Illinois Baseball to play at home 2/20-21

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on December 21st, 2009 at 10:29 PM

The Illini scheduled a home series against Bradley on February 20-21 in a mini-protest over the southern baseball powers forcing the season to start a week earlier this season.

IllinoisBaseballReport got in contact with the AD to find out this gem:

In contacting the sports information director of the baseball team, I’ve gotten a little background on the scheduling difference. Apparently, this comes about because the southern schools banded together and convinced the NCAA to add a week to the front of the college baseball schedule. Obviously, there wasn’t a whole lot of support from the northern schools… University of Michigan coach Rich Maloney was a big (and outspoken) opponent.

The average temperatures in Champaign during February is a high of 38 and low of 21. If you follow the link to IBR, they're interested in ideas for promotions as they expect attendance to be dismal in that kind of weather. Drop a comment over there if you've got any clever ideas.

I personally love that they are doing a protest of sorts. A majority of programs exist in the cold, northern states, but the south has been flexing muscles to stay in power with little opposition.

The north finally got a standard start date last season. Before that, teams in the south, particularly southern California would start having games as early as mid January while teams from the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast all started around spring break in late February to early March. The latter group always started on the road in the deep south or the southwest.

The mandatory start date put pressure on the southern powers to schedule more like the northern teams, and they couldn't hack it. They plead academics to get an extra week added to the season, but instead of adding it at the end of the season to keep a fair starting date for northern teams, they choose to add it to the front to force more northern teams to come south.

Obviously this is a load of crap. Luckily, as mentioned by IBR, we have one of the most outspoken coaches on the issue, and I'm sure Coach Maloney will continue to be one of the top voices for the mid-majors.

Michigan will start it's season at Texas Tech this year, and will make trips to North Carolina (UNC and Coastal Carolina, both southern powers). I went over the schedule shortly after its release in September for those interested.


03 Blue 07

December 21st, 2009 at 11:42 PM ^

FA- great, informative post. Quick question, though: You say the mandatory start date made the southern schools schedule like the northern ones- i.e., I am assuming that meant starting at the same time as the northern schools. But what did you mean by "they couldn't hack it"? Did the normalized/fair start date mean the erosion of an advantage that the southern schools had enjoyed in being prepared sooner in the season because they'd played more games early? As in, they reached their potential earlier and therefore could pile up wins on northern schools early in the season because many times the northern schools hadn't played nearly as many games? Or am I totally reading too much into that sentence in your post? Just curious.


December 21st, 2009 at 11:47 PM ^

In order to accomodate the same number of games in the same amount of time, they started to have 5 games a week down the stretch. They were forced into scheduling 2 midweek games and it was just too much pressure on their pitching and academics.

This lead to a couple more upsets like Ohio State over then #2 Miami, or other small programs winning a few midweek games over teams like Texas or Rice. While upsets happened occasionally, it wasn't that often. This year, it was almost a weekly occurrence that a ranked team or several of them would lose in the midweek.

So yeah, there was a bit of a difference, but not overwhelming.

I definitely concede that academics are more important, but I the problem could have been solved in a fair manner by adding the game to the end of the season. Instead, this forces the northern teams to travel or schedule unrealistic games against Bradley in the midst of winter.


December 22nd, 2009 at 12:11 AM ^

Yeah, last year, everyone had to start on the same date. Last year it was the last weekend of February, kicking off with the BigTen/BigEast Challenge. The northern mid-majors took the spot light in the opening weekend. They were supposed to do this, but with the schedule being pushed forward, two or three southern schools have claimed opening weekend marquee events to kick off the year.

But yes, they are subjected to the same scheduling constraints, except the northern schools generally have a good number of games canceled due to rain/snow in the early home slate. The southern schools generally can reserve 35 or so home games (other than their mandatory conference road trips, LSU scheduled 2 games away from home, both within the state of Louisiana) and not worry about rain/snow. Michigan can only schedule 22 home games, and the first 4 against IPFW are likely to be canceled due to weather. That series (recently against either Oakland or IPFW) always tends to have a few games canceled. Those don't get made up (and would just hurt our RPI anyway).

So while the start times and condensed scheduling is the same, northern teams tend to have a few less games total due to weather related issues in March. Southern schools load up on home games in the nicer weather.


December 22nd, 2009 at 9:52 AM ^

As a guy that played ball at a northern college, I'm glad to see the NCAA finally do something about a common start date. This latest stunt the south is pulling is utter bullshit, though. If the NCAA really cared, they'd push the start date back even further, to mid-march, so that more of the season is played when the kids are out of school.


December 22nd, 2009 at 4:11 PM ^

For some schools it's not a revenue loss. LSU averages over 8k per game as they rake in some serious revenue. Several of the power programs tend to profit from baseball, which is saying something for being one of the most expensive sports to have.

That and most of them need games against meh opponents for RPI jockeying down the stretch. Better to play a few meh teams than no one at all.