So what makes a school have the "best" athletic department?
I thought about that when I came across a blurb on Tuesday's (6/16) "Buff Bites" at Colorado's The Ralphie Report. The blurb itself links to a story put together by the guys at the Lincoln Journal Star's Husker Extra, reflecting where each school finished in the 21 sports under the Big 12.
But is that a truly accurate picture? As the original chart showed, not every school participates in every sport. There are some sports with as little as three participants. Easier to finish first in a sport like that, and when the worst you can do is third, that'll help your average score.
So using that data, I worked up my own numbers.
These are the 12 sports that all 12 schools in the Big 12 participate in: Football, Mens Basketball, Womens Basketball, Track (Mens Outside, Womens Outside, Mens Inside, Womens Inside), Mens Golf, Womens Golf, Mens Cross Country, Womens Cross Country, and Womens Tennis.
I also added a second total and average at the end, which excludes Football. These standings are divisional-based. So the worst a team could do is sixth instead of twelfth (and how realistic is it that 5 of 12 teams can place first).
So what did this tell me? Well, I'm a Husker fan, and like many, I focus on football. I don't hear much about Texas A&M, but they have put together one hell of a set of teams, finishing in the top 3 in 8 of the 11 non-FB sports, and only finishing in the bottom 3 once.
Texas, well we all know Texas is the biggest-baddest Athletic Department in the Big 12. They didn't have quite as many top 3's, but they weren't at the bottom in anything, their worst finish was 8th.
Baylor, Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State are good for averaging in the top half of the conference.
I was surprised that Oklahoma came out a bottom-half team. They're good where it counts as far as the money-sports (Football and Basketball). But beyond that, they fall off quite a bit.
Colorado didn't have a good year. Even Irish1611 at Ralphie Report said "Hard to put a spin on any of that." But there's one other chart that I put together that may be related to Colorado's woes.
|Sports not participated in (out of 21)|
Colorado and Kansas State choose not to participate in a third of Big 12 sponsored sports. Does this indicate a lack of commitment to athletics? I'm not sure, as Missouri is in all but one Big 12 sport, and they finished rather low in the averages. But the schools that skip out the most also finish in the bottom half (dead last in Boulder's case), while Texas, A&M, and Nebraska are in all but one or two sports, and they finished in the top half. What I don't have to throw in for a comparison are athletic budgets and so on. But I just found it interesting.
Now Colorado may throw in a few insults now about how there's nothing else to do in Nebraska, we're a boring state, all we have are the Huskers, and so on. That's why we support the Huskers as much as we do. But beyond the smack, I think many fans may know the commitment may not be there as much as they'd like it to be.
There was talk at the end of April, when Mark Helfrich (OC) left for Oregon, that a knock against Colorado was that according to state law, they can't sign assistant coaches to multi-year contracts (the law may affect other state employees, this was specifically mentioned about the coaches). I don't know how their facilities are, but I'm told they have the best scenery around their facilities in the Big 12. I would think they could bring in the funds (at least as much as Nebraska, we're a bunch of poor dirt farmers, right).
Kansas State, I won't comment on, as their Athletic Department is in major flux right now, with the revelation of secret contracts for former coaches.
So what doesn't this show? Well for one, the Big 12 sports that only some schools are in. Nebraska (and Texas) are tops in Volleyball, Texas and Oklahoma are high in Baseball (with Nebraska bringing up the rear this year), And the sports that are not sponsored by the Big 12. Colorado (and other schools) may be in a number of other sports, and may be very good at them (such as Lacrosse), that aren't reflected in Big 12 standings.