Here at Baseball America, we’ve made it pretty clear how we feel about the Division I baseball committee’s egregious decision to send Oklahoma to a regional over College of Charleston, Oregon State and Missouri State. The blame for that falls on the entire committee, not just chairman Larry Templeton, so we’re not going to pile on Templeton for getting his facts wrong in a conference call when asked to explain CofC’s omission. We just want to correct him to clear up some confusion.
When asked to explain College of Charleston’s omission, Templeton said: "I don’t want to pick on College of Charleston, but as we reviewed them, they’ve got to improve the strength of their schedule. They only had three wins against the top 75 RPI teams in the country."
Actually, CofC went 10-9 against teams that ranked in the top 75 of the final official RPI report of the regular season, through Sunday’s games. Cougars coach John Pawlowski was understandably steamed about the discrepancy.
"Does the chairman have his facts straight, or can he just lie to the media and get away with it?" Pawlowski wrote in an e-mail about the factual blunder. "Maybe he meant St. John’s only had three wins against the top 75–that information would be closer to the truth. I hope that our sport is becoming popular enough so that people care that the committee chairman is defending himself with inaccurate information. I know that the NCAA basketball committee would not be able to get away with that statement if it were not true."
And Pawlowski’s point about St. John’s is valid: the Red Storm went 4-2 against the top 75 but still earned a regional bid as a No. 3 seed. But NCAA assistant director of statistics J.D. Hamilton explained that Templeton simply looked at the wrong column: He meant to say that Charleston only had three wins against the top 50 teams in the RPI (two against Elon, one against Coastal Carolina).
Hey, Templeton’s got a tough job defending the choices of the committee in a conference call with often-hostile media members, and there was certainly no malicious intent behind his error–he simply misspoke. It happens to the best of us, because thinking on your feet under pressure is challenging.
The shame of it is the committee mostly did a very solid job this year. In my opinion, it placed 63 out of the right 64 teams into regionals (indeed, my final regional projection on Sunday night contained 63 out of the 64 teams that actually got in, with Oklahoma over CofC the lone exception; and if the committee had gone with Oregon State or Missouri State instead of Charleston or Oklahoma, I wouldn’t have had any qualms, because that would have been defensible). But unfortunately for Templeton, his impossible job on that conference call was to defend the indefensible decision to go with the Sooners over the other worthy at-large candidates, and there was no way he could emerge from that discussion looking good. His misstatement merely exacerbated the frustrations of the spurned Cougars.
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