No “win and you’re in”

Elite Series Classic berths will now be determined only by AOY points.

If the Bassmaster Elite Series had been governed under a new rule for 2015, Shaw Grigsby wouldn't have qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. But Grigsby doesn't have any qualms about the 2015 rule change.

An Elite Series victory will no longer come with an automatic qualification for the Classic, B.A.S.S. announced last week. The Elite Series Classic berths will be determined strictly by Toyota Angler of the Year points at the end of the season.

Even though Shaw Grigsby earned a 2012 Classic berth with a win at Florida's Harris Chain in 2011, he thinks this change is a good one.

"The AOY points system is the best way to determine who gets in the Classic," Grigsby said. "It's the right thing to do."

Grigsby's opinion pretty much reflected a consensus among Elite Series anglers. When the group was polled by B.A.S.S. in June this year, 63 percent were in favor of qualifying Elite anglers for the Classic based on AOY points alone.  

Chris Lane, the 2012 Classic champ, was the only one this writer spoke with who expressed some concern about the change. His problem isn't personal. Lane is double-qualified for the 2015 Classic after winning the Elite Series event in March on the St. Johns River and finishing 12th in the final AOY standings this season.

"I'm thinking about the fans," Lane said. "They think if somebody wins a tournament, he's in the Classic. For example, if someone has a great win at Toledo Bend, they expect him to be there in the Classic.”

Several Elite Series pros welcomed the rule change.

"I've been wanting (Classic berths) to be 100 percent based on AOY points for the last couple of years," said Skeet Reese. "Win-and-you're-in is great for keeping morale up for everybody all season.

"But there shouldn't be a bonus program for getting in the Classic. This is the truest way of determining the qualifiers for the Classic – how you performed all season long."

Mark Davis particularly likes the new rule, saying, "A win is great, and there are a lot of rewards for winning a tournament. But if you're not consistent throughout the season, you shouldn't be there (at the Classic).

"I never agreed with that. I think they've finally got it right."

Paul Elias likes the new rule, and would tweak it even further, saying, "I think this is good. My personal opinion is that it should have gone away in the Opens before it did in the Elite Series.

"With the amount of money it costs to fish the Elite Series, why would you let an Open winner in when they only fish three tournaments?

"I've never been a fan of win and you're in."

Then you have Kevin VanDam, whose streak of 24-straight Classic qualifications came to an end this season. KVD is fine with either system. Just tell him what the rules are, and he'll go compete under those rules.

"I don't know that one is better than the other," he said. "I'm fine with it either way."