Four ACC and SEC schools were selected as regional hosts for the 2005 NCAA Division I tournament, but the Pac-10's two host sites are certainly the most interesting.
Pac-10 champion Oregon State will serve as a host for the first time in school history as it makes its first trip to the regionals since 1986.
"This is great news for everyone involved with Oregon State baseball," coach Pat Casey said, "for our team, our staff, and especially our fans because they're going to be able to watch us play in the postseason. They've given us a tremendous home-field advantage this season, and the level of support they've given us is a big reason that we'll be able to play at home next weekend."
Arizona State, which did not bid in 2004, will serve as a host this year. The Sun Devils began their final conference game of the year Sunday afternoon tied for third place with Southern California, though ASU won the season series against the Trojans. Second-place Arizona likely would have earned this host slot, but it withdrew its bid last week because of poor local interest.
"I think we're very fortunate," Arizona State coach Pat Murphy said. "Even though [Arizona's projected] RPI is behind ours, they beat us head-to-head and were deserving hosts."
Arizona State earned a No. 7 national seed with a 40-16 record heading into the 2004 tournament, but did not bid to host a regional because of renovations to Packard Stadium. So Arizona State played as the No. 1 seed with second-seeded Cal State Fullerton as the host.
Arizona State was eliminated in three games, while Fullerton went on to win the College World Series. Now Arizona State, a likely No. 2 seed, looks to mimic Fullerton's run from last year.
"I think it's an advantage to play at home, sure," Murphy said. "Probably a little tidbit of it is that we were sent to Fullerton last year as a national seed, so maybe this is making up for it."
"It makes a lot of sense from that perspective," said Charlie Carr, NCAA Division I baseball committee chairman. "[But] I have to be honest and say we try not to reflect years past and [instead] base it on what has happened this year."
Rice and College of Charleston each made strong cases to serve as hosts but were denied. Carr said the committee received more than 40 bids to host, and it had to "split hairs" among several competitive bids. Rewarding a team's success during the course of the season serves as the most important criterion, Carr said, with geographic distribution, facilities and financial bids also working into the equation.
Rice (40-17) won the WAC title and has served as a host for the last four years. Its net receipts during that time averaged more than $100,000. Arizona State played host to regionals in 2000, '02 and '03 and averaged about $52,000 in net receipts.
"At one time, we just lined up the numbers and went right down the list from highest to lowest," Carr said. "We don't do that anymore. Now that's one of the latter factors and would come into play only when schools are very even otherwise."
Also, it might not have gone over well if the Pac-10 received only one host site while the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Big West each received two or more.
College of Charleston (47-13) won the Southern Conference and compiled an RPI in the top 15 according to Internet models, but lost in its conference tournament. It bid a reported $124,000 to serve as a host at Joe Riley Ballpark in Charleston, S.C., but its chances might have been derailed because the conference tournament was played at Riley Park.
Mike Gaski, who coached UNC Greensboro in the SoCon tournament and also serves as a member of the NCAA committee, said the field was the worst his team had played on all year. "We felt like for that reason we needed to look otherwise," Carr said.
The television and online host announcements listed the teams in alphabetical order. That caused some nervousness at Long Beach State, where the thinking was that there would be three West Coast host sites, with the final one joining Cal State Fullerton and Oregon State. Arizona State was the first name offered, and the Dirtbags found great relief when their name came up later.
Carr read off the names in a different order during the NCAA's regional site selections conference call, beginning with Tulane. The Green Wave happen to hold the nation's top RPI, according to several Internet models. The next seven teams — Texas, Mississippi, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Cal State Fullerton and Florida — follow those same RPI models very closely. The remaining eight teams also fall in line in similar fashion.
Carl Dubois of the Baton Rouge Advocate postulated that Carr might have been reading the host sites off a list, possibly in the order of the eight national seeds.
It's possible that Carr's list simply was a working order. The committee wouldn't be so naïve as to give away the eight national seeds a day early, could it? It has to know coaches, journalists and fans have great access to RPI models online.
Regional host notes
• Miami lost its last six games — its longest losing streak since 1966 — but still earned a host spot with a 38-17 overall record and third-place finish in the ACC.
"They fell on some hard times there at the end, but our perspective was to look at the entire year," Carr said.
"I think everyone was confident that we would host the regional," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "The next step is the toughest. Now, we have to win."
• Florida State serves as a host for the 24th time, while Miami and Texas will play regionals at home for the 21st time. "The biggest advantages in getting to host is our familiarity with the field and the great Seminole baseball fans," coach Mike Martin said. "Just being able to stay at home after being on the road for the better part of the last two weeks is certainly an important factor."
• Long Beach State, Mississippi and Tulane will play host to the tournament for the second time.
• Seven schools selected this year also served as hosts last year (Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Mississippi and Texas), while Long Beach State played host to a super regional last year after opening the tournament on the road.
• Regionals will take place at these campus sites from June 3-6. The rest of the field and the eight national seeds will be announced Monday on ESPN (11:30 a.m. ET).
Baseball America has the college baseball scene covered. From the Top 25 to features, columns and analysis, Baseball America has the latest news from the diamond. Click here for more coverage.