Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flukes of CWS universe didn't get Big Ten memo

The baseball cards are marked.

The deck is stacked.

The fix is in.

The playing field tilts to the south. Or the South, as the case may be.

So how in the world does anybody expect the Big Ten to have a chance in hell of making the College World Series? Everybody knows Northern schools don't have a chance.

And in this June 2 story in the Omaha World-Herald, league coaches wonder why they shouldn't just take their gloves and . . . play in the summer and fall. Say to hell with the CWS and the whole crooked, Southern-fried, put-up deal that is college baseball:
Nebraska is now playing in a conference convinced that college baseball’s rules and structure prevent the Big Ten from fairly competing for the national spotlight.

The league-wide frustration has grown to the point that the conference’s most seasoned and respected voice, Minnesota’s John Anderson, is suggesting the Big Ten (and other northern schools) secede and form a new league that plays deeper into the summer.

Purdue’s having a milestone year, yet Boilermakers coach Doug Schreiber is still in full support of his own proposal to play a portion of the season in the fall. Most — if not all — league coaches want the NCAA to return to a true regional bracket for postseason play.

Radical? Yes. But the way Big Ten coaches see it, their squads are being forced to swing the bat with one arm, while everyone down south gets to use both.

“The current system that we have, we’ve learned, doesn’t produce the equity that it could,” Anderson said. “Part of the reason, people don’t want to change. The sport’s making money, there’s TV, growth, attendance — which kind of masks the problem.”

The problem is climate, and a mid-February season start date (still too early up north). It’s travel burdens (fiscal and physical). It’s academic concerns (Big Ten squads can miss no more than eight class days). It’s the NCAA tournament selection process and the overvalued RPI. It’s an investment in facilities (the Big Ten’s made recent strides), thus a lack of attendance and interest. It’s oversigning rules that Big Ten schools must abide by that most conferences don’t have; before finalizing annual rosters, the Big Ten allows its teams to commit one extra scholarship to no more than two players.

During multiple World-Herald interviews with several Big Ten coaches over the past month, the league veterans each presented this warning: Play baseball in this conference and you’ll be staring at an impassable uphill trek to the sport’s summit.
WITH THIS in mind -- this laundry list of injustice heaped upon the poor, beleaguered and put-upon Big Ten baseball programs . . . these disrespected Nanooks of the North in spikes -- we welcome to the 2012 College World Series a couple of schools from obviously tropical climes.

So, a subarctic Omaha greeting goes out to CWS contestants the Seawolves of New York's Stony Brook University and the Golden Flashes of Ohio's Kent State University. (NB: Kent is in the subtropical part of Ohio; Columbus, home of Big Ten member Ohio State, is in the tundra.)

On the other hand, though, maybe it's not the weather.

And maybe it's not a giant NCAA baseball-rigging scandal concocted by a nefarious cartel of Southern universities.

Maybe it's something else, Big Ten. Maybe, just maybe . . . it's you.

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