Jerritt Elliott has been the Texas volleyball coach since 2001. In that time, the Longhorns have been to four NCAA national-championship matches and his Longhorns won it all in 2012.
He has a plan to add a best-of-three scenario to the NCAA Tournament rounds of 16 and eight. We talked about it last week:
Jerritt has some good ideas. One other way to increase fan interest is to have some Cinderella teams make it to the Championship match. I’m a Stanford fan but would be the first to admit having Stanford, Texas, Nebraska, Penn State, and a few other programs always be the ones at the final four leaves out too much of the fan base. It would be exciting for some programs not known as volleyball powerhouses to get into the Final Four.
Also making the biggest venue in Nebraska as the permanent site for the Final Four would guarantee a big sellout crowd every year. This is looking beyond Covid-19.
Where to begin on why this is a horrendous idea. First it all sounds like sour grapes because this change would have directly helped his program when it was upset. He complains about the length of the season being too long, which was just extended by a week last year, but now he wants to add an additional week which could result in an extra 4 matches for teams advancing. It gives a ridiculous advantage to the higher seeds by having them host all the matches. In no sport at any level does one team get to host all the matches. Neutral sites would be fairer. The additional matches (not games as he refers to them) would heavily favor the larger programs as their rosters also tend be be larger. It detracts from the amazing effort of a lower ranked team to overcome the perennial favorites. This does not grow the sport. The rich get richer. Volleyball matches are a best of 5 format in which there is plenty of opportunity to overcome mistakes or make coaching changes. Now to add possibly 20 more games to the format will just drag is out. Rally points were adopted years ago to speed things along and now he wants to add matches to slow it all down in his claim to advancing the sport. NOPE. If you want to advance the sport, move all tournament matches to regional neutral site like basketball’s March Madness. These also tend to be larger venues which brings the potential of additional fans in the seats. He mentions the other sports not having single elimination but they don’t follow anything close to his suggestion. If you want a second chance, create a loser’s bracket allowing teams to play their way back in during the first 2 rounds. His idea that this revision happens in the rounds or eight and sixteen is misguided and based on his idea that programs such as his typically make it through the first two rounds easily but run in to problems later as the competition intensifies, again rewarding the stronger programs.
The Olympics absolutely has single elimination contrary to his claim. They first play round robin in divisions with the winning teams advancing to single elimination in the rounds of sixteen and beyond (I have no idea what he was talking about not having single elimination).
If you want to make a radical change try changing the scoring format as follows. Continue rally points through games 1-4. If the match gets to a fifth game the revert to the old system of side-out scoring and reduce the winning score necessary to only 11 points still requiring the win by 2 points.
Two contentions posed by earlier comments… that livening up the Final Four by allowing different schools to be part of it would be good for the game and that neutral tournament sites would have better attendance… are directly contradicted by evidence.
The all regional seeding years of the NCAA Tournament not only left many good teams on the sidelines but put teams that were not even close to the top four in the country into the Final Four over and over again… and serious volleyball fans remembered those years with disdain. I heard evidence of that in New Orleans in 2002 when Florida finally won a “game” (now called a “set”) in the Final Four for the first time: a derisive cheer from the audience. That Gators team wasn’t like all the Gators teams that were swept 3-0 in a national semi-final: it earned its way into the Final Four, and the 2003 Gators were more than good enough to win a national championship but ran into an undefeated senior-laden USC in the national final.
The neutral-site regionals NCAA WVB held were marred by poor attendance… and if the host team didn’t make it, attendance was often dreadful. Even an upset by another area team doesn’t necessarily lead to good attendance at a rival school’s arena… nearby Santa Clara beat Stanford in 2005 in a sub-regional final but the regional at Maples Pavilion the following weekend was still pretty poorly attended.