If there’s one thing we’re learning in this new post-BCS Championship era, it’s that winning that game on January 10th did a whole lot more for the Athletic Department than fill its hallways with shiny trophies. The national exposure helped the basketball team land a trip to Hawaii, etc., and now come to find out Auburn sits at the top of the men’s side of the standings for the 2010-2011 Capital One Cup.
The Capital One Cup — that thing you’ve no doubt seen Rece Davis clamoring about in those commercials, but never actually checked the standings of — is in its first year of existence. It’s to be awarded annually to the top Division I college athletics programs in the country as determined by a rigid, yet simple, points-based scoring structure. It sounds kind of silly, but the trophy looks pretty sweet, and the winner gets a $200,000 donation to the school’s student-athlete graduate-level scholarship fund, so, hey, let’s go with it.
The challenge awards points based on top 10 finishes in final coaches’ polls, the twist being that it multiplies the impact of big-time sports by three, others by two, and leaves others as is. For example, that the football team finished No. 1 in the final coaches’ poll earned Auburn 20 points. Multiply that 20 by three —because football is a “Group 1” sport — and Auburn quickly had 60 points.
The swimming and diving squad did their part when they finished sixth at the NCAA Championships this year, which added ten more points for Auburn on the men’s side of the standings, extending the lead and giving them a total of 70. The women’s swimming and diving team’s 8th place finish at nationals put the Auburn women on the board with 6 points.
So is Auburn’s lead in the men’s standings in any danger? No — at least not the immediate kind. Basketball national champion UConn won 60 points and just slingshotted up to the top 3, but it’s their first points of the Cup. It won’t be enough to overcome the Tigers.
However, it’s going to be tough for Auburn to rack up any more points moving forward. The only men’s sports remaining this “season” are baseball, golf, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, tennis, and ice hockey. It’ll be hard for the Tigers to fend off the top spot from challengers in lacrosse and ice hockey, because, you know, we don’t have those sports. (At least not officially.)
But the 8th ranked Auburn Men’s Golf team is poised for a top ten finish, the tennis squad is nationally ranked, and eventually something is bound to go right for the baseball team.
For now we’ll calmly watch and wait patiently… and cheer our hearts out for the colossal collapse of Stanford golf, monumental meltdowns for Delaware lacrosse, and double faults galore for Akron tennis.
War Eagle. We’ll let you know where the TWER anti-Michigan Frozen Four tailgate will be. Of course, when the Capital One Mascot Challenge rolls around again next year, that’s when we’ll really get serious.