COLUMN: Is Big 12 baseball worthy of disrespect? The NCAA selection committee thought so

MORGANTOWN — There was a message delivered by the NCAA selection committee to the baseball coaches of the Big 12 Conference.

WVU coach Randy Mazey, who will be retiring once the Mountaineers have been eliminated from the NCAA tournament, heard it loud and clear.

“Actually, I was a little disappointed, to be honest with you,” Mazey said.

That was coming from one of the six Big 12 coaches who did make it into the NCAA tournament.

Imagine the disappointment felt by TCU, once ranked as high as No. 4 in the country, but now sitting at home.

Or Cincinnati, who finished fifth in its first year in the conference, but was left out of the field.

Kansas finished 31-23 and advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. This is not basketball we’re talking about, so the Jayhawks were left behind also.

But we get back to the message which was simply: The Big 12 is good baseball, but clearly lagging behind the big boys.

The big boys in baseball are found in the SEC, which got 11 teams in, and the ACC, which got eight into the field.

The Big 12 was next with six, which did match the league’s all-time high, but that previously came with just nine teams in the conference, not 13 like this year.

It’s one thing to be able to look down on the other 27 baseball conferences in the country, but you’d like to think you’re closing the gap with the ACC and SEC.

The selection committee made it clear Monday that’s not exactly happening.

There’s more evidence to this statement than simply looking at the teams who didn’t get in. The ones who did weren’t exactly handed any favors.

“I thought Oklahoma was definitely worthy of a top eight national seed,” Mazey continued.

Instead, the Sooners, who dominated the Big 12 during the regular season with a 23-7 conference record and then made it to the Big 12 tournament championship game, was the No. 9 national seed.

The third-place team in the SEC East (Georgia), in the committee’s eyes was better than the top dog in the Big 12.

Ouch.

“For them to have to go on the road to win a super regional is a knock against our league, because they literally dominated our league,” Mazey said. “They should have been a national seed.”

Oklahoma State is the only team in the Big 12 right now with at least 40 wins. The Cowboys went 4-1 to win the Big 12 tournament.

OSU is the No. 11 overall seed, meaning the committee saw the third-place team in the ACC Atlantic (Florida State) as a better option than the Big 12 tournament champs.

Double ouch.

WVU, along with Kansas State, UCF and Texas, were also in the field of 64.

“We have no No. 2 seeds,” Mazey said. ”We got a three-seed. Texas got a three-seed. I thought our league was a little bit disrespected.”

Let’s look ahead to July 2, the day after both Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12 for the SEC and Arizona, Colorado, Arizona State and Utah join the Big 12.

Losing two powers in Texas and Oklahoma and gaining one in Arizona is not exactly a fair trade.
Colorado doesn’t even sponsor a baseball team. Utah has been to just five NCAA tournaments in its history.

Arizona State is the wildcard. The Sun Devils have a rich tradition that includes Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds and five national championships, but finished tied for fifth in the Pac-12 this season and ranked No. 87 by the RPI.

There will be 14 baseball schools next season in the Big 12, minus Iowa State and Colorado. A year from now, if this league is still getting just six teams into the NCAA tournament and no top-eight national seeds, it would be a clear sign the Big 12 is deserving of being disrespected in college baseball.