How many days is it until football season begins?
The near-total wipeout of SEC baseball teams that began over the weekend crashed to an end Monday, as four of the five teams with a chance to capture tickets to the super regional round of the NCAA tournament lost. That left only Vanderbilt, which had wrapped up a trip to the second round on Sunday, and Ole Miss. Of a record 10 teams that the conference sent to the regionals, only two remain.
In what could be called The Longest Regional -- it started a day late because of weather, then had the final interrupted by rain on Monday, only to see that game go to 10 innings -- Ole Miss emerged with a 3-2 win against Washington. The Rebels now head to Louisiana-Lafayette, where the Ragin' Cajuns advanced Monday with a 5-3 victory against Mississippi State. The need for martial law in the Magnolia State has been averted.
Another intrastate rivalry struck a blow to the SEC's prestige when Texas knocked off Texas A&M, 4-1. By that point, Houston was already routing LSU in Baton Rouge; the Tigers would end up losing 12-2. And, of course, we've already recounted what happened to Alabama in the Tide's game against Kennesaw State.
SEC baseball had 10 bids, 5 hosts, advance 2. 1st time SC, LSU & Fla all miss super regionals since format began in 1999.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 3, 2014
In some ways, the SEC had such a crushing weekend because it was college baseball writ small this year. There's been a series of national seeds and regional hosts upset across the country this weekend, in part because there are few if any truly elite teams. Louisiana-Lafayette is pretty much a consensus No. 1 in the polls. The Cajuns are a very good team, but they're helped out by the fact that every high-profile team's resume has holes in it.
And that's mirrored in the SEC. Even the best teams in the conference had glaring flaws. Baseball is the sport where consistency can be particularly difficult, but the league's marquee names seemed to make an art form of inconsistency. In the end, the SEC's tournament pool proved to be several very good or even great teams and a few good teams -- plus Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, who will prove just how good they are in the next week or two.
But for every other fan base in the SEC, it's back to preparing for the 2014 football season. If the conference is going to regain some of the luster it's lost in a year that saw the national championship streak snapped, the league's basketball quality sink to new lows and the baseball postseason turn into a disaster, it could choose a worse place to start over.