Louisiana goes 0-for-2011 in NCAA baseball
You have to go all the way back to May 1976, when the Superdome was not even a year old and we were just learning about Jimmy Carter and disco.
It had been 35 years since Louisiana was shut out of the NCAA baseball tournament, but that postseason streak came to a screeching halt on this Memorial Day.
A state that has sent four different schools to the College World Series, that has sent as many as five of its Division I schools to the postseason in a single year, just went 0-for-2011.
The only school with a beef is LSU. But Tim Weiser, Big 12 conference deputy commissioner and chairman of the NCAA Division I baseball committee, said it was less about the Tigers’ 36 wins and top-30 RPI and more about 30 Southeastern Conference games, in which Paul Mainieri’s club went 13-17 and failed to reach last week’s SEC Tournament. Nearly half of those wins came at home against the league’s two bottom-feeders, Tennessee and Kentucky.
“When you look at their conference results, we didn’t feel it warranted selection,” said Weiser.
LSU’s final RPI, according to Boyd Nation of the website BoydsWorld.com, was 26 – the highest of any team left out of the tournament. However, that is not the only data the NCAA selection committee uses.
Many will point to St. John’s and Mississippi State as two teams who got at-large berths that perhaps LSU should have replaced in the field.
The Red Storm finished second in the Big East and reached the tournament final. While their RPI was No. 53 – highest of any at-large team – they held up well against the teams in their league. I’ll stop short of breaking out the conspiracy theory, but it’s worth pointing out that St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch is a member of the selection committee.
The Bulldogs, despite losing a series to LSU nine days ago, not only finished with a better SEC record, but went 3-6 against the league’s three best teams (Vanderbilt, Florida and South Carolina) to LSU’s 0-6 (they were swept by Vandy and Florida and did not play South Carolina). Speaking of who didn’t play whom, Mississippi State’s schedule “bye” this year came against Kentucky, so within the league, State’s schedule strength was much better than LSU’s.
At the end of the day, the teams that likely knocked LSU out of the tournament were some of the ones we mentioned yesterday – Belmont, New Mexico, Arkansas-Little Rock and Seton Hall – the teams who pulled off conference tournament upsets in leagues getting multiple bids. That ate up some of those 34 at-large spots.
LSU missed the tournament for only the fourth time since 1985. The other seasons in the last quarter-century in which the Tigers failed to make the field were 1988, 2006 and 2007.
While LSU was watching last week, the closing collapse by other in-state teams was their final straw.
Southeastern lost its final three games – getting run-ruled in the regular-season finale by Northwestern State and then going 0-2 in the Southland Conference tournament.
Tulane’s only win in its final six games was a meaningless win over Houston in its final game of pool play in the Conference USA tournament.
Louisiana-Lafayette lost its final four games – its regular-season finale to Louisiana-Monroe and all three games of pool play in the Sun Belt tournament.
Southeastern finished No. 57 in the RPI, Tulane No. 75, ULL No. 77.
Louisiana’s level of baseball, simply put, is better than this. In the end, expect to see a significant trickle down of activity from this day – be it scheduling changes, coaching changes, recruiting philosophy changes.
And hopefully, it will be another 35 years before our state pitches a shutout on selection Monday.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…