Virginia 2011-2012 Academic Season: A Win or a Loss Discussion

On Friday, I asked all you dear readers your thoughts on the Cavalier's 2011-2012 Academic Season. I promised that I would follow up today with my own thoughts on the matter. But before I get to that, I wanted to talk briefly about the results:

We had 144 votes in the poll and they were squarely on the "Win" side of the line. Nearly half - 49% - chose the "Win - football and basketball are on the rise!" option, showing how much those two sports really matter. More than a third of the voters - 36% - chose the "Win - even though we were down in a lot of sports, it was still successful" option. All told, 85% of the voters said they considered this season a win.

A not-surprisingly-small number of readers - five, to be exact - said that being out of the top 10 in the Director's Cup is all that matters. Fifteen more people said that the losses in the bowl, the first round of the NCAA and the drop in Director's Cup rankings made this a loss.

Clearly, our fans were happy with this season as a whole.

So now for my opinion:

I consider it a win. But only just barely. Find out why after the break.

In the original article, I said that I was biased towards the Olympic Sports. I have a soft spot for them at least in part because of the lack of attention they're given from the general public (or even the general U.Va. fan). But therein lies the rub: That also means that I recognize that the general public often doesn't care about those sports at all. They care about Football. And Basketball. But mostly Football.

Our fearless leader noted in the comments section of the original article that "... it is VERY VERY important to be good in football and basketball..." and I certainly agree with that.

But at the same time, Virginia's claim to fame will likely always be its solid overall athletics department. Sure, we'll likely compete for titles in the big two on occasion. But it's our dedication to the whole student athlete experience that makes us one of the few truly elite athletics departments in the country. So any change in our Director's Cup rankings is also VERY VERY important, in my mind.

The tipping point for me actually comes when looking at the individual sports. As the other Brian correctly pointed out there are some legitimate reasons (the type of reasons that don't leave me concerned for the future) that some of the programs didn't get as many points as in the past.

Men's lacrosse won the national championship last year. It couldn't get any more points than it did last year and it's not reasonable to expect a repeat national title. Same thing (roughly) goes for men's tennis: it is unreasonable to expect them to get more points (which they could only do by winning the national title). That they matched their second-place finish from last year is an impressive feat.

Women's golf would have almost certainly finished higher had it not been for a simple scorecard error.

Men's basketball might have finished higher if it hadn't suffered the attrition and injuries that it did. A better NCAA seed likely would have led to at least one more win in the dance. The women's basketball team received a massive snub by being left out of the dance completely. Those are points we didn't have last year, either, but would have been helpful to balance some things out this year.

Because of those somewhat mitigating factors, I'm not too concerned about the long-term prospects of our athletics department. And thus, I consider it a win. Glad we (almost) all agree.

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