Were Penn State’s Four Consecutive NCAA Titles Good or Bad for the Game (and is there Parity Now?)

Parity relations don’t tell if there is nothing or something, but just if there is an even or odd number of elements

Coaches to 2011 Nittany Lions: How Can We Miss You if You Won’t Go Away?

During the 2011 NCAA Finals, more than one coach, and many commentators, endorsed the notion that it was “good for volleyball” that Penn State wasn’t in the finals, after winning the tournament four times in a row. We doubt Russ Rose was as sanguine about the comments, though we certainly can see the logic from a fan’s perspective — fans like to see their teams win, and get tired seeing another team win every time.

But did Penn State’s 109 match winning streak and four consecutive national championships really depress fan interest? Were they really “bad for the game”? Or, is the contrary true? Did the media focus on Penn State’s unprecedented success actually help to grow the game? Did television coverage increase as a result? Did viewership rise? Did more fans come to matches?

We have no idea of the answers to any of these questions, nor do we know how much of a role we would assign to Penn State’s dominance from 2007 through 2010. But our hunch, untethered to facts, is that it was good for the game of volleyball, and that if, through some magic (if you’re a Penn State fan) or evil curse (if you’re a fan of pretty much any other school), Penn State had managed to win a fifth consecutive national championship in 2011, that wouldn’t have been bad for the game.

Tell us what you think, in the poll below.

[poll id=”4″]

Parity – Has it Arrived?

One thing we do know is that there have been recent signs that “parity” — for good or  ill — may have arrived for NCAA women’s volleyball.  Although two seasons hardly establishes a trend, if you take a look at the table below, you’ll notice that six of the ten Final Four teams with the greatest number of losses from 1998 through 2011 were in the years 2007 to 2011.  That doesn’t prove the “parity” case, but it certainly is suggestive.  Hopefully, a quant or two will read this and set us straight, statistically speaking.  Also, maybe they can explain the quote about parity.

Won-Lost Records (Matches and Sets): Final Four Teams from 1998 to 2011

YearTeamConferenceNCAA FinishWins (Matches)Losses (Matches)Wins (Sets)Losses (Sets)
2008Penn StateBig TenFirst3801142
2009Penn StateBig TenFirst3801148
1998Long Beach Big WestFirst3601088
2003USC Pac 10First3501058
2000NebraskaBig 12First34010213
1999Penn State Big TenFirst36111015
2006Nebraska Big 12First33110114
2005WashingtonPac 10First3219810
2002USC Pac 10First3119512
2007Penn State Big TenFirst34210418
2001Stanford Pac 10First33210121
2010Penn StateBig TenFirst32510320
2011UCLA Pac 12First3069731
2004Stanford Pac 10First3069835
2001Long Beach Big WestSecond331NANA
1998Penn StateBig TenSecond3411046
2005Nebraska Big 12Second33210115
2009TexasBig 12Second2929113
2007Stanford Pac 10Second32310124
1999Stanford Pac 10Second3139518
2000WisconsinBig TenSecond334NANA
2008Stanford Pac 10Second3149523
2006Stanford Pac 10Second3049219
2010CaliforniaPac 10Second3049523
2011IllinoisBig TenSecond32510043
2004MinnesotaBig TenSecond33510534
2002Stanford Pac 10Second32510227
1998Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3229916
2001Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3129414
1999PacificBig WestSemi-finals323NANA
2008Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3139721
2000USCPac 10Semi-finals2938720
2004WashingtonPac 10Semi-finals2838923
2006UCLAPac 10Semi-finals33410424
1999Long Beach Big WestSemi-finals3149523
2008TexasBig 12Semi-finals2949424
2011USCPac 12Semi-finals2959125
2006WashingtonPac 10Semi-finals2959226
2007USC Pac 10Semi-finals2959135
2005Santa ClaraWCCSemi-finals2758830
2001ArizonaPac 10Semi-finals2557925
2010USCPac 10Semi Finals2969136
2010TexasBig 12Semi Finals2768434
2004USC Pac 10Semi-finals2367632
2011Florida StateACCSemi-finals2879039
2007CaliforniaPac 10Semi-finals2688736
2009MinnesotaBig TenSemi-finals2898841
2003MinnesotaBig TenSemi-finals26118549