The Directors’ Cup finals standings came out today. For Alabama, the results are a mixed bag in this annual competition among ADs to see who can cobble together the strongest set of athletic programs.
First, the good news. Alabama finished 31st overall — that is outstanding for a competition which includes hundreds of schools. The other piece of good news is that in this “Golden Age of Auburn Sports,” Alabama still finished higher than Auburn. Those of you with vested in-state bragging rights may want to drag that up the next time someone goes full-Fambly on you.
But, there is some bad news here too: Alabama’s 31st ranking is just 9th in the SEC. Schools like Tennessee, Arkansas, and South Carolina all well-outpaced the Tide.
Here are the Top 55 results and the sports scored:
What Went Wrong?
- Well, first of all, is the tabulation: a school may count 19 events towards its total, but there are four mandatory sports that must be tallied — and Alabama happened to suck at all of them: Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, and baseball.
- Alabama earned zero points in baseball. In year two of Coach Bo’s deep rebuild, the Tide even missed its own conference tournament. The SEC had 10 ranked teams this season, while the Tide had a critical injury and a thin bullpen, so this result isn’t wholly unexpected — even if it was somewhat disappointing.
- Alabama earned zero points in women’s basketball. The team absolutely collapsed out of the gate. Barring an NCAA run next season, one suspects that Coach Curry will not be returning.
- Men’s Basketball...okay, we’ll skip this one. There has been enough ink spilled and enough pathos lain bare for one year.
- Volleyball also did not help, where the Tide earned no points. In addition to a midseason enigmatic firing, Alabama had a sub-.500 conference record and did not make post-season play.
- Historically, one sport that has buoyed Alabama was not immediate helpful: Golf underperformed across the board; no two ways around it. The women finished a pedestrian 38th and the men were a woeful 62nd.
- Gymnastics did Alabama no favors either. Alabama finished 5th: That result would ordinarily be enough for a little grousing, but let me complete the sentence. “Alabama finished 5th...in the SEC.” This is completely, wholly, 100% unacceptable. Like Coach Curry, Coach Duckworth’s contract expires at the end of next season. And, like Coach Curry, one suspects it’s put-up-or-shut-up time on the mats for Coach Duckworth. I am teetering close to a rant, so I’ll leave it at that.
What Went Right?
- Women’s Rowing had a very good season and finished 12th.
- In perhaps the best overall year ever for T&F, the Women crossed the line at 7th and the men were 10th.
- Softball was outstanding, finishing 3rd in a year they were pegged for a rebuild.
- Football — well, yeah. At least we’ll always have football.
So, that’s where we stand going into the 2019-2020 Academic calendar. We can count on some strong non-rev programs again, and especially Alabama’s emergent track squads. And, it’s almost certain that golf and tennis will bounce back from their subpar showings of 2018-2019. Baseball should improve, though how much and whether the team is post-season ready is really anyone’s guess. There will be uncertainty on the hardwood for the Men, but I really suspect this hoops team has the potential to be very good next season. And, of course, there will be the dynamic softball and football programs to put lipstick on the pigs that are gymnastics and women’s basketball: that, or there will be new faces in Coleman Coliseum in a year.
2019-2020 may not be the Tide’s year to put it all together. But, you can see many areas where Alabama is trending up. And that makes the underperforming programs all the more glaring. At one of the richest programs in the nation, a 9th place SEC finish — largely supported by three sports — is probably not going to make Greg Byrne sleep well at night.