We have some more on the NCAA baseball regional that begins tomorrow, but probably of more interest is a Rivals.com report about Pac-10 expansion. This story seems to be getting some traction. Read on.
• Up first is a quick look at the four teams in the regional, which starts Friday in Arkansas.
Where: Fayetteville, Ark.
When: Friday through Sunday
What’s next: Winner plays Tempe, Ariz., winner next weekend in Super Regional
Friday’s matchups: Arkansas vs. Grambling, 12:05 p.m. (PDT); Washington State vs. Kansas State, 5:05
• Arkansas Razorbacks
Regional No. 1 seed – 40-17
Coach: Dave Van Horn (901-415, 22 years)
Top hitters: Zach Cox (.432, 8 home runs, 47 RBIs, 11-12 stolen bases), Collin Kuhn (.343, 12, 45, 16-17)
Top pitchers: Drew Smyly (8-1, 2.54 ERA, 88.2 innings pitched, 73 hits, 29 walks, 98 strike outs), TJ Forrest (7-0, 1 save, 2.76, 42.1, 42, 9, 32)
This-and-that: Defeated WSU four times last season, including in regional. … Appeared in 2009 college world series, going 2-2. … 26-8 at home this season. … Lost 10 of final 15 games. … Smyly and two other key pitchers missed the Southeastern Conference tournament with injuries.
• Washington State Cougars
No. 2 seed – 34-20
Coach: Donnie Marbut (180-154, six years)
Top hitters: Matt Fanelli (.316, 5, 40, 6-9), Derek Jones (.300, 11, 40, 9-11)
Top pitchers: Chad Arnold (5-3, 3.47, 98.2, 82, 45, 71), Adam Conley (5-3, 11 saves, 3.13, 60.1, 58, 17, 41)
This-and-that: Making second consecutive NCAA appearance. … Won 12 of last 15 games. … Finished third in Pac-10. … After Arnold, starting rotation is still to be determined. … Took two-of-three games from top-seed Arizona State this season. … Was just 14-15 away from Pullman.
• Kansas State Wildcats
No. 3 seed – 36-20
Coach: Brad Hill (647-257-3, 16 years)
Top hitters: Nick Martini (.416, 3, 53, 19-23), Adam Muenster (.386, 3, 33, 25-31), Carter Jurica (.359, 11, 65, 18-23)
Top pitchers: James Allen (5-0, 8 saves, 2.03, 44.1, 26, 13, 38), Kyle Hunter (9-2, 4.50, 78, 80, 31, 52)
This-and-that: The Wildcats have won 79 games the past two years. … Muenster is the school record holder with 77 stolen bases. … Martini, the Big 12 freshman of the year last season, was the conference’s co-player of the year. … Started season 22-4 but was just 3-7 in last 10 games.
• Grambling Tigers
No. 4 seed – 22-30
Coach: James Cooper (22-30, one year)
Top hitters: Chris Wolfe (.358, 0, 40, 27-35), Jeremy Shelby (.354, 6, 39, 20-23 SB)
Top pitchers: Adrian Turner (5-5, 5.90, 90, 104, 44, 62), Odingo Davila (7-4, 6.00, 69, 76, 45, 50)
This-and-that: After finishing 11-14 in the Southwestern Conference, the Tigers defeated Alcorn State 15-2 to win conference tournament and first NCAA bid since 1985. … Have never won and NCAA game in three trips. … Turner was SWAC tournament MVP. … One of only two teams in tournament with losing record (Bucknell). … On a six-game winning streak.
• One other baseball note: The All-Pac-10 teams were announced with WSU pitcher Chad Arnold the only Cougar earning first-team honors. The WSU honorable mention players: Cody Bartlett, Matt Fanelli, Derek Jones, Garry Kuykendall, Paris Shewey, Shea Vucinich and Michael Weber. I’m trying to find out if Adam Conley was just dropped off or overlooked because he wasn’t included in the release emailed to media members. … UPDATE: Conley’s name was left off for some reason. The website has been fixed and the pitcher is on the first team. After I posted this update, the conference sent out a correction to its release saying Conley was accidentally left off the team. … I did a quick count of the players honored and Arizona State, rightly, had the most with seven first-team selections and eight honorable mention. UCLA, rightly, was second with 12, five and seven. After that though, it gets a little hinkey. Arizona had 10 selections (three and seven) and USC had 10 (one and nine). How in the heck did nine players on the worst team in the Pac-10 deserve honorable mention? WSU (two and seven) now has nine, Oregon (one and seven) and Cal (four and four) were next with eight, with OSU (two and five), Washington (zero and six) and Stanford (one and five) rounding out the honorees. You can double check my work if you like, but the USC number is astounding.
• Now on to the expansion report. The story says the Pac-10 is on the verge of trying to poach six Big 12 members – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado – in an attempt to put together a 16-team conference that would change the college landscape – and mean up to $20 million a year more for each of the affected schools. Whether this is just smoke, or there really is a fire here, is hard to discern. Working in favor of the story is the amount of money being discussed. That might make every college president step up and take notice. Working against the story is some of the schools don’t seem to fit the academic criteria the Pac-10 presidents have outlined in the past. And, in talking to people who should know what’s going on in this regard, I haven’t heard anything that would lead me to believe the presidents or athletic directors have been told anything about an expansion of this magnitude. Which doesn’t mean commissioner Larry Scott won’t just spring it on them tomorrow. No matter what, this report is being discussed all over, with this from Yahoo, the Kansas City Star, the Daily Camera and USA Today. And then there’s this piece from San Jose on the Pac-10 meetings themselves. They start at 1 p.m. tomorrow in San Francisco.
• UPDATE: Here’s the text of Scott’s statement this afternoon: “We are aware of a story filed today by an Orangebloods.com columnist, speculating about possible expansion plans for the Pac-10 Conference. While many interesting scenarios have been suggested in numerous news reports, around the country, we remain focused on a thorough evaluation process that examines all of the options for increasing the value of the conference for our member institutions, our student athletes and our fans. We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term.”
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back if the news warrants it. Until then …