Talking Capital One Cup and James Anderson with ESPN’s Rece Davis

Yesterday at The Times Center in New York City, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference announcing the new Capital One Cup.

The Capital One Cup is a new premier award for excellence in on-field performance in Division I college sports. It awards one men’s and one women’s NCAA® Division I athletics program for their cumulative on-field performance across multiple sports during the fall, winter and spring athletics seasons.

Once the seasons are done, $200, 000 will be awarded to the winning program (men’s and women’s sports) for graduate level scholarships. The winners will be announced during the annual ESPY awards.

After the press conference I had a chance to speak with ESPN’s Rece Davis who hosts College Gameday and is an Advisory Board member for the Capital One Cup. We spoke on the new Capital One Cup and San Antonio Spurs’ rookie James Anderson.

As Rece and I meet, he gives me a hearty handshake.

Jeff: The Capital One Cup has to give a new competitive wrinkle to collegiate sports.

Rece: I don’t think there is any question about it.  It gives an opportunity for sports that don’t get a lot of recognition to have some of the light shining on them for a change and it still maintains the fan interest of the sports who follow them closely whether its men’s basketball or football or women’s basketball. There are so many things out there that get a lot of attention in college sports that aren’t great. But that’s the minutia. The percentage of things that go wrong in college sports is very small. The Capital One Cup is an opportunity to shine a light on things that are right. The accomplishments on the field, opportunities from an educational stand point for the two programs that win and really it’s an opportunity to generate some enthusiasm, some bragging rights, some back-and-forth with the fans by keeping up with the standings over the course of the year.

How user friendly is the Capital One Cup point system going to be for the fans?

They will just be able to log on to the website and see the standings. It’s based on how teams finish with the premium placed on winning championships. It’s based on the final results of the season, the final poll, whatever it may be so there won’t be any guess work, there won’t be any ambiguity to it. You have a certain amount of points based on how you finish. Depending on what tier the sport is in, I know that sounds a little confusing, but basically think of it this way: the sports that get the most attention, get the most points. They get a bonus bump for finishing well in those sports. That’s basically the easiest way and really the only way to think of it. But as far as logging on and keeping up, they’ll (the fans) log on the website, there will be a point total there. They’ll see and they’ll know that with the upcoming sport they will have to do well if they want to make up ground with a school that is in front of them.

I can hear it now, “How many Cup points do you have?”

Exactly! And I can guarantee you that athletic directors will care about that and in turn the donors will care about that and in turn the fans will care about that and they’ll do that!  Like Robin Ventura mentioned today, that if you have a tennis program and it doesn’t do well in the Capital One Cup and you think “If we had done better in tennis, we would have won this thing,” you’re going to get that type of positive energy and positive input to encourage schools to try to be the best in as many sports as they possibly can be.

It’s as if this is going to unify all the teams at a particular college.

Exactly. It’s team work. It’s one of the tenets of Capital One. It’s one of the things you learn by playing sports and its something you learn for all aspects of your life so it’s a really good marriage.

Let’s talk about college basketball and the most recent NBA draft. James Anderson from Oklahoma State was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs and many felt he was a steal. Why is that?

Hubert Davis, my partner on College Gameday, thought he was the best and most pro-ready shooting guard in the game last year. He’s a mid-size, athletic guy, very strong and he has the physical ability to breakdown defenses at the pro level. He is also an explosive scorer. He has all of the tools you want but because Oklahoma State was good not great, maybe some of the general public didn’t necessarily look at him as being one of the big guys. Also he wasn’t just one year removed from high school and what happens, I think now with the NBA, sometimes if a guy is around too long, people start trying to pick him apart or they start looking for what’s wrong instead of what’s right. There’s a lot right with James Anderson. He’s going to be an excellent player.

Where you suprised he didn’t get drafted higher?

A little bit. But a lot of that ends of being contract, need, what are we doing with our (cap) space, injuries, whatever it might be each team has it’s own unique set of circumstances that often orchestrates who they draft and who they place value on. I’m not ever too often surprised once you get past the top 10 or 11 picks and what a team might do because there’s usually some type of ulterior motive at work.

What makes Anderson a Spurs type player?

Because they have a lot of blue-collar role player guys who are more talented than you think. Guys who aren’t afraid to defend, guys who don’t worry about number of shots, guys who don’t worry about the number of plays run for them, guys who, within reason, are not too worried about about minutes. Anderson, while being the star of his team (Oklahoma State) I never viewed him as being a selfish player at all. He’s a guy who understands “the team,” he understands fitting into a role, he understands contributing in a variety of areas other than just scoring. Because of that, that’s why he is going to fit in with the Spurs because the Spurs have a history of winning championships with guys like him.

Thanks to Taylor PR and Don Povia (Blogs With Balls) for inviting Project Spurs to attend the press conference.

(photo by Don Povia)