Ridiculous: OSU baseball in NCAA field
Last May, when an obviously-undeserving OU baseball team made the NCAA Tournament, I suggested a plausible, yet scary, reason why the Sooners made it. Perhaps the NCAA baseball committee literally doesn’t have a clue. Doesn’t pay attention to details like record and schedule and conference standing.
I was wrong, of course. The committee knows what it’s doing. And this is what it’s doing: protecting the status quo in college sports.
We saw that this May, with the inclusion of Oklahoma State in the 64-team field. The Cowboys had no business being in the NCAA Tournament, yet here they are, on their way to Clemson as a No. 3 seed. OSU placed ninth in the 10-team Big 12.
Conference finish is the best indicator of a team’s strength. Everyone is on a level playing field. And the Cowboys checked in at the 20 percentile. OSU didn’t even make the Big 12 Tournament, and while some Southeastern Conference teams have made the NCAA without making the eight-team SEC Tournament, this was an even goofier inclusion, because all 12 SEC teams play baseball. SEC teams that don’t make its tournament are in the bottom third of the conference; Big 12 teams that don’t make its tournament are in the bottom fifth.
OSU beat out Nebraska, and only Nebraska, in the Big 12 standings. That’s why most people were surprised when the Cowboys received a bid. But we shouldn’t have been surprised.
This is what NCAA committees do. The exact same thing the BCS system does in football. It protects the powers. We see it in basketball all the time, with the omissions of the mid-majors. We see it in baseball, too.
College sports are not run by some shadowy men in Indianapolis offices. College sports are run by the power brokers in six conferences. Commissioners of those leagues and presidents, athletic directors and coaches at their member institutions.
Committees are not stacked with those power conferences. Only four of the 10-person baseball committee comes from a power league. But everyone knows the protocol. Everyone knows the system is meant to yield positive results for the power conferences.
RPI, for example, the ratings index used in baseball and basketball, which is based on record, opponents’ record and opponents’ opponents’ record. But RPI is flawed from the outset, since the power conferences control scheduling and determine who they will play and where. The RPI is designed to boost the status of the teams from the Big 12 and SEC and Big Ten.
College sports, big-time college sports, exist not for those lofty reasons you see on commercials. Big-time college sports exist to maintain the status and revenue streams of the power conferences. That’s why OSU is headed to Clemson this week.
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