Oregon Is the BEST Athletic Program in the Nation?

Devon Allen FP, GB

It was great to hear that the Oregon Athletic Program finished the highest ever in the Learfield Directors Cup standings at tenth place, yet in the middle of the announcement by UO Media we saw something that really stood out; Oregon finished first among all schools having the same number of sports available for the ninth straight year!

How does that work? The Directors Cup takes the top ten sports for each gender and adds up those points, thus Oregon having only 19 total sports is leaving a lot on the table compared to Stanford who has 33 funded sports among both sexes. The award is based upon the complete athletic program, adding the Mens and Womens top ten sports each, and that is where you begin to question the entire process.

Raevyn Rogers

Gary Breedlove

Raevyn Rogers

Points are awarded equally for all sports and the winner of Rifle or Skiing gets the same 100 points that a National Champion in Football or Mens Basketball gets; there is a feeling of equality that agrees with that purist notion … but is it realistic? Don’t we as fans give much greater weight to winning in Baseball over Water Polo?

As a publisher of when this site was in the top 1% in the world for all hits in a year, I can tell you that readership/interest corresponds with attendance of the sport. For example, Football has 59,000 attending versus 12,000 max capacity in Basketball, versus 3,500 max coming to baseball at PK Park – and that is about the same level of interest we get from the fans. The purists would argue that equal point values need to be awarded for the Olympic sports, hence this whole discussion becomes very subjective.

But, wait – isn’t there a competing award for total Athletic Department excellence? Yep, it’s the Capital One Cup - and they have a different approach to scoring with different results. They break it into Mens and Womens categories, with the Ducks (as of June 3rd) in seventh place for the Men, and tied for 18th with Notre Dame and Oregon State in the Womens division. (Gawd, say it isn’t so!)

The Capital One Cup awards different points for different sports with 60 points coming to the national champion for each sport in one group, and 20 points going to the NC of another group, with each group having points awarded down the scale of how a team finished. It begins to apply an emphasis upon fan interest that I like, but why separate awards? You don’t split athletic programs into Mens and Womens … it is THE athletic program at a university. So to me, Capital One did it different – just to be different – without addressing the reality of what the award should be.

Oh, brother … so – who really has the best program?

You can safely say that the big schools (Ohio State) do well, and the schools that have permanent endowed funding (such as Stanford with their 33 sports) will always be up there.

Our fans love football...

Kevin Cline

Our fans love football…

I think both Cups are fatally flawed, as you must address the athletic program in it’s entirety without breaking out separate gender awards. You should award higher point totals for fan interest, and that means that football should be given a lion’s share of emphasis because of its importance to fans, and because it funds the majority of the entire athletic programs at most universities. Give 100 points to non-revenue sports winners, but 400 points to the Mens Basketball Champion, and 800 points to the Football Champion.

Yep … the SEC is going to love that, but to me it represents reality as to what is important to the fans being served the sports by the Athletic Departments. It also reflects the reality of funding at our major sports/education institutions. Oregon would still score highly in most years, but there would be different outcomes in the standings from year-to-year. I can imagine the outcry of giving football too much importance again versus the other sports, but again to me? It’s reality.

Sometimes, like Trump, I need a good scolding for how I’m thinking, but this FishDuck is interested in listening to alternate viewpoints and won’t lie in my responses like Hillary, and thus would truly like to read the opinions of others – about the Cups, not politics. (I had to have a little fun jabbing both sides)

How should the athletic programs be judged?

Charles Fischer  (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo by Gary Breedlove

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Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

  • Mike Merrell

    Okay, Charles – you asked for it, so I’ll be the first to disagree.

    The root of the issue is whether college sports should be viewed simply as entertainment for fans, or as encouragement for young adults to pursue excellence in a variety of disciplines. The first (entertainment) is married to the dollar. The second (pursuit of excellence) is based on higher ideals and is tied to growth of social consciousness. While the dollar represents society’s collective thought process, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should dictate ideals – something that an educational institution should rightfully consider.

    The schools that excel in football and men’s basketball get ample recognition (and money) as it is. So what’s so wrong with providing a relatively minor reward (Directors Cup recognition) to those schools that provide a broad range of opportunities for young adults to pursue excellence in the sports of their choice?

    When I was at Portland’s Grant High School and was one of very few sophomores to earn a varsity letter (in swimming) I had a non-athlete kid tell me that my letter should be smaller because it wasn’t football or basketball. Somehow it came across as an insult.

    Those in the “minor” sports work every bit as hard as those in the glory sports. And for the most part they do it without expectation of monetary payback. They learn about pursuit of excellence, responsibility and dedication, which are important life lessons. Let’s not tell them that they don’t count for as much as those who do it for the big money, because our society depends on those striving to give life their best shot.

    • FishDuck

      Yikes! I got a big-gun lurking to come out! Cool.

      Your second paragraph makes a lot of sense, although your perspective is from one of the athlete, while this award is supposed to be for athletic department excellence.

      It sounds that you would then favor the Directors Cup model that awards equal points regardless of the sport. Unfortunately that does favor the big schools like Stanford or Ohio State who have 33 funded sports compared to our 19, although I’ll concede that my “football heavy” model will not be won by a Coastal Carolina, who just won the Baseball NCAA title.

      You made me think about this from a different angle–so I thank you for that and writing….

  • Eric Petersen

    I think you are on the right track but your accounting could use some refinements. I would take the total audience into acount; number of games X the average audience to get closer to the number of points awarded proportionally. So, roughly, football should not necessarily earn twice as many points as basketball or baseball because these numbers might be closer than you might expect.

    I would like to see your numbers revised based on this notion.

    Thanks in advance.

    • FishDuck

      Nope…if you want it–you do it! (I do this all for free you know and only have so much time)

      Total amount of fans over the course of all the games does not indicate the interest. My own analytics from this site prove that a football article has at least eight times the readership of a baseball article, and least twice that of a basketball article. (Note I say AT LEAST)

      My stats are based on real-time results from all of you, the readers.

      (Which is not what I wanted; I wished that non-revenue sports like Softball and Baseball would have as many readers/fans-who-interested, but they simply don’t. Attendance per contest, and readership hits tells the tale, and it is FOOTBALL that wins by a mile)

      But you bring up an interesting point–even if I don’t agree. Thanks for the input.


    Thanks Fish and wish you could give more than whats been available because it’s some of the best stuff I’ve been able to read for free. I still believe your the best at this and could use you as Duck Territory’s NO.1 Writer because Matt and Justin sometimes seems like their clueless as to what their putting out there. Anyways thanks.

    • FishDuck

      You are very kind, but there are a ton of people out there shouting, “don’t feed his over-sized ego anymore!”

      I wish I could write more often, but as you know–it is more than writing, as this article had a ton more research time spent than actual writing. It is fun, but I gotta keep my daytime job….

      Thanks Maitai–you have been a great Oregon fan and reader of the site.