March 20, 2014

The Conference Championships Ahead – March 22nd

We have arrived at conference championships weekend, aka the last time you're still technically allowed to be bad. After this, quality is a requirement instead of just a recommendation.

In the final showdown for the #1 ranking before the Regionals are assigned, Florida controls its own destiny, able to secure the regular-season #1 position with a 197.300, which I certainly expect them to get. The more interesting ranking maneuvering will come lower down the table, particularly in how the Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon State, Auburn, Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, and Arkansas group plays out in terms of Regionals pairing and hosts. The match-ups between these schools will be the most fun to follow on Regionals day because we'll have significant upset potential in two or three of those competitions. We also have Cal trying to get a big score at home at Pac 12s to jump into a seeded position, along with a number of teams vying for the final couple spots in the top 36. Full analysis of each team's scoring going into the weekend is here.

I won't have a live blog for the conference championships, so if you have any pressing comments to make about the meets, especially regarding judges and their various crack-smoking tendencies, feel free to leave them here. I did previews for SECs and Pac 12s already, but in the Big Ten, expect Michigan to win the first session by well over a point. Then, we'll have to wait and see how the scores from the first session compare to the second to see how much foul crying will ensue after the meet. Nebraska has the benefit of competing in the night group, and if they bring the vault landings and hit beam, they should win the session, but at the Big Ten quads last weekend, the difference between Nebraska and the rest was minor, so any mistake from either Michigan or Nebraska will bring in all of the next three seeds in a potential five-way mid-196 battle. That would be great to follow, but if Michigan and Nebraska hit hit, they should have enough of a margin to make it a two-team race rather than a five-team race. They're just a step above, with more 9.9s than the teams in the teens can expect to get even on a great day. As for Michigan and Nebraska, the session scoring comparison will be fascinating.

Oh, and Oklahoma will obviously win Big 12s. The end.

The EAGL looks completely up for grabs, and will be providing a free live stream, so if you're looking to whet your competition appetite, keep an eye on that one because it could go anywhere and everywhere. New Hampshire is probably the smart bet–top-ranked and competing at home–but the majority of those teams should be right in it because they're fairly closely packed in the rankings and rarely show a major difference in their weekly scores. NC State is always dangerous and has a couple people who can bring in high 9.8s on multiple events in Ouellette, Watkins, and Ham. Rutgers started off the year very well but has fallen back since those early scores. Still, do we see a big Rutgers upset in the cards?

The independent schools that put together the Mountain Rim Championship this year have also had a very competitive season, with all six teams already guaranteed to make Regionals. Even the lowest-ranked team in the group, Utah State, impressed me in their recent meet with UCLA. All six of these teams can reach 196, so it should be another very competitive one with one tenth margins on events (and, as always, who can hit beam) deciding the places 1 through 6. Boise State's asset is bars, but can they score well enough on beam to make that advantage hold up over Denver? 

Championship Schedule

Saturday – 3/22/14

12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 1: [8] Michigan, [24] Ohio State, [37] Iowa, [38] Michigan State

12:00 ET/9:00 PT – ECAC Championship: [55] William & Mary, [57] Brown, [61] Cornell, [62] Temple, [64] Penn, [65] Yale

1:00 ET/10:00 PT – ECAC Division II Championship: [52] Bridgeport, [63] West Chester, [68] Southern Connecticut

2:00 ET/11:00 PT – EAGL Championship: [23] New Hampshire, [27] NC State, [33] Rutgers, [35] Maryland, [40] Pittsburgh, [43] George Washington, [44] North Carolina, [59] Towson

2:00 ET/11:00 PT – MAC Championship: [18] Central Michigan, [26] Kent State, [42] Bowling Green, [45] Eastern Michigan, [46] Western Michigan, [50] Northern Illinois, [56] Ball State

3:00 ET/12:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 1: [12] Auburn, [15] Arkansas, [28] Kentucky, [38] Missouri

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Big 12 Championship: [3] Oklahoma, [36] West Virginia, [40] Iowa State

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pac 12 Championship Session 1: [5] Utah, [7] UCLA, [10] Stanford, [11] Oregon State

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 2: [9] Nebraska, [13] Illinois, [14] Minnesota, [15] Penn State

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – MIC Championship: [47] Texas Woman's, [49] Illinois-Chicago, [51] SEMO, [58] Lindenwood, [60] Illinois State, [67] Centenary

7:00 ET/4:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 2: [1] Florida, [2] LSU, [4] Alabama, [6] Georgia

9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Mountain Rim Championship: [17] Boise State, [20] Denver, [25] BYU, [29] Southern Utah, [32] Utah State

9:30 ET/6:30 PT – Pac 12 Championship Session 2: [19] Cal, [21] Arizona, [22] Arizona State, [34] Washington

10:00 ET/7:00 PT – MPSF Championship: [30] San Jose State, [31] UC Davis, [48] Sacramento State, [53] Air Force, [54] Seattle Pacific, [66] Alaska


  1. You're not live blogging for Pac-12s even though you will be there? If so I understand, enjoy the meet! -Jacob

  2. Enjoy the Pac-12.
    Is there ever any chatter about the three remaining Big 12 teams joining another conference? It just seems sad to have only three teams – with one being so much better than the other two. Big 12 can still exist for other sports, but gymnastics can just go into other conferences (Georgia Bulldogs football team is in the ACC – guessing they were there and didn't want to end the rivalries when the rest of the sports joined the SEC).

    Oklahoma seems like a good fit for the SEC (natural rivals with LSU).
    West Virginia can join the EAGL conference.
    Iowa State can join the Big 10.

    On other note, when it comes to regionals/nationals, I wouldn't mind seeing the Oklahoma Sooners lose. Not because I don't like the women's gymnastics, just because the Sooners men's basketball team lost, therefore my March Madness bracket for the West is wrecked. :(


    1. Georgia TECH is in the ACC. Georgia is still very much in the SEC -- in all sports. When it comes to the power conferences (SEC, Big 10, Pac-12, Big-12, ACC), I really don't see any of the big name schools allowing one sport to compete in another conference. In other sports, there are some schools that compete Division II in certain sports and jump up to Division I in other sports (not in a power conference). And certain independents may join a conference in one sport (i.e. Notre Dame).

      I think the Big 12 gymnastics programs should reach out to Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, or TCU to start a program. Texas is a gymnastics rich state and the Kansas schools could pull in recruits from the KC region (Gage) and from Iowa/Illinois/Minnesota. I could see any of the schools building a fairly successful program, assuming they could get the support of the Athletic Department.

    2. Thanks for the info. I've just started really following NCAA sports and there are so many schools it's difficult to keep track of them all and their conferences. I just remembered the Florida State Seminoles football team was in the same conference as a team from Georgia – assumed it was the Bulldogs.

      Is the Big 12 in financial difficulty? I know Nebraska and Mizziou switched out of the conference to the Big 10 and SEC respectively. What was the reason? Big 12 women's gymnastics would've been more competitive with those two schools challenging Oklahoma.


    3. I wouldn't necessarily say the Big 12 is in financial difficulty, but they're definitely in a sticky situation. If conference realignment continues to happen, which it likely will, the Big 12 is going to be the conference to watch. The problem, in my eyes, is Texas. Texas basically runs the Big 12. They get a large share of the money (and bring in a large share of the money) and basically run the conference. Nebraska and Missouri left for several reasons, but money is a big part of it. The Big 10 does equal revenue sharing; thus, Ohio State and Michigan receive the exact same cut of the conference revenue as Purdue and Indiana. It works because the schools all agree. Nebraska is bringing in a lot more money now than they were in the Big 12. This would never happen in the Big 12 because Texas wouldn't allow it. They would never give up their share.

      Another big part of conference realignment is the media market. The Big 10 is looking to expand East and potentially South. Rumor is that the Big 10 would likely look at UCONN, UNC or Duke, and Georgia Tech if they were to expand again. The reason is they want the New York Market and to start moving into the Southern media markets -- a larger market equals a lot more money. Basically, the Big 12, outside of Texas, isn't a draw for the SEC, Big 10, or PAC-12, because the conferences don't have much to gain money-wise. Gaining viewers in Kansas City and Oklahoma City just isn't as appealing as New York or Atlanta. Gaining Dallas and Houston would be huge, but Texas would have to start playing by the rules of the Big 10, SEC, or PAC 12 and I don't think it will happen for a while.

      Last, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have to go to the same conference if they leave the Big 12. Their state legislature has already made the rule and it's unlikely the major conferences would want to pick up both schools.

      Basically, the realignment situation is good for some of the "big" sports, mainly football and basketball. But the Olympic sports tend to suffer in my opinion. The Big 12 gymnastics situation is a great example. I can't imagine OU losing the Big 12 title any time in the near future. The conference just isn't competitive.

    4. In addition, to the info above, culture has big part in which conference will accept which schools. The Big 10 has routinely set "high" academic standards for which schools it will allow. I believe they rejected Missouri twice and said academics was a big part of it. I think partially it's an excuse, but schools do need to fit culturally with a conference. The Big 10 schools tend offer a ton of sports. Ohio State offers 36 varsity sports, compared to Georgia's 19. The amount of money it takes to fund 36 sports is huge, which is why I think gymnastics hasn't caught on as much in the Big 10. The administrations don't support the gymnastics teams as much in that conference and PAC 12 as they do in the SEC. There are just too many more sports to fund and promote.

      A lot of "experts" think eventually there will be 4 major conferences of 16 teams. If that becomes reality, then OU and Oklahoma State will likely get picked up by another conference or if the Big 12 survives, other gym programs will likely join the conference. Football drives the conference realignment issues. It's the sport that brings in the money, so whatever happens will happen only if it's good for football.

      I think one possibility is that Big 12 gym programs should look at a few other schools -- Denver, Boise State, etc.-- to become part of the Big 12 gym conference. Like the person above said, I don't know that a major conference would allow it, but it would be much more likely that those schools could join the Big 12 for gymnastics only than it would for OU to join the SEC or Big 10 for gymnastics only.

    5. Oklahoma will never be in the SEC. Oklahoma never seceded, that's a requirement

    6. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for all the info. I tend to mainly follow the NCAA conferences through women's gymnastics, but now I'm trying to expand to other sports. I knew football was the "money king."

      What was the reason Oklahoma stated that both it's universities have to be in the same conference?

      I know academics are usually not a high priority in the SEC – though I tend to think the football and perhaps men's basketball teams tend to bring down the academic average since there are so many players. (If I were a gymnast – ha ha – I'd go to Stanford or Brown.) Though any school will give a student a good education IF the student works for it. Based on gymnastics, it seems Alabama is a pretty good school for academics.

      I agree that teams like Denver, Boise St., and other independent gymnastics programs joining the Big 12 may be a good idea, if only to make the conference "championship" more interesting. Oklahoma will still be the school to beat, but once rivalries are established and other teams start recruiting to best them, who knows... Personally I believe, the Oklahoma Sooners will have a stronger gymnastics team in 2015 then they do this year – so I'm calling for the Sooners to become the sixth NCAA champion in 2015 when they edge out Florida. Alabama will have an off year and finish fifth or sixth. This is based on what we know now, so in the case of injuries, recruiting, athletes changing schools, I may change my mind.


  3. The Georgia football definitely is NOT in the ACC, that would be madness

  4. Michigan goes 49.7 on floor with a 10 from Sampson...we'll see if 197.550 is enough to hold on through the second session!