Friday, March 23, 2012

For Those Scoring At Home...


UC Davis women's gymnastics hosts the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships at the Pavilion Saturday night (meet time is 6 p.m., tickets are available via While the Aggie student populace will have completed its examinations, the gymnasts will have one more two-hour final.

For what it's worth, the last time this meet came to the Pavilion, UC Davis posted a 194.700, taking down its first-ever MPSF title and setting a school record that still stands.

At this time of year, I inevitably get asked about an oft-quoted figure: the regional-qualifying score, or RQS for short. What it means is rather self-explanatory – it's a ranking system for qualifying teams and/or individuals to the NCAA regional meets. Steve Troester, the diehard among diehards, compiles these rankings at his website.

How it is calculated is less well-known. In fact, the math is pretty simple. Take the top six scores, with a minimum of three coming from road meets. Throw out the highest score, then average the rest.

The Aggies' RQS works out as follows:

Away #1: 194.150 (Mar. 16)
Away #2: 194.025 (Mar. 11)
Away #3: 192.900 (Feb. 24)
Away/Home #4: 193.875 (Feb. 10)
Away/Home #5: 191.600 (Mar. 2)
Away/Home #6: 191.600 (Jan. 27)

Lop off the 194.150 set at San Jose State last weekend and add up the remaining five, you get 964. Divide that by five and you get 192.800.

The same is done with an individual. Here's Katie Yamamura in the all-around:

Away #1: 39.225 (Mar. 11)
Away #2: 39.050 (Feb. 24)
Away #3: 38.725 (Jan. 6)
Away/Home #4: 39.125 (Jan. 27)
Away/Home #5: 39.125 (Feb. 10)
Away/Home #6: 38.450 (Mar. 16)

Toss the school-record 39.225, average the remaining five and you get 38.895. This is the score that has a regional berth locked up. So even though the NCAA will not announce the field officially until after all the conference championships are done, Team Yami might as well start booking flights to Sea-Tac right now.

* * * * *


After an incredibly hot start for UC Davis, the Causeway Cup standings have gotten rather interesting. The Aggies secured 35 points in the fall then added another 10 from women's basketball's home victory on December 19. But the Hornet gymnasts are enjoying one of their best seasons to date, even outscoring the Aggies during their mid-March hot streak. Sacramento State also picked up some steam in men's and women's tennis, men's basketball and softball.

It all comes down to baseball (home and home in April), men's golf (a common tournament on the Sunday after Picnic Day) and track & field (a dual at Sacramento on April 27), and it's anyone's ballgame.

Both schools are working out how to resolve the rained-out game on February 29, which is officially listed as postponed. If this contest is not rescheduled, the likely scenario will be to recalculate the softball rivalry as two games worth 2.5 points each. If the game shows up later in the season, a mighty five-thirds of a point remain up for grabs.

Although it has not come into play in the eight years of the Causeway Cup, I have opted to install a new rule into the scoring: a postseason bonus.

Under current rules, the Causeway rivalry in any given sport is worth five points. Football, volleyball and the two basketball teams contest for 10 points. If a sport squares off multiple times in a year, those points are divided by the number of matchups. This stuff is summarized in the link above, so I see no need to go any further into it.

However, I would like to see the two schools agree on adding another five points in the event of a meeting in the postseason.

Think about this for a moment.

Imagine if both UC Davis and Sacramento State were to reach an NCAA regional in softball. Or perhaps both qualify teams for the national bracket in men's soccer. Apply this to whatever your favorite sport is, and let it settle into your brain. Shouldn't the magnitude of that postseason matchup be worth extra when it comes to Causeway bragging rights?

As of this moment, there are no rules governing what happens on such an occasion. In fact, most rules are unwritten, falling under the "gentleman's agreement" between the two athletics departments. Thus, a chance meeting in the postseason could be worth nothing. Or it could simply recalculate the points per game. There is nothing on paper because it hasn't happened yet.

But again, imagine if it did. I'll use baseball as an example. For 2011-12, the two meetings are worth 2.5 each. Suppose the Aggies and Hornets split. Then they both make a regional hosted at, say, Stanford. They play each other two more times on that stage. Would we suddenly reduce each game to 1.25? Would we not count it at all? In this writer's opinion, both of those solutions seem unpalatable.

The powers that be once determined that football, volleyball and basketball should be worth extra points because of the high-profile nature of those sports. By that philosophy, I believe we should add extra points if our teams meet up in an NCAA championship. Or the NIT or WNIT, for that matter. I've written up an incredibly rough draft of rules for a postseason bonus (including stipulation for a few sport-specific situations). I hope the two schools will take some time to discuss and amend them.

It hasn't happened in the short history of the Causeway Cup, in part because UC Davis was not eligible for the postseason for the first few years. It rarely happened even when both teams were strong Division II programs (a football playoff, a few meetings at the USA Gymnastics meet, etc.) But as both programs continue to develop, it certainly could happen, and I'd like to see our Causeway Cup factor it in.

Until that happens... yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll be at that track meet on April 27. It could be a doozy.

Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, still recalls the sight of Sacramento State beating his Aggies in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Division II playoffs. That he would still advocate a postseason bonus for the Causeway Cup despite this childhood memory reveals the strength of his conviction toward this idea.

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