and four of our sports scored zero (football, volleyball and both tennis teams).
Can we ever win the Directors Cup? Not without more sports. With a maximum of 18 sports scoring, we would have to AVERAGE finishing second or third in the nation in every single one of them to beat what Stanford routinely rolls up. Stanford averages about 7th place for all 20 sports it scores every year. If we ever had a year like that we could finish top 5, maybe.
I don’t think Jeff Long had any intention of adding more, although I’ve always said if I ever won Powerball, I’d call the AD and tell him I’m going to endow a men’s soccer program and whatever women’s sports we need to add to make that work from a Title IX consideration, and dare him to turn down my money. Hunter Yurachek had even fewer sports at Houston than we have. I’m surprised that with strong youth soccer in Greater Houston, and a pro team in town, they don’t have men’s soccer, but they don’t. I would like to ask him that question though, if he would consider more sports.
We used to have men’s swimming; that could come back. Other SEC schools have women’s rowing and women’s equestrian. Turn our successful club hockey program into a varsity team … nah not likely.
I looked at the fall 2017 standings, which did not even include football (that is finished in January after the CFP). Stanford was fourth in both cross country nationals, won men’s soccer, won women’s soccer, 17th in women’s field hockey (there’s your answer), third in women’s volleyball and had 468 points before Christmas (we were 23rd at that point with 163 points thanks to cross country and women’s soccer). SU actually got zero points in men’s water polo (yes they have that) but they have enough sports that it doesn’t matter. Stanford offers 17 men’s sports and 21 women’s.
Florida and Vandy have women’s lacrosse as well which compete in the Big East now (shifting to the AAC in 2019), so that would be a possibility. There are some schools west of the Mississippi including Arizona State, Colorado and quite a few California schools. I know there is some high school lacrosse in Texas so perhaps we could recruit there.
I’ve always been told that the sport most likely to be added is women’s equestrian. There are some big donors that love horse events. They have a nice facility on campus. I don’t know how close it came to becoming a sport ahead of women’s gymnastics, but I know it was strongly considered.
As far as men’s soccer, I don’t hear much of an outcry to add it. I’m a soccer fan. But I don’t see that soccer is a strong sport in our state at the club or high school level. It’s improved, yes. Maybe if there was a UA men’s soccer team, you’d see it develop more in the state. Maybe not.
It’s easy to see that the women have become competitive in soccer. Colby Hale has built a strong program. I think his recruiting is good and there are good young players coming to Arkansas who can play for the national team. That’s a great sign.
I think it is more likely that Arkansas would cut a sport before it would add another because of the rising costs associated with football. If players are ever paid over cost of attendance, you’ll see sports cut on several campuses to offset the new expenses.
Girls’ soccer in Arkansas is still not strong, but that isn’t stopping Colby Hale. And there are fewer men’s programs to compete against in recruiting. Four in Texas – SMU, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word and UT Rio Grande. Two in Oklahoma, TU and ORU. Three in Misery. Dallas and Houston are loaded with soccer talent.
We would have some regional rivals to play against – SMU, TU, ORU, MoState. Could probably play in the AAC for soccer. Kentucky has men’s soccer, so an SEC opponent, although they play in CUSA for soccer.
I don’t doubt that temptation would be there, but going beyond cost of attendance is not necessarily a budget buster, especially for an SEC school. We’re not talking huge money; these kids are not going to be making $50,000 a year or anything even close to that. You could cover the whole thing for our entire department with what Chad Morris or Mike Anderson make. I’m not suggesting that coaches salaries would be cut to make room, but some resources could be shifted if the desire was there. And again, I’d endow the whole thing if I won Powerball
Equestrian is 15 scholarships. That’s something that the wealthy people Clay referenced could endow. Men’s soccer is only 9.9, and they already have a facility which would just need a men’s locker room.
I would donate to that cause. The first college that I attended was William Woods College (now University), because they had an equestrian program. Back then there were no competitions. I would have loved to be involved in that. After I left WWC, I came to the U of A for 2 summer semesters and a fall semester. I boarded my horse at the fairgrounds and thoroughly enjoyed having him here.
There are several SEC schools who have equestrian teams. aTm, Auburn, UGA and USC all have programs. Auburn has won the national title 5 times and twice in the last 3 years. Starting an equestrian program in the SEC would be like starting a gymnastics program in the SEC.
Only four of the current Big 12 schools have wrestling – OU, OSU, West Va. and Iowa State. Misery is the only SEC school that has it; Georgia, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn had it at one time, but Title IX seems to have claimed all of those. All 14 Big 10+4 schools have it.
Oh yeah, and Jonesboro Tech once had it, but that went away before I was even born.