ASU athletics still middle of the pack

ASU's not bad, but not good compared to its peer group

As we begin the 2015-16 athletics season, you might think ASU is in good shape. The department added sports, such as beach volleyball, ice hockey, triathlon and another women’s sport still to be announced. It is also in the middle of a major reconstruction to Sun Devil Stadium and the introduction of a new Athletics District.

But the performance on the field remains the same overall, even during a time when the football team ascended under fourth-year coach Todd Graham.

In the Directors’ Cup, which measures athletic departments’ overall success in the postseason, ASU finished 30, which was tied for its worst ever (the Directors’ Cup began in 1993-94).

There are some inherent flaws in the Directors’ Cup. It rewards schools that play more sports and it only counts the postseason, which does not always reflect the whole season.

There’s no doubting the Pac-12’s nickname as “The Conference of Champions.” UCLA, Stanford and USC rank 1-2-3 in Division I with 112, 107 and 100 national championships (this excludes football because the NCAA does not award championships at the Football Bowl Subdivision level). The schools were also 1-2-3 in the most recent Directors' Cup, the first time a conference has occupied the top three spots. 

But I wanted to look at something different  how ASU compared to its peer group, the Pac-12 when only factoring in conference play.

I calculated the 2014-15 Pac-12 all-sports standings, similar to the SEC model. I compared each of the Pac-12 schools by how they finished in the conference. A first-place finish is worth 12/12 (1.00), while second place gets 11/12 (.9167). Not all Pac-12-sponsored sports have 12 teams, so for example, Oregon earned 9/9 for winning the 2015 Pac-12 softball championship.

By default, I used regular season standings to determine each school’s finish, but in sports such as golf and cross country, there are none officially, and the Pac-12 championship was used.

Considering the Directors' Cup, it was a bit surprising to see Oregon, not Stanford win this. Stanford competes in 37 sports, but the Pac-12 only sponsors 22 of them (23 in 2015-16). 

ASU's 2014-15 conference finish by sport: (number of teams)

Baseball: T-3 (11)
Football: T-3 (12)
Gymnastics: 8 (8)
Men's basketball: T-5 (12)
Men's cross country: 6 (9)
Men's golf: 3 (12)
Men's swim and dive: 5 (6)
Men's outdoor track and field: 5 (10)
Softball: T-4 (9)
Wrestling: 2 (6)
Women's basketball: 2 (12) 
Women's cross country: 6 (12)
Women's golf: 9 (11)
Women's outdoor track and field: 4 (12)
Women's soccer: 8 (12)
Women's swim and dive: 7 (9)
Women's tennis: 5 (11)
Women's volleyball: T-7 (12)

The Sun Devils didn't win a single conference championship in the 2014-15 season, and finished last in one of its 18 conference-sponsored sports. Regardless of what metric is used, ASU still sits in the middle of the pack. 

Related Links:

ASU football running backs coach Bo Graham resigns; Josh Martin appointed as replacement

ASU football's Lloyd Carrington, Kweishi Brown among elite Pac-12 corner duos


Reach the columnist at jmjanss1@asu.edu or follow @jjanssen11 on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.