VolleyMob sat down with the NCAA Selection Committee Chair, Kelcey Roegiers, the associate athletics director at Georgia State, to answer all of the questions on how the NCAA Beach Championships field was selected Sunday and why one team got in over another or how the seedings came about, etc.
The committee selects three teams from both the East and West regions, then moves on to chose the two at-large picks and then takes the final eight teams that have been chosen and decides the seeds.
To get things rolling with Roegiers, we started with the West region as the top three picks were a little less controversial. Below is our conversation with her as she guides us through the entire selection call from UCLA being picked first to the final seeding decisions.
In the West, from the outside it seems the three picks were pretty easy to choose with three conference champions and three Top 5 teams. How did that discussion go?
The first two were easier. The last one wasn’t hard, but we still wanted to go through the process of looking at all of the data and information.
UCLA being No. 1 was a no-brainer. With Pepperdine it was a no brainer, but obviously we still had to ask Nina to step off the call, just to make sure everybody was comfortable with them, which they were … but we still wanted to do our due diligence and have her get off the call.
So now you are down to the No. 3 spot in the West, which ended up being Hawaii. Who else was in the running?
We compared Hawaii and Pepperdine first and went through the whole criteria and obviously Pepperdine came out of there.
Then we really looked at the rest of the four, so Cal Poly, Long Beach State, USC and Hawaii. At that point we went through the criteria again, and Hawaii was the clear third for us. That was a little bit of a no-brainer for us too once we went through the criteria. I think in our heads a lot of us knew that but we were being diligent and going through the numbers again.
Did the fact that those teams won the conference titles stand out or was it key victories or no bad losses? What made them stand out?
For UCLA, nothing was really mentioned too much about them winning the conference. I think over the course of the season, their body of work kind of spoke for itself.
But, we really do stick to the criteria when we are looking at regional bids: their win/loss percentage, head to head competitions, strength of schedule and results against common opponents in their region.
I think all of us kind of had a feeling it was going to be those three (UCLA, Pepperdine & Hawaii) as the three out of the West, just based off of their data – their win/loss record, their wins and who they had gotten and, at the end of the season, obviously winning conference tournaments helps. We went through the process, but we kind of knew that it would be those three in the end. It got harder when we got USC, Cal Poly and Long Beach when we had to get to that at-large process.
Flip to the East before we get to the at-large bids. Florida State had to be the no-brainer of the East, having won the CCSA over the other three teams you eventually put in the field.
FSU was a no-brainer on the East side for the same reasons as UCLA on the West side. There really wasn’t much conversation that needed to be had on that. With their body of work and the numbers that they produced throughout the season and some of their wins, it was a no-brainer for us.
And then it seemingly got a lot more difficult. With three teams from the same conference vying for those other two spots, what put FIU in the field over LSU?
We worked backwards at that point. A lot of us knew that South Carolina was our second, just like Pepperdine in the West, but then we kind of wanted to work backwards and see if we could eliminate from the bottom up. So, Georgia State was out, and then the conversation became FIU/South Carolina/LSU and the criteria. That is really the bread and butter of what we work with and we literally go A,B, C, D, E when we are comparing two teams.
At that point, we felt FIU edged LSU. I can tell you that was tough. That one and obviously the Cal Poly, Long Beach vs. LSU decision we will talk about later. Both of those were very, very close.
It was very very tight, but we go by the criteria and each member of the committee gets to weight how they value the criteria. Some people might think head to head is valued higher than strength of schedule. That is the beauty of having a committee is that everybody gets to weight those criteria bullet points.
It was definitely a healthy conversation. It was a good conversation. It obviously wasn’t as easy as Pepperdine or UCLA or even FSU, but we really go back to that criteria.
Did the conference finish factor in?
Remember that we worked backwards, so we didn’t have South Carolina in yet. Obviously we spoke about LSU being in the championship game against FSU. We have a good committee and we like to at least put all of the information out on the table. So that was obviously brought to the table, but then it goes back to the criteria. I know I probably sound like a broken record and I will probably say it 100 times, but if you look at my notes from today for each team and for each comparison we did, I write A, B, C, D, E and when we get to at-larges – A, B, C, D.
When we go to results vs. common opponents, we literally write down every team they beat and every team they lost. We didn’t just look at losses, we wanted to look at who the wins were against too to see if they countered each other and different things like that. It is a full body of work, but it was a tough decision.
Now on to the at-larges… Based on the eventual seeding, which wasn’t done until after all of the at-larges are picked, it would seem that USC was the first selected. Is that accurate?
So we went process of elimination. We wanted to look at all four of those teams – USC, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and LSU – and at the end of all that, USC was the next team to get in.
With Coach Todd Rogers from Cal Poly on the committee, how did that at-large process hash out since he couldn’t be on the call when his team was being discussed?
It is kind of tricky and Donna (Heinel) from USC was the same way and the same for Ted Gumbart, who is the A-Sun Commissioner, but the President for the CCSA. He is literally off the call for most of the East conversation.
So, it is interesting sometimes, because when we get into some of those conversations, although we may be talking about Long Beach/LSU, USC’s name is still being thrown in there, so to make it as ethical as possible, Donna stayed off during those conversations. Todd was on and off. But, if we ever think that we haven’t come to a conclusion on that one team to get that committee member back on, we keep them off.
So, I can’t really tell you when he got on and when he got off, but Cal Poly out of those four was the first one out once we went through the criteria and matched teams against each other and looked at the at-large criteria, which is only four bullets – head to head, record vs. common opponents, strength of schedule and overall record.
Ok, you decide not to take Cal Poly, so now USC, Long Beach and LSU are still in the mix. How does it proceed from there?
We did a comparison of all three teams, using that same criteria, and at that point, USC going against Long Beach, we felt USC took that. That is how they became the first at-large team.
So now it is down to two for the final spot, LSU and Long Beach State. Was there ever a consideration of making it four East and four West?
I don’t even think that would be ethical to bring up in the conversation. That was never even discussed on our call the whole duration. The answer is No!
Back to the final discussion, it is LSU vs. Long Beach State. What tips it for LSU?
You know it is funny you ask that, because it is not just one thing. If it was just one thing, every coach would go out and do it. That is why there are four criteria and also why the committee gets to weight those criteria personally.
They didn’t play each other, so that was a wash. Then, their results vs. common opponents, they were both 7-8 so that was also pretty much a wash as well, although we did look at both who they beat and who they lost to. Then we looked at strength of schedule and overall record. After all of those discussions and who some of those seven and eight wins and losses were, they were very similar. When you look at both of their wins, they both beat Cal Poly and Arizona and Nebraska and Grand Canyon, but one had one vs. FSU and one had one vs. USC. Again, that is just conversation that we have going through it. That is just part of the process.
I wish there were just one thing and every coach could do it to get into the tournament. It is just at the end of the conversation, everybody got to weigh their vote and that is the way the cards fell, in LSU’s favor.
It was a unanimous vote. This is my third year on the committee and we have never not had a unanimous vote. I don’t know what that says, but I have asked before, can we have more dialogue on this, tell me a little more from your perspective because we have coaches who have played some of these teams, administrators who are the sport supervisors who have traveled with these teams and seen some of these other teams.
This was another lengthy conversation and it was close, but unfortunately one of these teams was not going to make it into the national tournament.
So you finally have your eight teams and it is time for seeding. How does it work out that FIU, who was one of your three East selections gets the No. 8 seed, whereas LSU, who was an at-large takes the No. 7 seed?
Being in the same conference was not even brought up. The biggest difference when you look at the criteria, in-region, FIU was stronger. Out of region, when you look at the national rankings, LSU had wins over Cal Poly and Southern Cal. So, it was interesting that it worked out that way, but that is the beauty of vetting through this whole process. You not only have to competitive regionally, but you have to be competitive nationally.
So are the tables reset when it comes to seeding and regional rankings no longer matter?
We then move to the national rankings and look at those teams again nationally and that opens that back up again.
All of the matches ended up being East vs. West, I assume that was unintentional?
I didn’t even know that until you told me that. Very unintentional. No one even brought that up. That is interesting though.
Anything else you want to share about the process?
I think a lot of people know this, but it is never fun when you think you are supposed to be somewhere and your name doesn’t get called. We see this in every sport, but I am really proud of this committee. We do a very thorough vetting of these teams, and not just losses but wins and we break down and we really rely back onto the criteria. Again, each committee member gets to weigh which criteria weighs heavier for them.
While it is unfortunate that some teams don’t get the opportunity to go to the national tournament, we, as a committee, spent a lot of time on this and had a lot of good conversations and dialogue. These weren’t easy conversations. Teams are playing to get there and we understand that. There is zero bias from us from a committee standpoint. I get that teams feel that might be getting bypassed, but at the end of the day, it was very well vetted and no stone was left unturned.
Obviously with so many teams and more coming in, do you hope the process opens up, so you can let more teams in?
We are not on this committee to have an easy job. We are trying to grow the sport and expand the sport and get more people to be in a conference so we can eventually get to AQs and bring more teams to nationals and grow that experience. I think that has been the hope since year one. There is just a process to getting there.