The Bird’s Eye View of Bible Quiz

I am going to write a three part post-Athens’ New Years Classic article. I am unofficially titling the article, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Today is the second part–The Bad. Ever since Cassius Clay made the word “Bad” a double entendre, this concept has gotten tougher. Brant Callaway and I compiled stats and together came up with a ranking of the teams 1-9 and 11-25. Supposedly, the Consolation Champ was 10th. I will cover that in more detail in the ugly article, but for now we will stick with what they have. Today we are talking about performance on the larger scale.

Since I am originally from Florida, I will start by looking at them. You will hear talking heads like Matt West go on about the success of Florida. He will say that Florida took 6 teams in the High School division. Five in the top 10, 2 in the top 5, and an overall good showing for the state. The one Junior High team got Second in that tournament. He might even insist that the 6th High School team from Florida beat the eventual champs in their first playoff quiz, and had they not decided to help Woodside, Woodside would have had their first loss in their first afternoon quiz. Now, let me start by saying that is all true. West has done a good job of building several teams that are close to being able to contend. If, in fact, he has anything to do with it, he could say that there are 4 ministries which no state can really match.

But I say unto you that the stat that sticks out the most is for the second year in a row, no Florida team was in the two team quizzes. Let’s face it. Last year, FBCCF was the second best team and at the early Athen’s New Years Classic tournament, they were probably the best. This year, I thought the upside of Clavary and FBCCF were higher than anybody. Both got out in a situation where strategy would have gone a long way. Open Door and Truth both underachieved, if only slightly. So, while Florida clearly has built several programs that are solid programs, there is something that prohibits them from winning these major tournaments. As close as FBCCF was to Pleasant View last year, they never beat them in a tournament, though in head-to-head quizzes they were about equal. Why? This year, Calvary has finished third at the Midseason and 5th at the New Years Classic. In both cases, they should have been better. Why? I say that there is something bad about the Florida teams strategically. That is bad.

Let me say that this is not limited to Florida. There were strategic errors all over the place. I saw several teams who gave up a sure win when they shouldn’t have. I saw Kentucky do poorly when they made an error. But my friend Brant Callaway says, “strategic errors don’t matter for Kentucy. They are just that good.” This is bad. I fear that teams are getting so “good” that they don’t think quizzing smart is essential. I saw teams jumping aggressively when they should have been laying back. Just asserting that I think the strategy is bad.

Brant likes to joke that every ten years Athens will win a national championship. That may be, and since it is still a few years away from 2013, maybe I should not worry. But I don’t think it has ever previously happened, where both of the host teams finished in the bottom 5. That is bad. Now, the other teams in the PQA are often plugged by Jeremiah Townsend. But, as a whole they were unimpressive. Their top team finished 7th. Of course, they had teams finish 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 17th. So while I would argue that is bad, it is true that they are all growing together and could make an FQA like run. On the other hand, Georgia teams are really tough to figure. All four of them finished in the bottom five.

As for teams that are bad in the Cassius Clay sense. This is the year of the traditional programs who bring just one really strong team. Three of the top four (Woodisde, Pleasant View, and Old Paths) fall into this category. They are baaaaad. Woodside had two new quizzers that have the proverbial guts of a burglar. Maybe they are just so new that they don’t realize the pressure, but they are stellar. As long as they can continue their extreme greatness, they are a certain top team for at least this year. Pleasant View returns the top two quizzers from their dominant team of last year. They got two twins that I hear are actually better than the Wells occassionally in practice. They could be real baaaad. And just when we thought the Keenan dynasty was over at Old Paths, Daniel teams up with a fellow named Luke to create another championship contender.

In all these things I see one overriding trend. Ten years ago, Faith (SC) could get three teams in the top 10. Just two years ago, FBCCF had two teams in the top 4 and Woodside had two teams in the top 7. This year, FBCCF barely had two teams in the top 10. The overall depth in the past was bad (compared to today). I think the top teams of the Douglas era might be as good as the top teams now, but they certainly did not have to work as hard to assure that they won. Because there are so many teams that are good, the good teams must put their best foot forward. They cannot get a lot of good teams to sneak into the top 10. You can’t take a team in an off year and count on being top five. And this is bad news to any new team starting out that doesn’t want to finish in the bottom five.

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