Why I Chose U of Miami #20 On The Men’s Power Rankings Ballot

I was one of four who filled out a ballot for the first edition of men’s power rankings that were recently released. This was the first time I’ve done a power rankings ballot, and my #20 pick of Miami (FL) struck some readers as out of the box. That’s not an unreasonable reaction considering Miami doesn’t even have a men’s swim team, only a diving team made up of 3 divers. So I’ll explain why I believe putting Miami at #20 is not only incredibly plausible, but may actually be somewhat conservative.

For the sake of providing context, it’s important to note that Miami dropped its men’s swimming program after the 2000-2001 season. In the 15 seasons since, Miami has only had a diving team and they have placed in the top 20 at NCAAs 7 times, the highest of which was at the 2002 championships where they placed 13th and scored 106 points. That shows what a team can do at NCAAs based solely on diving. You can view the complete NCAA Men’s Championships history here.

With that in mind, first I’ll explain my ranking methodology:

The first thing I did to start my ballot was to take all teams that scored at NCAAs last year and subtract out the individual points they lost to graduation or transfers. Next, I looked at the incoming class and estimated how many potential points they could add individually, and how they would effect relays. After that I listed out the top 25 teams from my new point totals. When I did that, believe it or not, Miami was #17 on my list. I finalized my top #20 by looking over the list to see if I had any gut reactions to it, and moved teams accordingly. That step actually briefly moved Miami out of my top 20, until I thought about it more and put them at #20, removing Virginia Tech.

So here’s why Miami is a strong top 20 contender:

They finished 21st at NCAAs last year with 51 points. They had 2 divers compete, Briadam Herrera and David Dinsmore, both of whom scored and return to the team this year. Herrera is a senior this year and has scored at NCAAs in all 3 of his previous seasons, improving every year. He placed 2nd in 3 meter and 5th in 1 meter diving last year, so there is still a little room for improvement from him. Dinsmore is a sophomore this year, and won platform diving last year as a freshman. Their return alone puts them in right about the same place as last year (around 21st). The factor that I believe puts them in the top 20 is the addition of 2016 10 meter AT&T National Champion, 2-time Jr. National Platform Champion, 4-time National Team member, and 2-time Jr. World Championship Team member, Zach Cooper. I think it would be unrealistic to suggest Cooper won’t score in at least one diving event at NCAAs this season, which will only boost Miami upwards from the position it ended in last season.

One more thing I’ll add is that I believe the fact that Miami only has 3 people on its team is an overall advantage to them. That means those 3 divers get all of their coach’s attention, which in my opinion makes them more likely to improve than at other schools with a larger diving roster. Purdue runs their diving program similarly, keeping a low number of very high level divers, and their diving program is one of the best in the world.

Even given all of that though, I put Miami at #20 when I could have realistically put them as high as #17, in my opinion. Historically, it takes roughly 70-85 points to get 17th at NCAAs, which would be an increase of about 20-30 points for Miami, which I believe is what they are looking at, assuming they don’t have any injuries or anything along those lines. However, the reason I still kept them at #20 is that predicting diving placement can still be pretty volatile, even at the highest levels, and one mistake in prelims can stop even the best diver from qualifying for finals. That’s why I kept it on the low end, even though I personally believe we’ll see Miami crack the top 20 by a couple places next March.

Update: Originally post said Miami dropped its men’s swim team before the 2000-2001 season, the 2000-2001 season was actually the last season the swim team was active.


  1. CraigH says:

    Yes, but didn’t you guys admit that your rankings are a hybrid between year-end NCAA predictions and Dual Meet rankings? Doesn’t seem like they’re going to win any dual meets with only three divers…

    • WaitAMinute says:

      To be fair, how many top teams have had dual meets yet to create the hybrid? UT hasn’t had a meet outside of orange v. white yet they’re #1.

    • Spencer Penland says:

      Yes, but I think an exception needs to be made for Miami since the men don’t even compete at any straight dual meets due to their unique situation. Plus for the first ranking, it’s not based as much on dual meet power since we haven’t seen any dual meet performances yet. Also, I’m not even that big a fan of dual meet rankings as a metric because I think duals are largely irrelevant. The fastest swimmers swim their off events all the time at dual meets, and they’re not a good indicator of what a team is capable of. Literally any college team would beat Miami in a dual, but that doesn’t make them better than Miami.

    • Jared Anderson says:

      Our Power Rankings in general skew more towards NCAA viability than anything. Dual meet prowess matters, but more so in a “how is this team performing in dual meets so far this year” sense

  2. Swimswum says:

    This is completely legit.

  3. SwimGeek says:

    Notably — Miami finished 8th at NCAAs in both 1995 and 1997 with almost exclusively diving points. I can’t find the results to confirm, but In 1997, I’m fairly certain that not 1 point out of the 197 pts scored came from swimming.

    Also — the team was not cut before the 2000-2001 season. I know for a fact that it finished the 2001 championship season — and I believe it may have continued for 1-2 yrs beyond that before being fully terminated. For what it’s worth, the announcement that all scholarship funding would be cut came in spring 1998.

    • SwimGeek says:

      I stand corrected on the ’97 Canes — Nelson Mora scored a 12th place in the 2-fly, so it was 5 pts from swimming and 192 pts from diving.

    • Spencer Penland says:

      You’re correct, I looked into it and the 2000-2001 season was the last season the swim team was active. I’ve updated the article. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    • Pau Hana says:

      I think Ohio State had a few years in the 80’s and 90’s when they finished top 10 (or 15) solely based on diving.

  4. Foreign Embassy says:

    Just another reason, IMO, why swimming and diving should be completely separate sports and have separate championships, not combined. It would make more sense to call it “Diving & Gymnastics” and combine those two Olympic sports. Similar types of athletes. Similar movements and training. Combining diving with swimming was the worst blunder the NCAA ever made. And to think that some schools prevailed in NCAAs bc they had 100+ Additional points in diving. It would be one thing if swimmers trained to also be divers and vice versa. But at the NCAA level, that is not realistic.

    • Spencer Penland says:

      That’s interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone argue swimming and diving should be separated. Just curious, would you also suggest track and field should be separated, because events from the two aren’t similar?

      • Foreign Embassy says:

        Interesting point. I haven’t considered that bc I’m not as familiar with Track & Field. But IMO it would actually make better sense to combine swimming and water polo (than swimming with diving) bc you have the same base level requirement: swimming. And certainly a lot of college polo players cross over to the men’s team to stay in shape although I can’t think of a polo player who scored in the NCAA off the top of my head. But in either case having scholarship money for only 9.9 for men’s swimming and 4.5 for men’s water polo when a good men’s team has 30 members, still wouldn’t make sense to combine the two ?.

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