Etheridge: Committee Chair Ray Tanner In Tough SpotAnalysis
Ray Tanner knows he is going to make people unhappy today.
The Chairman of the Division 1 Baseball Selection Committee, the former CWS champion coach and current Athletic Director at the University of South Carolina is the single voice of Selection Monday.
He oversees a selection process where majority rules and whether he agrees with the decision or not, he then is asked to defend it both to (sometimes bloodthirsty) media members and to fans eager for answers.
It is a difficult job. He can’t be completely transparent. He can’t do what many of us of would do and say, “I actually think this was a terrible choice. I tried to talk them out of it but one of the committee members plays golf with an alumnus and that guy is sure the team is about to break out next week. So we went with the team eight spots from the bubble.”
Tanner doesn’t say that. He tries to find a sensible answer. It may be boring but it’s the job he has been given.
Like for instance, how did Texas Christian University, the one in Fort Worth, get an ‘at large’ bid with a losing conference record and an RPI rank of nearly 60?
No one has ever received an at large bid with metrics this bad. Not in the modern era anyway with adjusted RPI and so many programs trying like hell to see their names on the screen today.
Here’s the last five years’ worth of 50+ RPI at larges:
- 2019 TCU (59) 14-15, 6 out of 9 in Big 12
- 2018 Washington (62) 20-10, third of 11 in Pac 12
- 2017 UCLA (52) 19-11, third of 11 in Pac 12
- 2016 Long Beach State (52) 19-10, second of 9 in Big West
- 2016 Washington (55) 15-8, second of 11 in Pac 12
- 2015 Oregon (62), 17-14, sixth of 11 in Pac 12
- 2015 Clemson (56) 15-12, sixth of 14 in ACC
None of those teams had losing conference records. None “might be good next week”. All either were in areas underserved by the RPI, performed well in their conference, or both.
“They were 4-4 in their conference series, which is not bad,” Tanner said on a media conference call Monday. “They had a big series win against West Virginia recently. They had 12 top 50 wins and they made a pretty deep run in the Big 12 tournament. You can look at them and say, maybe they should be or shouldn’t be in. They were one of the last group, there’s no question. They are also a team that can be difficult to beat if they are clicking on all cylinders and they might be in the best shape they have been in all year.”
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