On Bid Allocation: There was overwhelming feedback from players to “make the regular season meaningful” and to “stop determining bid allocation from the previous year’s nationals.” Those are two of the big driving forces behind the structure this year. I can imagine coaches challenge now of having duel, oft-conflicting goals (help earn your conference/region bids and develop the lower half of your roster), but this was a very known trade-off and I have a hard time imagining this fundamental part of the structure changing in future years.
Also on Bid Allocation: It has got to be better than having to play consolation games at Nationals to earn bids the following year both for the teams playing and the teams dependent on that strength bid (who are often not the same).
On ‘messed up’ rosters: While I’m too lazy to look back at the actual USAU rules, I believe that there was some sort of threat of penalty to intentionally “mess up” rosters. That said, it would not be too difficult. Add one unique non-playing but eligible student to your roster above and beyond your actual roster for each regular season tournament. For the events that help bolster your rating keep that player on your series roster. I do believe that this is highly unethical and am surprised to see you question whether it is or not. I like the idea that someone mentioned on the USAU board that, for teams with ineligible rosters at some events, only the games from that event that improved that teams overall season rating be dropped (any games that hurt their rating with ineligible players be dropped).
On parity: I agree with you that coaching is a factor, but the other big factor impacting that is the growth of HS Ultimate. You mentioned Flywheel. On that ’09 team they had three HS experienced freshman (Annie Fisher, Paula Seville, and Vicki Chang). Those three added depth to that team and have helped with long term continuity of the program.
In Lindsay’s response she mentioned the Tufts sophomores, Hailey and Claudia, both former HS players. Having them in addition to a solid coach and a solid groups of Juniors and Seniors makes Tufts competitive with top teams (albeit after an easier road to the top bracket).
And Lindsay’s own UNC is led by former HS player Leila Tunnel and bolstered by a solid young crop of former HS players from the work that Lindsay and others have done building the youth scene in NC (How she has time for it all, I will never understand)
On Oregon’s Injuries: I realize now that wasn’t a very fair question to ask. I know the difficulties of trying to impartially comment on a topic I have a vested interest in. I should have expected one of those stock coaching answers. That said, based on all the scores I’ve seen and all the commentaries I’ve read it seems pretty clear that the second tier of teams is large, but if Oregon is healthy they stand alone in the top tier. If Oregon is banged up, the field is wide open. At least that’s the story I’m going in to the series with.