A This is an excerpt a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in its entirety here.
I’m not trying to say Razorback Baseball shouldn’t have hosted a regional.
I get the outrage. You only put your good stuff on your resume, and the Razorbacks’ good stuff is really impressive. Razorback Baseball finished 3rd place in the SEC. Swept South Carolina in Columbia. Won a series against Mississippi State. Won two of five against LSU, with one of the losses coming in extra innings. They won seven of ten SEC series. Arkansas has the lowest ERA in the nation at 1.87, the only school below 2.00.
The Hogs also play in what’s considered one of the best stadiums in the country, with an official capacity (10,737) over four times greater than their regional host, Kansas State’s (2,331). That’s a lot of ticket dollars left on the table.
Strictly based on accomplishments and assets, I don’t know that there are 16 teams that can make a better case than that. Granted, I haven’t analyzed the resumes of all the hosts, so I can’t say with any certainty which hosting school Arkansas would replace in a just world.
All that being said, let’s not just dismiss the criticism of Arkansas’ non-conference schedule and results.
Razorback Baseball played 25 non-conference games out of 57 total outings. That’s about 44%. That’s a huge chunk of the schedule to disregard as less-meaningful. We all consider the league games most important, but we also frequently hear about how much a waste of time the SEC Tournament is, and about all we’re doing is playing for position to get to Omaha. And for a program like Arkansas, that’s been to Omaha frequently in recent years, that should be the ultimate goal.
And if that’s the ultimate goal, non-conference games count just as much as conference games when you compare teams at the end of the year. There are simply far too many games to ignore in favor of the 30 SEC games.