LSU baseball fans have lofty, and frankly, unfair expectations of the Tigers…“Omaha or Bust!”
In today’s landscape of college baseball that’s just not realistic. When Skip Bertman lead the Bayou Bengals to five national titles in the 90’s and in 2000 the game was completely different. Bertman didn’t have to deal with scholarship restrictions. Currently college baseball teams can only hand out 11.7 full ride scholarships. Typically, college baseball teams field 35 players on their roster. You can do the math there.
Also, when Bertman was building his powerhouse program, schools weren’t that interested in competing in baseball. Now, universities like Louisville and others realize there is money to be made in that sport and they’ve devoted resources to improve their baseball programs. Look no further than Coastal Carolina winning it all a few years ago. That would have never happened in the 90’s.
Since Paul Mainieri’s arrival at LSU in 2007, only two college baseball programs have won multiple national championships. Take Michigan for example. The Wolverines are largely considered a football school. Not so fast! They made a College World Series run last season, losing to Vanderbilt in the championship series. Look at all the SEC teams ranked in the top 25. Nine SEC schools are ranked in the top 25. Six are ranked in the top 10. SEC teams/universities typically have more assets to put into their programs than other conferences.
If you want to blame someone for LSU’s shortcomings and not making to Omaha year in and year out, blame Skip Bertman. He’s a legend, but credit Berman with creating the competition and parity in college baseball we see today. Sure, should we expect LSU to compete for an SEC and College World Series Championship? Absolutely! Just not every year. It’s impossible. Since LSU won their national title in 2009, only one program has won back to back national titles (South Carolina).
So as we gear up for LSU baseball, keep this top of mind. The game of college baseball is different than maybe the one you fell in love with back when Skip Bertman’s Tigers were cranking out national championships hand over fist for LSU.