Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Gonna Get This Off My Chest & Then Gear Up for More Volleyball

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It's late at night and I'm back at the hotel after watching a full day of volleyball and of course, the best moment of my day was watching SFA complete a five set comeback against Northwestern State.  But, something has been burning under my skin all day and I am going to try and deliberately, but still hopefully, tactfully get this off my chest.

The rules and regulations placed on Southland Conference coaches and SID's when voting for postseason honors and all-conference selections are.. well.. in a word.. dumb.  Is it tactful to write "dumb" on the Internet?  I hope so 'cause you need to step back, I'm about to go off a little.

Seriously, these rules and guidelines make no sense.  The whole impetus of this post is to once again bring up the case of ORU middle blocker Jessica Pancratz.  It turns out that ORU head coach Sheera Sirola did not include Pancratz as a nominee when coaches were asked to submit their players names.  Now, it's not my place to question that decision - and I won't.  I don't really understand it, but it is entirely possible that there is some reason why the ORU brass decided not to put her name forward.  Maybe the coaches felt like they had "nominated enough" of their players, maybe they didn't want to forward the names of both their middle blockers, maybe there is some story I (we, someone) doesn't know - maybe there's not.  I will not question a coach in that position - especially one I haven't had the honor of really fostering an acquaintance with yet.  I should say, the ORU staff is one of the few in the conference that I don't have at least some mild acquaintance or relationship with.

So yeah, I rant about how the league did Pancratz an injustice because I am assuming that all coaches and SID's could have voted for her and they chose not to.  As it turns out, no one COULD vote for her.  So, yeah - apology sent to the voters.

But, here's the deal.  This whole thing is still stupid.

There shouldn't be any nominations.  Why in the world do we need to "nominate" players for postseason honors?  That's too much control for any one person to have when it comes to this sort of thing.  What you are doing there is telling the other nine coaches, nine SID's and your own SID that you can't vote for a player because a head coach doesn't put her on a ballot.  Sorry, that's too much control for a coach to have.  All-Conference Honors aren't about you.  They are about the LEAGUE as a whole deciding who the best players are.  A coach should not have the power to reduce the pool of players that can be voted for.

The way the system works now, a coach can pick and choose who to submit for various honors and essentially drive votes to one of their players by leaving certain other players off of ballots.  That's not what Sirola did, obviously.  All of ORU's players that were honored very much deserved it.  Fernandes didn't need any help - she's awesome.  Clearly a first teamer.

I am just saying that IF someone wanted attention to go in one way, that they can do that by eliminating other choices. That's ridiculous.  It cheapens the entire process of the league trying to genuinely honor the best athletes.

There doesn't need to be a nomination process.  The possible player pool from which to vote for when casting ballots for All-Conference selections should be the entire set of rosters for all Southland Conference teams.  EVERYONE should be eligible.. no matter what a coach says, no matter what an SID says, the possible set of people who should be eligible for those lists should be the entire player pool in the SLC.

Then, to aid voters, a list of all freshman and all newcomers should be sent to the voters just to clarify who satisfies those definitions.  That's it.  Now, after that, coaches and SID's should submit a list of say, x, ranked names, and the conference should score 'em and we've got ourselves the honorees.  It's not that hard, but instead we've got some crazy restrictions that frankly, create at least one mess of a situation each year.

What are fans like me to do?  We are looking at these lists saying "What about her?" and all the while the "her" in that question isn't even on some nominee list?  Yeah.. that's a good system. Whatever.

Hey, remember back in 2009.. I went crazy train about Lamar's Wendy Krell winning Freshman of the Year when I thought it should have been Jayme Bazile - also from Lamar.  While we are at it.. why do I always get in trouble over these middle blockers.. first the Bazile/Krell fiasco and now I've got people thinking that I am paying for Jessica Pancratz to go to ORU.  Anyway, I digress.. my point is that I thought Bazile was more deserving for Freshman of the Year in 2009.  Turns out.. she got zero votes.  You know why?

Ding. Ding. Ding. Lightbulb.  You guessed it.. .she wasn't even on the ballot.  Why?  Because we've got a rule (for fools) that says that a coach can only submit one of his/her freshman for that honor.

Excuse Me?  That's a good idea...uhhh.. why? 

So, Justin Gibert at Lamar is forced into a choice (a choice that gives him too much power) and has to decide which of his two players he wants on the ballot.  Hey, here's a novel idea:  Let the rest of the conference decide.  After all.. every kill, every block that both of those players put up that year was AGAINST THE REST OF THE LEAGUE.

I heard several coaches today talking about how when they voted for All-Conference that they thought about players that "they had to adjust against" or players that "they had to key on" or players that "were difference makers in the matches where they saw them".  To all of that I say... EXACTLY.  That's why everyone should be eligible.

Don't give me a filtered ballot and ask me to make a conditional choice.  Don't insult my intelligence by telling me who and who isn't eligible for an award.  Don't create a system that can be marginalized and manipulated to gain recognition.  Don't put Coach Sirola in the position that she was in.  Again, I don't know the whole story and I never will.  So what.  That doesn't make the way we are doing it at the present the right way to do it.  By the way, nobody put me up to this or encouraged me to write this.  I've been thinking this for years.  I'm just getting tired of thinking that the official lists are conditional in some way.

The coaches definitively know the entire league.  They are fully qualified to vote with the entire league as the player pool.  Why restrict their mindset and make them ask why someone is or isn't on a nominee list.  Secondly, like it or not, it is the SID's job to know their sports.  The "S" and the "I" in SID stand for SPORTS INFORMATION.  So, an SID is supposed to be knowledgeable in INFORMATION about their club.  We can debate about the quality of their voting, but again, do not restrict their choices in some artificial way.

There.  I got it off my chest.  I'm sure some people will agree with me and I am sure there are people out there ready to defend the current (lousy) system.  That's fine.  I'm independent here.  I am just covering volleyball.  I'm just a fan, who is a PA announcer who writes a silly blog that some people occasionally read.  But you know what?  I am going to keep doing it my way. 

At least I don't have a bunch of silly rules.  At least I actually sit down and consider the ENTIRE league and review ALL of its players in an attempt to recognize the best of the best - not a filtered subset of the best.

I know this isn't going to change things. And you can call me mad because I looked stupid arguing for a girl that wasn't even on the ballot?  You can say I am just embarrassed because I wasn't aware of the nominee list.

Well, maybe there a little truth to that, but in the end you know what?

I think a girl who put up the highest block per set rate in the last decade in the conference deserved a little recognition for those accomplishments at the end of the year.  So, kindly, excuse me for caring. 

And all the while, history will record that Jessica Pancratz - the person who blocked at the best clip in 10 years in the SLC- didn't get a single vote for All -Conference.  Why? 

Because of a rule that limits who can be voted for.

Sure.  Keep your rules.

She deserved the honor.  I'm happy to try and give her some of it.