Column By Glenn Guilbeau / GANNETT LOUISIANA
BATON ROUGE – Home for summer.
School’s out. And as far as LSU and Louisiana are concerned, so are the other 56 teams in the NCAA baseball playoffs.
For the first time, No. 8 national seed LSU (44-14-1) and No. 6 national seed ULL (53-7) each received a coveted top eight seed that allows each to host the two-team, best-of-three Super Regional round of the postseason on June 6-9 should each advance out of the four-team NCAA Regional round this weekend that features 64 teams in 16 towns.
For both the Tigers and the Cajuns, if they keep winning, they will not play away from home this season until mid-June at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. And if LSU and ULL do meet again this season, it will be in a best-of-three series for the national championship on June 23-25. Can you imagine that?
It could happen, as they kept saying in “Angels in the Outfield” movie 20 years ago this summer.
It could happen because Louisiana had “Angels on the Selection Committee,” who thankfully decided to “Keep ‘Em Separated,” the oft-repeated hook of The Offspring’s smash hit “Come Out and Play” – also in the summer of 1994.
Thank you, NCAA. Haven’t been this pleased with you since the ruling on Penn State. LSU and ULL can come out and play with John Fogerty blaring on the P.A. without all the baggage between the two schools, most of which is ridiculous.
Keeping LSU and Louisiana separated in the NCAA Regional and Super Regional rounds was the fair and right decision. Each deserved a top eight seed based on their overall seasons and rankings. Each deserved a Super Regional free of the other and void of the additional emotional burden involved with playing an in-state rival with so much on the line. It would have been a great spectacle because sometimes the best thing about sport is the emotion, but let’s do that another time. Let Auburn and Alabama have their Crusades. We have enough political footballs in politics in these parts.
LSU already had to play a Super Regional just outside New Orleans against Tulane in 2001 anyway, and ULL deserved better than having to host its richer big brother. Not to mention the fact that they would have had to add about 5,000 temporary seats to Tigue Moore Field.
This is much more fun. The state of Louisiana wins by possibly getting to host four national tournaments in two weekends. But both schools have much to do to keep their home schedule alive.
The Tigers must get by a good Southeastern Louisiana team (37-23, No. 73 in ratings percentage index) at 2 p.m. Friday as well as Houston (44-15, 10 RPI) and/or Bryant (42-14, 45 RPI), a school from Smithfield, R.I. that only recently made the move to Division I. Should LSU advance, it will host the winner of a challenging NCAA Regional in Houston, where Rice (41-18, 7 RPI) will play George Mason (34-20, 119 RPI) and Texas (38-18, 12 RPI) will play bubble entry Texas A&M (33-24, 42 RPI).
The Cajuns may have a tougher trail to Omaha than LSU after their first round game against Jackson State (31-23, 269 RPI) as Mississippi State (37-22, 30 RPI) will be in Lafayette and playing San Diego State (42-19, 36 RPI). Should ULL advance, it gets the winner of the NCAA Regional at Ole Miss, which looks like one of the more difficult foursomes with the Rebels (41-18, 13 RPI) playing Jacksonville State (36-26, 92 RPI), and Washington (39-15-1, 24 RP) playing Georgia Tech (36-25, 32 RPI).
State would like nothing better than to get out of Lafayette and make sure for one more year that Ole Miss does not make it to Omaha. But ULL coach Tony Robichaux knows the SEC. He won two of three at South Carolina in 2000 to reach the College World Series. His team is 3-1 against the SEC so far this season with a 4-1 win at LSU in six innings and two wins in three games against Alabama in Lafayette.
The state of Louisiana is the winner for now as no other state but Florida has two top eight seeds.
“I know it’s a big rivalry for a lot of the fans,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said of ULL getting a top eight seed. “But I’m really happy for them. I think it’s great for the state of Louisiana. Louisiana baseball is alive and well.”
See you in Omaha again?
In the summer of 2000, LSU and ULL also could not have met until the national championship game. The two teams stayed in the same hotel. There were no incidents.
Mainieri has some advice should South Louisiana take over eastern Nebraska again in the summer of 2014.
“The last person in Louisiana will need to turn off the lights,” he said, “because everybody will be in Omaha.”
Preferably, it will not be a Motel 6, but leave the light on for us, Mr. Bodett.