Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

VC or DIA, Which is Better?

College Men

VC or DIA, Which is Better?

CWU v Utah. Joe Epperson photo.

Here’s a fun thought experiment - which competition has the most top college teams, DIA or the Varsity Cup?

I thought I’d find out. Using my own measurement - so in essence I am researching myself - I decided to look at the two competitions to see where the teams al rank.

Below you’ll see a table of the teams from the Varsity Cup and DIA. I extended DIA to a 13th team (basically saying that the Cal Poly v San Diego State game was like a play-in game, because it was). That way I could safely remove Oklahoma from the equation on the Varsity Cup side, and compare 13 teams to 13. Of these, two, Utah and Air Force, compete in both.

Here’s the list, with Goff Rugby Report rankings included:

 

Varsity Cup GRR Rank DIA GRR Rank
BYU 1 St. Mary's 3
Cal 2 Life 4
Central Washington 8 Davenport 5
Utah 9 Lindenwood 6
Navy 14 Army 7
Clemson 15 Utah 9
Arkansas State 16 Penn State 11
Dartmouth 18 Cal Poly 12
UCLA 19 Wheeling Jesuit 17
Air Force 21 Colorado State 20
Arizona State 22 Air Force 21
Texas NR San Diego State 23
Notre Dame NR Wisconsin 29

 

As you can see, the top two teams in the country are Varsity Cup teams - BYU and Cal. I don’t think there’s really an argument about that; the Cougars and the Golden Bears have shown themselves to be the best this year. So far.

It’s just as clear that St. Mary’s and Life are the next two best teams. At the top, then, the Varsity Cup could be called the stronger, by a small but obvious margin.

When you get into the middle group, though, things skew DIA. This is because Lindenwood and Davenport each almost beat Life twice. That’s why they get ranked up there. It is possible that Central Washington is better than those two teams, but the Wildcats haven’t had the opportunity to prove it.

We do know that Utah ranks below CWU because CWU beat the Utes this past weekend. We also know that Life, comfortable winners of Army in the fall, should be ranked above Army, and that since Lindenwood and Davenport were much closer to Life than Army was, the Lions and Panthers should be above Army, too.

Army beat Navy, so we keep that hierarchy solid (although Air Force also beat Navy and almost lost to Army and we’ve got them lower - go figure. Actually, that’s all because UCLA has been unpredictable, and that’s why Arizona State seems unfairly low, too … we blame UCLA.)

All of this is to say, there’s usually a palpable method to the rankings, and they are objective, but every now and then something weird happens. The overall upshot is that I think they are relatively accurate. And … the middle group of DIA teams is clearly stronger than Varsity Cup because Army beat Navy, who beat Dartmouth and Clemson (three times), who beat Arkansas State, thus pushing all of those Varsity Cup teams down.

On the lower end, it’s DIA also. While I'll cop to Air Force and Arizona possibly being ranked too low, there’s little doubt that San Diego State and Wisconsin are stronger than Texas and Notre Dame.

So here’s the list again, with added rankings values for Texas and Notre Dame. Both are teams that are on the rankings bubble, so I have assigned them an arbitrary ranking of 55. Then I have tried to get an average ranking of the two competitions.

Varsity Cup GRR Rank DIA GRR Rank
BYU 1 St. Mary's 3
Cal 2 Life 4
Central Washington 8 Davenport 5
Utah 9 Lindenwood 6
Navy 14 Army 7
Clemson 15 Utah 9
Arkansas State 16 Penn State 11
Dartmouth 18 Cal Poly 12
UCLA 19 Wheeling Jesuit 17
Air Force 21 Colorado State 20
Arizona State 22 Air Force 21
Texas 55 San Diego State 23
Notre Dame 55 Wisconsin 29
       
Avg Rank 19.6 Avg Rank 12.8

 

As you can see, your average DIA team ranks about 13, and the average Varsity Cup team ranks about 20. This doesn’t take into account Kutztown, which is in neither, and ranked #10 in our latest Top 50. Same goes for Central Florida.

Even if we moved Air Force and Arizona State a little higher based on my own criticism of myself, it wouldn’t change much. Air Force moves up on both sides, while Arizona State moving up would also bump Navy, Clemson, and Arkansas State down. 

What about head to head? I have a list of ten games between (I may have missed a couple) Varsity Cup teams and DIA teams (not counting games involving teams that are in both). The record is five wins for Varsity Cup (all by Cal and BYU), and five by DIA (four different teams).

So which competition is better? Well the final for either is going to be a great game. It looks like it will be Cal v BYU and Life v St. Mary’s, and they promise to be exciting and well-played games. Cal v BYU will be between the two best teams in the nation. The only way it’s not is if Life blows out St. Mary’s and BYU and Cal look bad in their final.

At the semifinal level, I can see some upset potential, but not a lot.

 

So which is better?

"Better" is a loaded word. By using "Better" in the headline, what I mean is, a more compelling, more competitive competition. At the top, Varsity Cup should be able to boast the top teams in the nation. But when you get down to the level of the 1st- and 2nd-round games, there’s no argument. DIA has better teams, and has, top to bottom, the more competitive playoff. 

This coming weekend, the Varsity Cup has Central Washington at BYU and Navy at Cal.

DIA has the rest of the 1st round with Colorado State at Lindenwood, Wheeling Jesuit at Davenport, and Cal Poly at Utah.

Can’t complain about any of those games.