by Jim Buzzerd
New college baseball model
College baseball is pondering a new model that will delay the start of the season until mid-March, but before getting to that there is news from the Big 12 Conference office that gets top billing. The league announced last Friday that member schools will be allowed to let football players return to their respective campuses on June 15. That is good news for those who are wondering if there will be college football this season. Of course state and local health agencies will have to approve this date for member schools, and there are a myriad of other unknowns that could play the spoiler, but it is clear the Big 12 is planning to play football this fall.
Then I saw an article detailing a plan for the 2022 college baseball season that would allow the season to begin March 18 and run through June when the conference tournaments would begin on June 22. Regionals, super regionals and the College World Series would follow with the National Championship Series from July 23 to 25.
This model effectively moves the season back a month, which would obviously help the schools from cooler climates with weather issues, but the later dates could benefit schools from warmer climates as well. Northern teams typically spend the first month of the season traveling to play schools in the south. A later start to the season would allow many schools to play early season games at home, thus cutting well into travel expenses.
Regardless of climate collegiate baseball currently competes with basketball for attendance for the first several weeks of the season. The later start will put baseball on its own stage longer and undoubtedly draw more fans and increase revenue.
This article popped up because it mentions West Virginia University head coach Randy Mazey a few times. The article points out that Mazey has been vocal about his aggressive scheduling approach over the past few seasons. Mazey’s proposal, though it made some good points, was met with significant resistance from the coaching community and went by the wayside the past few seasons. Now, some of the ideas from his proposal are being used in this ‘New Baseball Model’ that is now gaining traction on the national stage.
“Since I’ve been involved in college baseball for the last 35 years, scholarships have been cut from 13 to 11.7, games have been cut down to 56, rosters have been limited and proposals to get more coaches have been denied,” Mazey said. “It’s all due to so many programs operating at a huge financial deficit. If this new scheduling model were to pass, I believe it would be the most influential step toward progressing our sport that we have ever seen. I also really believe that in due time college baseball could become a revenue sport and we could eventually get the extra coaches and scholarships that our sport desperately needs and deserves. I’m thankful for all the coaches out there trying to push this and improve college baseball.”
I could see how playing a June schedule could be a big money maker for college baseball.