Rankings Shmankings

Lists and rankings are usually not meant to be subjective.

They should involve cold, hard facts to reach a consensus on a certain topic.

In the Oct. 7, 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated, a list of America’s best sports colleges was compiled.

The criteria “combined a variety of factors in arriving at the rankings of Division I schools, including performance during the 2001-02 school year in the big five sports (baseball, football, hockey and men’s and women’s basketball); position in the ’01-’02 Sears Cup NCAA all-sports standings; number of varsity, club and intramural sports; range of recreational facilities; and whether or not spirit-boosting events like Midnight Madness were held.”

Taking all those factors into consideration, I am unhappy to report that St. John’s finished 116th out of the 324 schools that made the list.

And while for schools like Iona and Stony Brook, it may have been an honor just to be nominated for this list, the first thing that went through my mind was – who the hell is ahead of us that we’re 116th?

Now I’m not going to sit here and say we should be rated as the best sports school in the country – St. John’s is far from it.

The top 24 are the unquestioned leaders when it comes to college athletics.

Institutions like Texas, Michigan, Nebraska and Duke are always winning in one sport or another, whether it’s women’s cross-country or football.

Stanford, Notre Dame and Tennessee also fill the upper echelon, which I, as well as many others who follow college sports, don’t have any problem with.

Once you get below the No. 24 team, Maryland, then things start to get a little hazy.

Like Brigham Young at No. 28. BYU gets credit because the “Salt Lake Olympics added sizzle to Provo.”

What do the Olympics have to do with BYU, other than that they were in the same state?

It looks like SI feels that the Olympics are a “spirit-boosting event like Midnight Madness.”

Of course on this list you get penalized for some things you can’t control, like the school’s location.

One of the main reasons that Pepperdine clocks in at No. 50 is because its “Malibu campus overlooks the Pacific.”

Schools like Miami and UCLA are also awarded bonus points for being situated in a warm, tropical climate with lovely beaches nearby.

I guess someone forgot to tell the editors that about 95 percent of college students attend school in a state other than California and Florida.

Then there’s Northern Iowa at No. 69.

Not the University of Iowa (No. 61) or even Iowa State (No. 62).

Northern Iowa.

They get credit for the women’s rugby team winning a D-II title (despite the fact that the rankings are for D-I schools) and because, of course, Kurt Warner went to school there.

I’m sorry but St. John’s basically has an entire wing in the Basketball Hall of Fame (i.e. Chris Mullin’s destination in 2006) plus a potential Hall of Famer in baseball, John Franco (don’t laugh, second-most saves in history), a Cy Young Award Winner in Frank Viola and a perennial All-Star shortstop, Rich Aurilia.

But that doesn’t matter, because apparently all those guys can’t match the lone star power of Warner.

More atrocities include Furman, who deserves the 82nd spot in the rankings because not only did the Paladins finish No. 2 in Division I-AA football, but professional golfers Betsy King, Dottie Pepper and Beth Daniels went there; Liberty, which boasts the third best flag football team in the country and a 3-8 I-AA football squad and Brown, which scored big in the rankings because “major facility upgrades are on the way.”

All St. John’s has done is add a $5 million baseball stadium, a $6 million soccer complex and a half-million softball field in the past two years.

But apparently, that means jack squat.

Rutgers checks in at No. 99.

Despite the football team going 2-9, Rutgers had top 10 soccer and fencing programs, and the basketball team went 18-13.

Let’s see. St. John’s football went 1-9, albeit in I-AA. The soccer team went to the Final Four and the fencing team finished second in the nation. Oh yeah, and the basketball team won 20 games.

Yet in Sports Illustrated’s world, that puts the Red Storm 17 spots behind the Scarlet Knights. Must be that fuzzy math.

In fact, the only Big East schools that St. John’s is ahead of are Providence (because the Friars don’t have football or baseball) and Seton Hall.

Not to worry, because we did finish ahead of athletic stalwarts like St. Peter’s, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Southern-Baton Rouge.

Heck, PC and the Hall finished behind Southern Baton-Rouge.

See, now doesn’t that make you feel just a little bit better? I didn’t think so.

Other gems include No. 107 Long Beach State and its beach-bowling club, No. 110 Oregon State because there are four clubs that feature different styles of horseback riding and No. 112 William and Mary with their football stadium that is designed to hold livestock shows.

So with all this in mind, I’m going to start a list of the magazines I don’t take seriously anymore: 1. Sports Illustrated.

Jason Della Rosa is a senior journalism major who thinks that SJU was worthy of at least a Top 100 ranking, perhaps in the range of No. 89. Send comments to [email protected]