To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Kevin VanDam's Bassmaster Classic demise have been exaggerated ... but only a little. The man who has qualified for 24 consecutive Classics currently sits in 53rd place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings. Since only the Top 50 will be invited to the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship and since only event winners and anglers fishing the championship have a shot at earning a Classic berth through the Elite Series, you might think KVD is done, that the streak has ended and that there's nothing left for the B.O.A.T. (Best of All-Time) but to go home to Kalamazoo and get ready for next year.
Not so fast.
KVD's Classic hopes are not dead yet ... not quite anyway. Though they're certainly on life support, one foot's on thin ice and the other is on a banana peel and the fat lady is warming up backstage. Nevertheless, there is a chance, and it goes like this.
VanDam's regular season is over. He's stuck with 443 AOY points, but that's not the same as being stuck in 53rd place. Those 443 AOY points might leave him in 55th place when it's all over ... or 51st ... or, dare I say it, even 50th.
The way that could happen is for the anglers immediately ahead of VanDam in the AOY race who are still fishing at Cayuga Lake to slip ... just enough to fall past him and elevate him to 50th and into the AOY Championship.
For that to happen, four things need to transpire, and all of them will either happen or not happen on Saturday.
Three of the following six things needs to happen:
(a) Brent Chapman (currently 10th at Cayuga) needs to finish 15th or worse;
(b) Davy Hite (currently 26th) needs to finish 40th or worse;
(c) Chris Zaldain (currently 6th) needs to finish 26th or worse;
(d) Fred Roumbanis (currently 12th) needs to finish 32nd or worse;
(e) Casey Scanlon (currently 7th) needs to finish 40th or worse;
(f) Marty Robinson (currently 14th) needs to finish 49th or worse.
OK, so half of those things need to happen and none of following can happen:
(a) Davy Hite (currently 26th) finishes 25th or better;
(b) Mike Kernan (currently 48th) finishes 19th or better;
(c) Nate Wellman (currently 46th) finishes 16th or better;
(d) Russ Lane (currently 43rd) finishes 12th or better.
Bottom line is this: if half of the first group happens and none of the second group happens, KVD is in the Classic. For everything in the second group that happens, you need one more thing in the top group to happen in order for VanDam to get in.
Confused? Think of it this way: It's Week 17 of the NFL season and your beloved Cleveland Browns are teetering on a playoff berth. Johnny Manziel didn't really pan out, but 65-year-old Brian Sipe came out of retirement to lead the Browns to a 9-7 season. Now all of the Browns division rivals have to lose in the final weekend and the Dolphins and Patriots have to play to a scoreless tie ... and Godzilla must destroy Tokyo after defeating King Kong in the battle for giant monster supremacy. When that happens, your Browns are in!
So don't put a fork in KVD's Classic hopes just yet. There's always time for a miracle!