Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seasonal Differences

On Rivals College Baseball Message Boards the other day, a poster suggested the following:

Here's a revolutionary concept for you that I know won't be popular on this board. Why don't all the Ice Belt teams and all the smaller school teams UNITE in a voting bloc to use their superior numbers to force some tough changes.

There are a couple HUNDRED schools that participate in the current D1 level of the NCAA that have NO practical chance of ever reaching a super regional, much less the college world series. Many, many smaller schools, from the north AND south alike, are nothing more than third-rate sparring partners for the "players" who annually scheme, jostle and try to play their way through to Omaha.

The current D1 has TOO MANY teams, with too many diverse liabilities, to all be competing for that tiny piece of the pie we associate with success, especially here on Rivals. If 200 teams got together and squawked loud enough, it would eventually cause the "great divide". Hopefully, it would hurry up what in my eyes is inevitable--a split of the current 300 team field of Division 1 college baseball.

I do not want the LSUs, Texas, ASUs, Miami, Fullertons, etc. to suffer at all from the impossible tasks of trying to create some semblance of a level playing field. I love watching and following great, high talent elite D1 baseball teams kick and knife their way as high as they can go. They play a vital role in the growth of our sport. But...

More than half the current D1 teams don't belong there. They don't have the money, the school backing, the climate, etc. to compete with the giants. I live next to a huge northern university. We are six days away from legal, NCAA approved "skills practice" for the 2010 season. When I logged on this morning, there was a flashing weather warning calling for frostbite conditions on all exposed skin. Temp was nine below zero, wind chills 20-25 degrees BELOW zero. There is at least a half foot of ice and frozen snow covering everything.

Please spare me the crying towels, and I know the ballplayers can do limited workouts in the gym or armory. But is that hindrance in any way equal to what an Arizona or Miami will be putting up with next week?

We could cut the current D1 participants from 300 teams to 128 teams and still keep the 64-team NCAA tournament field. Still keep regionals, supers and the CWS the way it is. The other 170 or so teams would become a Division 1-AA with a little shorter season and their own playoff system much like 1-AA football has. The administrations could save travel and competitive scholarship monies if needed, and still offer a baseball team for their student athletes.

The 128-team D1 schools would be free to negotiate with the NCAA and each other about start dates, travel, scholarship numbers growth, TV rights, etc. They can do what is best for their situations, while not having to compromise because of the limitations of many of the current schools in D1.

I am convinced the change is coming anyway. I would just like to see it happen sooner rather than later. I think everyone would come out better off in the long run. And it is certainly better than schools having or choosing to drop baseball altogether.

Personally, we feel that this is a tremendous idea. Unlike basketball and football, many of the northern schools are just not committed to baseball because of the high cost of early season travel and little return on investment.

Why not have a warm weather division and a cold weather division that play at different times? Or...why not let the cold weather schools play a fall schedule that starts in Mid August and runs through late October? Fan attendance would be bigger, the weather more like real baseball and the travel is cut to a minimum.

Another solution is to let the cold weather states, split their season to September/October and April/May. Then, they can still participate in the College World Series...maybe with better results...because they can compete for better players since they are not playing or practicing in bitter cold weather.

What do you think?

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