Top 25 Chat

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to another Top 25 chat. This weekend, on consecutive days, I was at games where the starting pitchers used Lil’ Wayne’s “Let the Beat Build” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as their warm-up music. I just wanted to share that juxtaposition with you all. Now, let’s get to your questions.

Brian (Orlando): What about A&M's resume is more attractive than UF's? Just because a team loses shouldn't mean they drop in the polls. I get that they play this weekend and it doesn't matter, but UF has one of the best series wins in the country over Miami, and A&M has an awful schedule so far.
Teddy Cahill: No better place to start than the top, where Texas A&M and Florida trade spots in the top rankings this week. Florida does have probably the second-best series win in the country (at Miami), and Texas A&M’s best series win is home to LSU. While that’s good, it obviously isn’t as good. But I think you’re underselling the Aggies schedule a bit. has it ranked No. 132, which is quite a bit worse than Florida’s No. 8, but I don’t think it’s been awful. Fresno State is a good team, Texas A&M went out to California to play at Pepperdine and opened SEC play with a series win at Auburn. And, most importantly, Texas A&M has six winning weekends. But, yes, this weekend’s showdown in Gainesville should sort this all out.

Dylan Johnson (Starkville): Mississippi state has won their first 2 SEC series compared to only one last year. If they keep winning SEC series against good teams, Where do you see them finishing at years end in the polls if they win 7/10 or 8/10 series's
Teddy Cahill: I assume you mean the last rankings of the regular season and not the final rankings of the season, which are obviously heavily influenced by what happens in the NCAA Tournament. If Mississippi State (or any SEC team) won seven or eight conference series, I would imagine it would be somewhere in the top 5. But I’m not sure. These things don’t happen in a vacuum and it obviously matters which SEC series it wins. Most importantly, winning that many SEC series would set the Bulldogs up well for the NCAA Tournament.

Jordan (Hattiesburg, Ms): Where is Southern Miss at in your mind? What else do they need to do to crack the top 25? Where do you see them ending up by the end of the year?
Teddy Cahill: Southern Miss has been among the teams we’ve considered the last few weeks. We talked about this a bit on the podcast today (which should be out soon). Conference USA is looking stout this year, with Florida Atlantic, Rice and Southern Miss among the teams playing really well right now. One thing playing against Southern Miss in terms of getting ranked is that it doesn’t have a marquee series win to really hang its hat on. The Eagles have a lot of solid wins and good-looking 19-6 record. The 3-0 weekend in Pensacola was solid, but not spectacular with Troy and Auburn scuffling a little bit. If Southern Miss keeps winning, it’ll get in there, but it’s just a little hard to separate it from, say South Alabama and Tulane, two teams also in the mix just outside the rankings and which it lost midweek games to.

Matthew (Charlotte): Why the big jump for South Carolina? It seems some weekends it's hard for teams to make any movement given the preseason weight in ranking... and other weekends where someone gets a little loose on their sugar intake and play hopscotch with a team's ranking.
Teddy Cahill: Well, specific to this week, South Carolina swept a top-10 team on the road. A top-10 team that had beaten Louisville when the Cardinals came to town. So that will get your attention. And then there was going to be some natural shakeup in the top 10 with five teams losing their weekend series. But we’re also now almost to the halfway point in the season, and we’re getting to a time where preseason evaluations are holding less sway on the rankings. So, all those things contributed to the Gamecocks big jump.

TJ (Maryland): UVA's pitching is a mess. There's Connor Jones and then the rest. Of course, this was to be somewhat expected, and with injuries to two key guys (Casey/Sperling), struggles don't surprise, although I had hopes that O'Connor and Kuhn could get them going early. The bigger concern is the lack of veterans stepping up. Few questions: a) Is there enough talent? b) Should Haseley be in the weekend rotation, moving Lynch to a more comfortable weekday role? c) Should the idea of moving Tommy Doyle to the pen be considered?
Teddy Cahill: To answer your first question, I have been a believer in Virginia’s talent all year. I’m not getting off that train now. I think the pieces are there and I trust O’Connor and Kuhn to have them going in May. Part of that, I think is going to be putting Haseley in the rotation. I know it’s something Virginia has been considering. I don’t know whether Doyle would move to the bullpen or not or whether that would settle things back there, but Virginia needs someone to step up, especially with Robbie Coman on the shelf. tl;dr – I remain confident that O’Connor and Kuhn have the talent at their disposal to get that pitching staff where it needs to be.

Eric (Dallas, TX): Newbie question here - when will Seth Beer become draft eligible?
Teddy Cahill: Seth Beer will not be eligible until 2018. So Clemson fans have 2.5 more seasons to watch him hit.

Ty (Lubbock, TX): Where is Texas Tech in your pecking order? They've had an impressive start in the Big 12 and have several marquee wins, including 3 against Top 10 teams.
Teddy Cahill: The Big 12 has been kind of shaky to start the season, but Texas Tech has been playing pretty well and seems to have asserted itself, along with Texas, as teams that can contend with TCU and Oklahoma State. In terms of rankings, Texas Tech was very close coming off the Shriners College Classic, but then lost the series to Fullerton the following weekend. The Red Raiders have put themselves back on the radar the last couple weeks. I’m very interested to see how they play at Oklahoma State in two weeks.

Doug (Wichita): Wichita State finds itself in another disastrous season. What will it take for them to be a perennial top 25 program again? Facilities upgrades? New coaching staff? Who are the top up an coming coaches in the college ranks?
Teddy Cahill: At 7-16, Wichita State has been one of the more disappointing teams this season. Its in a brutal stretch of schedule here too, four straight series against Fullerton, Nebraska, Cal Poly and TCU before MVC play starts. Things should improve once they get into league play, but you would like to see the Shockers winning a few more of these nonconference games. I’m not sure what the answer is. Todd Butler and his staff are solid, and this is just their third year with the program. I feel pretty good about their chances to get things turned around for Wichita State.

Bill (Atlanta): What are your thoughts on GT after the UNC series win? I see elimination of the errors as a big factor since the FSU debacle.
Teddy Cahill: I was at two of the games this weekend (both Georgia Tech wins). I liked the Yellow Jackets coming into the season, and they looked like a solid team this weekend. Brandon Gold was good on Thursday night and Zac Ryan gave them a good start Sunday. Jonathan Hughes, their typical No. 3, didn’t pitch because it was a Thursday-Saturday series, and he’s been really good for them too. If Georgia Tech can keep pitching like that, it’s a dangerous team. The Yellow Jackets are solid defensively, and with Connor Justus, Matt Gonzalez and Kel Johnson at the core of the offense, they can score runs. They should get back to regionals after missing last year, and the pieces are there for them to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

ABL (Washington): Surprised that losing two out of 3 on the road to Arizona knocks UCLA from #14 out of the rankings. Especially since game 3 was such a close game. WHy such a big drop?


Maddog (Ashburn, VA): Okay Teddie: Please to explain the precipitous drop of Clemson out of the Top 25 and Miami ascending to #3. Granted a sweep is a sweep - but two of the three were walk offs. Where's the love for my Tigers brother?
Teddy Cahill: Answering both the UCLA and Clemson question here because they are related. I did not go into our rankings meeting expecting to drop either UCLA or Clemson. But, ultimately, we decided we like Georgia Tech, Kentucky and FAU more. UCLA and Clemson got squeezed out in the process. I think UCLA’s overall record finally caught up to it. Clemson was much tougher. But, when it came down to it, we felt better about those other teams and their resumes. It would not surprise me in the least if we saw both UCLA and Clemson return to the rankings soon.

Nate (Tallahassee): FSU's bullpen has been great so far this year (1.85 ERA, 145K's in 112IP). But the problem is that they've pitched nearly 53% of the total innings so far this season. FSU's starters just haven't been very reliable to reach beyond the 4th inning. At what point do you think Coach Martin and Bell should consider shaking up the weekend starters? Or do you think FSU will be okay in the long run if the bullpen continues to throw 5 innings per game?
Teddy Cahill: I don’t know how much choice Florida State has with its rotation right now. Andrew Karp and Cobi Johnson have not taken a step forward this spring. Tyler Holton could go to the weekend, but he hasn’t gone deep in his midweek starts. Ed Voyles has been good, but he’s never been asked to be that kind of pitcher. I think for Florida State to reach its ceiling, it needs Mike Compton, Drew Carlton and Cole Sands to hold down the rotation. In the long run, I believe those guys can be good enough for the Seminoles, particularly the way the offense is scoring runs for them.

Ben (Miamisburg, OH): What's up with JJ Schwartz? He seems to have taken a step back offensively this year, and that has to be a concern for the middle of Florida's lineup.
Teddy Cahill: I know Schwarz set the NCAA Tournament on fire last year, but if you look at his regular-season numbers (and especially his SEC numbers), I think you’ll find his .307/.457/.511 line is pretty solid. He’s also walked 23 times this year, which is an indication of his discipline and that opponents are making sure Schwarz isn’t the one to beat them. Schwarz, and the Gators, will be fine.

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for the chat this week. Thanks for all your questions. And if I didn’t get to yours, feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll come back and answer it there.

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