For as little as I know about college baseball, this sounds like a really bad decision, starting a week earlier that is. We're getting totally screwed.
Baseball Rules Override Vote Scheduled
Good news came out of Indianapolis today as the NCAA will host two votes during their business sessions next week. Both votes are proposed overrides of votes that did not pass during their previous voting in August. The first is non-consequential for Michigan, but a collection of schools is still trying to get sand volleyball instated as a NCAA recognized sport.
The second override is a bigger issue and one that the University of Michigan is directly lobbying for, a change in the baseball schedule. Last year was the first attempt at the NCAA to have a universal starting date across all teams. The season was compacted to 13 weeks, with each team unable to play games until the last weekend of February. This was meant to give a fairer balance between southern and western schools who would start hosting games as early as January and northern schools who couldn't afford several road trips and couldn't host games (and still can't host games for the most part) until mid March.
The 13 week schedule did provide a bit more balance between teams, leading to a few more upsets from northern schools, but many of these were for the wrong reason. Packing 56 games into a 13 week period isn't easy. Teams, including baseball rich southern programs, had trouble finding enough pitching on their rosters to handle the rigorous schedule. With only 11.7 scholarships available, it's hard to get a pitching staff of more than 7-8 quality pitchers.
On top of this, baseball players were also missing quite a bit more class. The compacted schedule lead to many more midweek games. This involved more travel during the class week, and a strain on students' academics.
To fix these problems, the NCAA voted to add a 14th week to the season. There was a debate over where to add the week from the beginning. Southern power schools wanted the games added to the beginning of the season in February. Northern schools wanted the week added to the end of the season when academics wouldn't be affected, and so that they could play more home games and save on travel costs (both academic and financial).
In the end, the southern powers won. This season will start a week earlier, pushing the what-was season opening Big East-Big Ten Challenge into week two and leaving many northern schools scrambling to schedule trips to the south in February. Most schools that is.
The January 15th vote will need a 5/8th majority in order to override the rule. From the NCAA:
The Championships/Sport Management Cabinet opposed the legislation because it detracted from the competitive equity between northern and southern institutions.
The institutions that requested the override are all located in the North, including all 11 institutions in the Big Ten Conference. The institutions cited concerns about having to travel South to begin their seasons and incurring increased expenses for the programs and additional missed class time for student-athletes.
Many of the institutions calling for the override indicated they would an additional week at the end of the season, when spring classes are complete for many student-athletes.
The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is split on the issue. Some members agree that the weather could put Northern schools at a disadvantage, but others believe that spreading the same number of contests over a shorter time (13 weeks) would likely mean more midweek contests and more missed class time. Others noted that a longer season, potentially including more travel, could take a physical toll on student-athletes. The SAAC will revisit the issue at its meeting next week before the override vote.
I find it weird that the SAAC is talking as if it a week at the front of the season or no week added at all. The statement about adding a week adding a physical toll on students also seems like a loaded statement. The southern schools have long had seasons over 14 weeks long and is it better to have students traveling more in a shorter period and missing classes than it is adding one extra weekend? I can't see that argument standing up so well.
I agree, although all I know about college baseball is that Barry Bonds used to have a head smaller than my chest.
i think this would be very very popular.
Sounds like the NCAA is trying to force northern teams to either build indoor stadiums or rent them. What are the implications of playing games at Toronto which is 4 hours away and in another country?
One of the last major indoor stadiums is no longer hosting college baseball. Minnesota, as well as a good number of teams in the Dakotas and Wisconsin used the Metrodome for home games every year. There are some years where baseball was played from 7am to 2am in the Metrodome just because 8-9 games had to be scheduled there just so teams could play without having to travel too far.
The DairyQueen classic tournament (hosted by U of Minnesota) generally hosted several of the area schools and a couple other long distance teams like Hawaii or a Pacific Northwest school (geographically isolated schools that might have decent weather anyway).
Other than the fact you have to cross the border and pay money to play at the Rogers Centre, I'm not sure the overall complications of hosting games there. I would think that if it were financially viable, someone would have tried it already. Maybe I should pitch it to a bunch of western New York teams and see if I can't get a profit out of it.
This is not true that the Metrodome "is no longer hosting college baseball."
The Minnesota Gophers will play all 28 of their home games at the Metrodome this year, mostly because Siebert Field is falling apart. The last I heard, Minnesota will play all of its games in the Metrodome until it is torn down, and then move to Target Field unless somebody gives the University money for an on-campus stadium.
I'm trying to find the article that I saw about the upcoming end to games there. I thought I read something that this was the last season there. Based on the leasing agreement with the Vikings, it might have been two more years (the lease ends in 2011). If I find something, I'll drop a link. But as of now, I guess I was mistaken.
but if I remember correctly, the main reason for the move was to improve chances of landing a bid for NCAA regionals. Their old stadium (even with added seating) was considered too small anymore.
The Metrodome was also part of an NCAA basketball bid package for a regional site in one of the next 4 upcoming years, but didn't win a bid.
One week, whichever end of the season you want, makes ZERO difference when it comes to a school's performance, based on "game scheduling" alone.
Agreed that it does provide for 1-3 missed "opportunities" to schedule an extra home series (or 1 midweek, and a weekender), but those 3 games would seldom be crucial to a team's hopes of making the post-season.
The real issue here, between North/South has always been the ability to hold "formal" practice much earlier, due the more agreeable weather in the South/West. This is the reason the Northern teams have pushed for such a "uniform start date".
If you think it'll make a difference, you're nuts. The weather down here allows guys to get out and "voluntarily" practice much earlier. Start dates also don't account for 4-on-1's and permissable "skills" practices which can be held long before then.
The only thing this legislation has done is compact the season, and cause the issues mentioned above. Unless the NCAA wants to fix that by capping # of games, the "early advantage" isn't going away; baseball bats are already "pinging" away down here.
I think the travel issue alone is important enough. By adding the week at the end of the season, that's one less week that Northern schools MUST travel south. When it comes to expenses, it's definitely more expensive for a team to travel to Florida for a week than it is to bus to South Bend or another Midwestern college town for the weekend. It's less stressful on academics and cheaper. That's the issue most schools are taking with it.
So while not being able to do too many live drills is a little bit of a problem, most schools, including our own, are doing a better job of getting things started.
From Timmy Kal last year:
Now the astute reader might ask, "Hey Timmy, how could you practice outside Even if it was warm and the snow melted, isn't the ground still soaked" Brother, in most cases, you would be right. However, as Coach Maloney would say, "This is Michigan, man. We have people and resources here."
Thanks to coach Rich Rodriguez and his renovations of the football facilities, we now have state-of-the-art field turf outside. For those of you that don't know, it's similar to the fringe at Pebble Beach (or so I am told)...
And from Chris Fetter:
At Michigan, we have the luxury of having one of the best indoor football facilities in the country to practice on. We can simulate every play we will see when we compete. With the new uniform start date for all of Division I baseball implemented this season, we get to start playing at the same time as the southern and western schools, which has been great for us. My first few years here, we would be starting our first weekend against teams that were competing in their 10th and sometimes 20th games. Needless to say, at that time we were far behind.
So while it is a little different practicing, it's more the game day situation, as well as the previously mentioned academics and travel financing.
I just re-read it, and it was the wrong tone. Down here, this gets debated with such passion... Forgive me.
Here's my opinion of the "Southern" view: the condesing of the season was seen largely as an attempt to remove a Southern "home field advantage" issue, not prevent travel costs (a side benefit).
1) No one buys into the change having caused any improvement for the North in pre-season activity (whether, as you correctly point out, big schools like UM have great indoor facilities and can overcome it anyway; or you believe the South still has an advantage b/c they get away with more "voluntary" workouts in pleasant weather conditions).
2) Before the condesing occurred, teams down here could spread out their season. A) Being the only ones capable of hosting earlier tournaments provided them "extra" home games. B) With a longer season, they could "wait" for more teams to come to them for weekend series, again, more home games.
3) They'd argue that there has been no "net savings" in travel costs across D-I, as ALL teams, both North and South, have had to increase mid-week game travel to keep up their # of games played.
In adding a week back, the goal was to ease up on the (at the time unforseen - except by the Southern schools - was a key arguing point against) effect on the STUDENT-athelete by disrupting increased missed classes due to the resulting mid-week travel. It is not yet another attempt to save $$.
If the NCAA wants to even out the real issue, the home field advantage, they should focus on limiting how many early season "tournaments" a school can host. It would mean more southern schools having to go on the road to get their games in. If everyone's having to travel, it's as even as possible.
Whatever happens, they need to re-expand the season. As pointed out in your OP, it's had too much downside to it.