Last night, they GymTide went down on the farm to take on Auburn gymnastics. Alabama had not lost to Auburn since 1979, winning 117 straight times. That is a lot of times. Auburn gymnastics has improved greatly over the last few years, advancing to the Super Six in last year’s national championships. In addition, Auburn Jesus is real. If you don’t believe that, you have not been paying attention: they are the modern day Robert Johnson. It came down to Auburn’s final competitor, needing a 9.925 to win, and (this may shock you), she got exactly that as No. 8 Auburn edged No. 4 Alabama in dramatic fashion, 197.275-197.250. The Auburn gymnasts had no less than seven season high scores on the night. In short, they pulled a rabbit out of a hat…..again.
Stopping the streak sucks and all, but in the grand scheme, it doesn’t matter because of how gymnastics is scored for end of season rankings. Going into last night, Alabama was ranked #4 in the country, behind Florida, Oklahoma and Michigan based on the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) system. WHAT IS THAAAT? Okay, pay attention, this part is important.
For the first six meets, the scores are just averaged to rank teams. After six meets, the system of ranking changes to the RQS system. The Auburn meet was our seventh, so RQS is in play. The RQS system is more complicated, but allows for teams who have had a bad meet or two to throw out those scores so that they don’t affect their rankings in the long run. To calculate RQS, first take the top three away scores. Then take the next three highest scores — home or away. Finally, drop the highest score of the six and average the remaining five.
Here’s the thing, when the GymTide went to Florida and lost 198.175-197.525, some called it a blowout. And if you look solely at the scores, it was. But lost in that talk is the fact that our score was the highest road score of the year by any team. Our road score in Auburn was almost as impressive. To recap, Alabama’s road scores are 197.5, 197.2 and 196.3. To contrast, top ranked Florida’s road scores are: 196.8, 196.4 and 197.0. Ours are better (Florida’s home judging voodoo will probably still have them ahead of us when the rankings come out).
So everybody calm down. Losing to Auburn in anything sucks, but keep your eyes on the prize. This team is not the favorite to win the national title this year, but it took a herculean effort by the barners to win. Auburn’s previous six scores averaged 196.195. They were more than a point better than that last night. That sort of variance is unheard of in college gymnastics, so take it for what it is: Auburn Jesus struck again, but the GymTide have four more meets to flex their muscles and build on their RQS before SEC, Regionals and the National Championships.