Thoughts on Tar Heels, Golden Eagles, the Pac 10 and even Toby Gerhart and the NFL Draft with Collegebaseball360.com editor Sean Stires.
Two For Home? North Carolina and Southern Mississippi were two of the “Omaha Eight” last year, but more and more they are looking like teams that could be left entirely out of the field of 64 this season. UNC (23-16, 6-12 ACC) enters this weekend’s series at Clemson tied with Duke for last place in the ACC Coastal Division. However,
they’re technically not even tied with the Blue Devils, because Duke took two of three games from the Tar Heels last month. That was the first of four ACC series losses by UNC already this season. As we pointed out in our Notebook earlier this week, the Tar Heels lost just six ACC series over the last four seasons combined. They entered the week with a solid 36 in the NCAA RPI, but have lost seven of their last nine games while continuing to drop in every national poll. In addition to Clemson, North Carolina’s remaining conference series are Wake Forest, at Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, Southern Mississippi (18-17, 2-7 CUSA) is completely reeling. With an NCAA RPI of 102, last year’s CWS darlings have lost three straight and seven of their last nine games. Mid-week losses to LSU and Ole Miss are one thing, but USM has lost its last three Conference USA series to UAB, Central Florida and Marshall to plummet to dead last in the conference standings.
The Pac Is Back: After a down year in 2009 the Pac 10 is looking very good. Arizona State and UCLA grabbed most of the early season headlines with their long winning streaks to start the season, but the league is deep. Seven teams, #1 Arizona State, #6 UCLA, #16 Arizona, #18 California, #20 Oregon, #24 Oregon State, and #29 Stanford, are ranked among the CB 360 Composite National Rankings top 30. Each of those teams is
also in the NCAA RPI top 30. At least six of those teams should receive an NCAA bid this season, making it even tougher for a team like North Carolina to find a bid of its own.
Go Gerhart: As I write this the start of the 2010 NFL Draft is just hours away. It’s hard to believe, but former Stanford two-sport star Toby Gerhart isn’t expected to be taken until the end of the second round…at the earliest. This is a guy who set Pac 10 records and led the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns and 1,871 rushing yards in 2009. He also played in 105 college baseball games, while helping the Cardinal to the 2008 College World Series. He had good 40 times at the NFL Combine, but he’ll slip in the draft because the last white running back to have any real NFL success was John Riggins. At least one scout has said “If Toby Gerhart was black, he would be drafted in the first round.” I’m no scout, but was Gerhart too slow when he ran over and around USC’s Taylor Mays when he ran for 178 yards, while running for 3 TDs and catching another in Stanford’s 55-21 win at USC? Mays is expected to be a first round pick. Pete Carroll wanted Gerhart to be a fullback when he recruited him, but he ran over Carroll’s linebackers instead. Gerhart proved Carroll and a lot of other doubters wrong in college, and let’s hope he does the same again in the NFL.