By: Justin Felisko
January 18, 2016
NEW YORK – The PBR’s Executive Competition Committee (ECC) revealed rule revisions for the 2016 season two weeks ago, and one of the exciting changes for fans will be the new format for World Champion Bull contenders.
The ECC unveiled a new process for selecting the World Champion Bull contenders that will be eligible to compete at the Built Ford Tough World Finals for the 2016 title.
With some of the top bucking bulls, including 2015 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John and 2015 ABBI Champion Bruiser, slated to compete at this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series event in Oklahoma City, here is a refresher on the new World Champion Bull selection process for this season:
• In 2016, the World Champion Bucking Bull (WCBB) contenders will be based on season-long performance, with the possibility of an additional selection by BFTS riders and up to two bulls selected by the ECC. In previous years, the PBR Livestock Director and the Top 35 bull riders selected the contenders through a vote.
• A minimum of seven, and a maximum of 10 bulls will be eligible for the WCBB title. Each bull’s top eight qualified scores from the current BFTS season will be totaled. The seven bulls with the highest combined score for their top eight performances will earn qualification to compete for the WCBB title.
• The Top-40 bull riders on the BFTS will vote for one additional contender to be added to the seven qualified bulls if the selection is not already represented in the top seven qualifiers. At their discretion, the ECC can select up to two additional contenders.
• Each contender will continue to receive two outs at the World Finals, with the highest combined two-out score determining the World Champion Bucking Bull.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said before the season that the change would make things easier for fans of the sport to keep up with the bull race throughout the entire year.
“It is a good system,” Lambert said. “More people can talk about it and follow it a little more. At the Finals, it still will be won by the best bull. That didn’t change. It really didn’t change anything except it is not a popularity contest as much as it could have been before. We have always reserved the right to put one in if the riders didn’t vote one in.”
Gene Owen had both of the high-marked bulls of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden – Sheep Creek and Little Red Jacket (45 points) – and said he is a fan of the new system.
He believes the new system would have benefitted Little Red Jacket last year after his bovine athlete was left off the World Champion Bull contender list.
“Absolutely,” Owen said. “It is either he makes it or he don’t. If he has a bad out, it doesn’t eliminate him. It is the top eight outs. If that is the way it was last year, we might have made it.”
Four-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson agreed.
“It sounds good,” Robinson said. “There would have been some bulls that didn’t even make it that didn’t have eight outs. The World Champion Bull is just that. It isn’t just a World Finals champion bull. That is eight outs. They will have to perform at all eight to be in that Top-7. If they don’t perform there, the riders aren’t going to vote them in. I think it is a good deal. The competition committee is there just in case there is a bull the riders don’t necessarily like and that is a good place for them.”
Matt Scharping added, “It is good. It is the way it should be. Let the bulls speak for themselves. They have to have eight good outs and that is the way it should be. That way it is not taking anything anyway from anybody. It is based on performance. If you are not performing, you are not going.”
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger said the move was a long time coming.
“I was real happy with it,” Berger said. “I think it should have been that way for quite some time now. When you put your bulls out there and give them eight, 10, 12 outs on the Built Ford Tough Series and they perform well, they should be rewarded and be one of those bulls in the running for World Champion.
“It is the best way to narrow down the field and I am really excited about it.”
One thing hasn’t changed, though. The World Champion Bull will still be determined by having the best two outs in Las Vegas later this year at the World Finals.
“This won’t change much about the championship, but it will be interesting,” Lambert said. “Guys that own bulls won’t have to worry if a bull is in or not. They can look at the standings to see if he gets in or not.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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