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CBB Column: Q and A for Jan. 13th

Trevor Coleman (Courtesy of Missouri Media Relations)

Trevor Coleman (Courtesy of Missouri Media Relations)

Since we are eagerly awaiting the start of the 2009 College Baseball season, I thought I would do a weekly segment with users sending us questions about interesting topics about issues or teams. I will select about five questions every week to be posted with answers on Tuesday morning. You can send us your questions for next week by clicking here.

Do you think the MLB’s elimination of the Draft and Follow rule has hurt college baseball by forcing top players to sign before their senior season?

I think this has actually helped College Baseball actually. I really don’t like to see coaching staffs held as hostages until the first day of classes. We saw MLB teams working up to minutes before the first classes at the respective university to sign their draft picks. At least now, that decision is made much farther in advance of the season.

What team do you see winning the CWS this year? Who is your darkhorse?

My early favorite this year is North Carolina with their outstanding pitching and a very solid offensive lineup. My darkhorse is Michigan as they return Chris Fetter who should be one of the best pitchers in the nation but need to become more solid on offense.

After Charlotte, which teams do you think have the best chance at making a run in the Atlantic 10 in 2009? Also, are there any freshmen looking to make an immediate impact?

I love the 49ers and expect them to win the A-10 conference until some other teams start committing funds to building some nice facilities. I think that Xavier with Steve Brown (.350 average) and closer Jordan Conley (2-2, 10 saves, 1.19 ERA) leading them will have the best chance of winning the conference after the 49ers. The Rhode Island Rams are always a strong squad but will struggle as they lost a ton of offensive talent. We will have a full A-10 preview in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that.

What are your thoughts on the 2009 Missouri Tigers?

I really like the Tigers in the Big 12 this year with the strong pitching of Kyle Gibson. If he can become more consistent on the mound and become a top notch starter in the Big 12, there is no way that Missouri can’t win this season. They also return catcher Trevor Coleman and Aaron Senne who should lead the offensive side of things. I expect them to make a Super Regional this season. We will have a full Big 12 preview in the coming weeks.

How much success do you see John Pawlowski having with Auburn this season and in the future?

I think this year will be an “adjustment” year for the Tigers as they get used to the new coaching staff and the players will have to get used to the different coaches. Hunter Morris is still the heart and soul of the offense but baseball is a two way game and the Tigers will need to find some quality arms to eat up some innings this season. Coach Pawlowski is a highly regarded coach and should be able to bring the Auburn program back into national prominence.

As always, you can send your questions for inclusion in the next Question and Answer article by clicking here.

  • fred4945

    You know, if you’re going to represent yourself as an authority on college baseball, you ought to do enough research to avoid appearing foolish.

    For example, in your January 13 Q&A column, you make two assertions which — to be very candid — demonstrate ignorance of the game

    DRAFT & FOLLOW: You claim MLB’s new August 15 deadline to sign June drafts is an advantage to college coaches because a drafted player will now make his decision to sign or attend college “much further in advance of the season” than the first day of fall classes.
    The August 15 deadline is a few days to a week or so before fall classes. You consider that difference a great advantage to a college coach? That’s absurd. Where does a Division I coach find a quality prospect to sign on August 15? Ask Rob Walton at Oral Roberts U how much an advantage that was to him this year.
    By the way, most draft-and-follow players were chosen in the lower half of the draft. The clubs rarely made an effort to sign them before the school year. As often as not, those players received NO OFFER AT ALL from the drafting MLB club. The purpose of the D&F was to see how much the player developed during the year — and then decide whether to sign or decline him in May before losing rights in the next June draft. That process had nothing to do with a college losing the player in August or September.

    MICHIGAN: You chose Michigan as your “dark horse” to win the College World Series this year. Why don’t you poll coaches in the last 5 or 10 CWS championship games. Ask them if a Big 10 team could win the CWS in the forseeable future. You’ll get a unanimous “No”. First, a team must play a strong schedule to have any decent chance of making the CWS. There were no Big 10 teams among the top 90 in 2008 strength of schedule — or in any other recent year. Second, an athletic program must invest in exceptional facilities to be a national power. No one in the Big 10 has.
    The cold weather teams (Big 10 Big East, etc) can screw up the rest of college baseball schedules for the next 10 years. They still won’t be competitive. The sport has left them behing because they won’t make the necessary investment to compete. Thus, their chances of winning a national title are roughly equal to their chances of changing the weather.

    If you want your blog to be taken seriously, you need to invest some serious thinking before sitting down at your keyboard. I would not write so bluntly if you had not developed a pattern of thoughtless comments over many months.

  • SwayzeCrazy

    Thank you to Fred for pointing out the obvious to many of us who follow college baseball.

    I would also like to point out something equally egregious from the last Q & A…..

    When discussing the new transfer rules……The writer stated that he felt it was time baseball joined the ranks of football and basketball with players having to sit out a year. You failed to mention the two sports we should “join” are FULL SCHOLARSHIP sports. I can promise you that most college baseball coaches, at least the ones that are competitive, are 100% against the new changes with regards to transfer rules. Not to mention roster limits and mandatory scholarship allocation. I agree that baseball should join the ranks and be giving adequate scholarships to field a team, what other college sports do players have to play to participate?

    I read this blog often, but more often than not, I come away feeling why bother.

  • scott

    Pawlowski is going to do a great job at Auburn. He takes over a team with a lot more talent than people give them credit for. They will contend this year in the SEC West, but look for them to have an even better 2010 campaign.

  • Fred,

    I am going to pull this out of your comment,

    By the way, most draft-and-follow players were chosen in the lower half of the draft. The clubs rarely made an effort to sign them before the school year. As often as not, those players received NO OFFER AT ALL from the drafting MLB club. The purpose of the D&F was to see how much the player developed during the year — and then decide whether to sign or decline him in May before losing rights in the next June draft. That process had nothing to do with a college losing the player in August or September.

    What happen quite frequently was the teams would convince the players to attend Junior College so they then can turn around and signed them in May. Hence the Draft and Follow. When they did away with the Draft and Follow it eliminated the extra pressure on coaches to see which kid would show up in August because MLB teams lost those rights to that kid if they went to a 4 year School.


    The only problem is Title IX. If you add scholarships to Baseball The Universities will have to add it to Girls side of the equations. Not Going To happen because most of these school are not even using their full allotment of 11.7 scholarships in Baseball.

  • BullysRHman

    Some of these harsh comments to the editor are based on myopic thoughts.

    Northern baseball programs and their respective lack of participation in the CWS is more about money, weather, and the timing of the season. Most/all northern teams schedules are 1/3 home games and 2/3 away games. For a typical non-revenue sport, investing in a Mecca facility up north doesn’t make sense for these programs for so few games. Even if they did, do you think an LSU would schedule a 3 game series with Michigan in March when it is still winter? NO.

    Do you think if they did it may cause their 8000 fans to feel abandoned and angered? YES. What about the local revenue these 8000 fans generate? So a northern team hops a plane, gets a motel, eats in restaurants and tries to compete while the home team sleeps in their beds, no travel, no missing of classes, less disruption, better chance at performing.

    As long as the season includes winter you will have this issue. Add in some bias to the RPI and the # of northern tournament qualifiers decreases. As far as Michigan, then don’t have the horses. There are better northern candidates.

    The DF? Player signs NLI with D1, gets drafted in a possible money position, MLB strings em along in a parked JUCO, D1 loses player for the season, player either signs, re-enters draft, etc. This type player under the old rule already put the D1 program second at the outset.

    NO DF, same situation, only difference MLB loses rights if player doesn’t sign even if player keeps draft eligibility open by attending JUCO. The D1 program is still 2nd and MLB has no rights. Under this change, MLB team drafts more for signability as they lose rights 8/15 anyway. Many players now won’t get drafted at all and at best a flyer pick. D1 coach is in a better position than before.

    Your question above fred is an easy answer. The 8/15 deadline versus 1st day of classes doesn’t really come into play for non-money picks as they won’t normally sign anyway out of high school. Drafted Juniors not in the big bonus rounds usually make their intentions heard early, and blue-chippers can be construed as GONE to the pros. That little window between 8/15 and the start of classes gives D1 coaches enough time to orchestrate a few more JUCO transfers within the pre-enrollment period. Foley is pretty much correct.

    The transfer rule is accepted but lacks in the number of exceptions, or outs that should be granted to players whose purpose the rule was meant to protect.

    Non-counters should be free to migrate. No money-no ruling.

  • biggeorge

    The same old whining out of North. The problem is teams like Michigan State and Michigan play about the same number of home games as most of the southern and western teams. Only the big SEC teams who pack in the crowds have a decided edge and maybe a small amount of others. My team, Arizona played 30 home games the exact number that Michigan State did. Van Zant and Maloney want to give road winners bonus RPI points. I am okay with that but it seems most of the “road” wins are actually neutral field wins. Michigan beats up on lowly Villanova in Florida. That certainly doesn’t quality for bonus points IMO.

    In other divisions, northern teams compete just fine. Idaho based Lewis & Clark win championships by the bunch. It is a joke to see Big 10 and Big East crying about the freaking weather. How weak!

  • I guess Louisville isn’t a Big East team that competed in the College World Series in 2007. Missouri State also took part in 2003.

    Maybe, I don’t know the exact details of Draft and Follow as has been pointed out but I try my best to know more about players and teams then the detials of the
    MLB Draft.

    BigGeorge, Lewis and Clark plays in one of the nicest facilities in the country for NAIA and they usually host the NAIA World Series which doesn’t hurt their chances of winning it.

  • BullysRHman

    Michigan played 21 regular season games at home in 2008

  • BullysRHman

    biggeorge, LSU opens with Villanova.

    Michigan State had 23 home games played

  • BigGeorge, it’s “Lewis-Clark State”; Lewis & Clark is a D-III school in Portland.

    While Lewiston, ID is indeed in the northern half of the US, it has a micro-climate; L-C State is able to play home games in February, even though Washington State’s field, only 30 miles away, is under a foot of snow. And Lewiston doesn’t get any of the monsoons that visit Seattle and Portland every winter.

  • fred4945

    Since there were so many comments which referenced my first post, let me try to address them by category or writer….

    Brian, the whole point of my criticism is you shouldn’t coment on the Draft & Follow issue until you’ve learned enough about it to comment intelligently. Your claim that you try to know more about the players & teams than about the MLB draft says a lot. The MLB draft, you see, IS important to college baseball. It has a lot to do with the talent which will be available to college teams, not to mention the impact the draft and college baseball have had on one another over the years.

    DRAFT & COLLEGE RECRUITING — BullysRHman, thanks for your thoughtful and cogent posting. I would take exception to 3 points. First, Brian is not correct about the draft and, I’m sorry to say, neither are you. Your point was that college coaches come out ahead in the draft rule changes because the August 15 deadline still allows them to go get jr. college players. Hardly.
    One of my duties as a community college asst. coach is placement of our players in 4-year schools. I’ve done it for 20 years. We had over a dozen players transfer on 4-year baseball scholarships this year. JuCo players are not signed as much early in the spring. Instead, the best scholarship opportunities for JuCo guys are from May through early July. That’s when nationally-competitive colleges’ coaches realize, “Gawd, I’ve GOT to find a weekend starter (or catcher or leadoff hitter, etc) and now! JuCo players who sign in this period usually receive much larger scholarships than high school seniors (top-10 rounders and those rare certain starters excepted).
    Last year, all of my players has signed scholarships by early July. That’s pretty common from year to year.
    There aren’t any quality junior college guys left by August 15. If the 4-year coach signs a freshman, it’s usually from an in-state JuCo. (That kid had better be awfully good, because by signing a JuCo’s freshman in August, the 4-year coach is probably burning his bridge with that JuCo for any future prospect.)

    COLD WEATHER SCHOOLS — Brian claims Louisville and Missouri State (2008 & 2003 CWS participants) disprove my claims that cold weather schools will never compete for a CWS title. I wouldn’t call either of those a “cold weather school”. Even so, comparing Lousiville & MO State to the “northern” schools (let’s use BullysRHman’s term) proves my point. L’ville invested in a new facility with pro lights, field turf, a 30′ x 40′ scoreboard with live video, and full clubhouse & training/rehab facilities. MO State built an 8,000-seat facility with all the same amenities but artificial turf & scoreboard video. Michigan, on the other hand, plays in a park built in 1923. Their indoor practice facility is a metal building with a couple of batting cages. A metal building in a Michigan winter? Can you say FREEZING?

    BullysRHman says it doesn’t make sense for northern schools to invest in quality basebal facilities. No problem — as long as they quit crying when they can’t compete because they won’t make the necessary investment.

    Look, the northern schools’ problem is commitment and investment more than weather. Oregon State and Nebraska manage to do it in “northern” weather. In the meantime, U. Minnesota has fallen from a nationally-competitive baseball program to a nobody. They can’t blame the weather because they play in the Humphrey Dome.

    BullysRHman says the RPI is unfair. OK, let’s look at Michigan. They were 46-14 last year. They were 25-6 in one of the nation’s weakest baseball conferences (Big 10). You can’t be blamed for your conference, you say. Well then, why didn’t they beef up their non-league schedule? Their non-league wins were against Villanova, Pitt, Mighty Toledo, Presbyterian (I thought that was a religeon. Is there a Bhuddist U?), Ball State, Oakland, IPFW (is that a union?), and several minor in-state teams. If they were truyl committed to get better, they could have played Tennessee or Vanderbilt or Louisville instead. The truth is they’d rather stay home and play the patsies because that’s the only way they could pad their schedule enough to get a regional bid.

    Nothing casts this issue as clearly as the Big East/Big 10 pre-season tournament. All these schools (except Louisville and maybe Cincinnati) were leaders in the shortened-season movement. So, how do they demonstrate their commitment to becoming competitive? They rent Florida spring training facilities for a tournament in which THEY PLAY EACH OTHER!!!

    No one — let’s be emphatic, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE — who’s serious about improving their game travels 1,500 miles to play Penn State or Northwestern, let alone Seton Hall or St. John’s or Connecticut. These schools bi*ch and moan about having to go on the road — and then they go on the road to play teams as unprepared as they are! Yessiree, that’s commitment.

    While they’re in Florida, Michigan will also play Sienna, Akron, Wisconsin at Milwaukee and — be still my beating heart — Jacksonville. They end their pre-coference schedule with IPFW and Eastern Michigan. Goodness, that ought to prepare anyone for the College World Series!

    Lets’s just call a spade a darn black shovel: The northern teams know they haven’t a prayer of becoming competitive with quality teams by improving themselves. That’s why they conned the NCAA bureaucrats into allowing them to “improve” by undermining everyone worse. If it damages college baseball, if it puts greater academic pressure on every college player…. Oh well.

    Every time a coach has lost his competitive edge, he’s hopped on this “let’s make baseball less competitive so I can win” bandwagon. Look at Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson. When he couldn’t compete any more (he hasn’t won a regional in, what, 15 years now?), he became a big proponent of the shortened season. This is the same guy who holds the NCAA record for most games played in a season.

    You don’t see the Pac 10 or SEC teams crying to the NCAA because they can’t compete for college hockey championships. Now that the Big 10 is no longer competitive in football, maybe they’ll petition the bureaucrats to force Florida and Texas and Southern Cal to play their first 6 games in Alaska.

    THE TRANSFER RULE. I’d go BullysRHman one better: Every D-I baseball coach should certify the upcoming season’s scholarships in August. Any player who’s had his scholarship pulled or reduced would be elegible to transfer, and to play immediately.

  • The biggest problem with College Baseball is the lack of change. Everytime someone wants to change the rules there is way too much fight in the coaching industry.

    I stick by my comments about the Transfer rules as I believe that it is the responsibility of the coaches/student-athletes to make good decisions about where to attend. Every Division 1 coach we have talked to has agreed that the rule change has been better.

  • The Big Ten/Big East are FAR from the worst conferences in the country.

    The Patriot League, Ivy League, SWAC and MEAC (after Bethune-Cookman) are pathetic when you compare the conferences.

    The Big East gets three teams in the NCAA Tournament every year so it isn’t even a one bid conference.

  • fred4945

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good comment, huh Brian?

    You say “The Big East gets three teams in the NCAA Tournament every year”. Name them. I count one or two in each of the past 3 years. They win 0 or 1 regional game a year between them. Do you think that’s nationally competitive, Brian.

    You claim the Big10/Big East are far from the worst conferences in the country. To support your point, you name 4 conferences which are weaker. Well, I can name 13 conferences which are better: ACC, Big South, Big 12, Big West, USA, MO Valley, Mountain West, Pac 10, SEC, Southern, Sun Belt, WAC, West Coast.

    It’s clear you’ve never played the game — nor spent time around the game, except to call somebody for a quote or watch it on TV. Your comment that “the biggest problem with College Baseball is the lack of change” is just simply ignorant. No part of baseball has been as open to change as the college game (equipment, speed-up rules, quality supervision of officials, etc).

    Then, you say, “Everytime soneone wants to change the rules thee is way too much fight in the coaching industry.” The only major changes which coaches have fought are those proposed by you east coast people who can’t compete. East coast programs (from Maryland north) and the northern programs have obtained rules changes which dilute the quality of play and make the academic challenge far more difficult on baseball players than normal students — or students in most other sports. You folks have stabbed the game in the back in a vain effort to give your under-competitive teams a chance. In the end, you will have harmed college baseball without having given yourselves any of the success you couldn’t win on the field.

    Your position on the transfer rule relies on your opinion that “it is the responsibility of the coaches/student-athletes to make good decisions about where to attend.” My dear Polyana, this ain’t a bunch of daddys drafting the local Little League teams. You should sit down before you read this, because you’ll find it a traumatic revalation: Coaches actually lie to get players. In fact, they do it often. Coaches can cast any scholarship player adrift after the first year without any reason. Players deserve a recourse when the experience does not meet the promises. But you, genius, expect 18 year-old kids to “make good decisions” the first time their faced with the recruiting experience. You’d be a LOT more justified in calling for the repeal of laws which protect consumers from unscrupulous used car dealers because “the sellers/buyers should make good decisions about the purchase.” Son, you know absolutely nothing about recruiting.

  • Maybe you need to know my background before coming on here

    St. John’s and Louisville were in the tournament last season. That counts for two teams.

    The year before we had St. John’s, Louisville, and Rutgers in the tournament. I guess that is three teams and one of the teams won a freaking Regional, then went on to beat a Big 12 team, then went to the College World Series and won a game. I guess that isn’t competitive. That same year a Big Ten school won a regional in Nashville TN.

    Again, I guess we can’t let FACTS get in the way of your opinion.

    Even back in 1999, The Big East got three teams in the tournament.

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