What a difference a year makes

Early in the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series season, I wrote a couple of articles on the new scoring system for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. The points system not only determines the winner of sport fishing's most prestigious award, but also the great majority of berths in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake, Okla.

As we approach the final Elite event of the season, it seems like a good time to take another look at the new system to see what differences it's made. (Besides, when I was in Green Bay, Ish Monroe asked me if I had run this year's performances against last year's points system. It seemed like a good project for a leisurely Independence Day.)

Here's what I found.

Overall, there were fewer disparities between the old points system and the new system than I anticipated. Yes, it jumbled the standings a little bit, but all of the anglers in the top 10 right now would also be in the top 10 under the old system. The same is true for the anglers ranked 11-20.

Brent Chapman would still be leading the AOY race, but it would be Todd Faircloth right behind him and Ott DeFoe in third. Under the current system, Faircloth and DeFoe are reversed.

Chapman would prefer the old system, though, if only because it would give him a bigger cushion headed into the finale. Right now, if he can make the final 12 at Oneida, no one can catch him. Under the old system, he'd be able to fend off all challengers with a finish in the top 17.

So, Chapman would benefit under the old system, but it's still pretty close. The big difference occurred further down the standings.

The angler who's really hurting under the new system is Britt Myers, currently 37th in the AOY standings and just about on the bubble of qualifying for the Classic. Myers has had some very high highs and some very low lows this season.

After finishing last at the opener on the St. Johns River, Myers got hot. He was 16th on Lake Okeechobee before scoring back-to-back runner-up finishes at Bull Shoals and Douglas. A respectable 31st at Toledo Bend had him in the top dozen or so in the AOY race and looking strong to qualify for his first Classic.

Then the roller coaster started its descent. Myers was 73rd on the Mississippi River and 85th on Lake Michigan. Because the new scoring system is very unforgiving for finishes in the mid 70s and lower (you score fewer points than if you had finished dead last in the old system), Myers has slipped just outside of the cut to qualify for the Classic.

Under the old system, he'd be 26th and looking pretty safe going into the last tournament of the season. That's an 11-place difference for the very same performance.

Of course, Myers can still get to the Classic. But instead of being able to coast in with a mediocre performance at Oneida, he's going to have to make that first cut and a little better to give himself any kind of chance to fish Grand Lake next February.

For what it's worth, I'm not saying that the new system is better or worse than the old one. Just that they're different, and those differences will always have consequences that help some anglers and hurt others.

Mostly, though, the old and new points systems appear as though they'll produce very similar results insofar as who's going to the Bassmaster Classic.

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