Where is the NCAA West Coast Love?

TitanCentral.com correspondant Adam Rank clears out his notes from the West Coast Baseball Media Day.

The NCAA has considered legislation to move the football season forward so that teams in the Big Ten don't have to play games in the snow. The NCAA feels that the Big Ten teams are at a disadvantage to other teams that play in warm weather in the autumn months and they want to level the playing field for everybody.

Does that sound farfetched?

It's not when you consider that the NCAA has discussed the possibility to delay the start of the college baseball season to accommodate cold weather cities and once again turn the screws to teams that play on the West Coast.

"They talk about a level playing field and that's a joke to me," UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Brontsema said. "The weather is one of my selling points at Santa Barbara and they want to take that away."

It's only the latest development devised by the NCAA to discredit college baseball on the West Coast. Last year, the NCAA rewarded four West Coast teams with playoff regionals as Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, Arizona State, and Long Beach State all played host in the first round.

But with the NCAA there always is a catch.

All four teams where then paired together in the Super Regionals as the Dirtbags traveled to Palo Alto and the Sun Devils played a three game set at Fullerton. To further add insult to injury the Titans and Cardinals squared off in the same bracket in Omaha. In addition to denying Cal State Fullerton and Stanford to take its heated rivalry to the championship round, the NCAA ensured there would not be an all-California final.

If the NCAA wanted to level the playing field how come Florida State did not play the Super Regional against Miami instead of traveling to Texas?

Or further, the NCAA's quest to get a College World Series team from one of the fly-over states backfired when Southwest Missouri State eliminated both Ohio State and Nebraska.

What could be next for the NCAA, are they going to give Ohio State an extra out each half inning?

Is there any question that Long Beach State, Arizona State, or even UC Riverside could not have advanced in either Ohio State or Nebraska? There shouldn't be.

Part of the problem might be that West Coast teams always have a high number of losses compared to its East Coast counterparts.

"Every time you look at the polls, we have a large number of losses," Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers said. "But that is because of the quality teams that play on the West Coast."

And it's true.

"Anybody who doesn't believe that playing baseball on the West Coast just needs to take a look at our record," Cal State Northridge coach Steve Rousey said. The Matadors finished 14-42 in 2003.

Obviously the Pac 10 and Big West conferences are two of the best in baseball, but most West Coast coaches point to the tough out of conference schedules by teams such as Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton, but don't forget the always-tough mid-week game.

Take Loyola Marymount for example. The Lions will face Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, USC, Fresno State, and UC Riverside on Tuesdays this spring. Will they be rewarded for playing such a tough schedule? Probably not, even though four teams were ranked in Top 40 in Boyd's World Interative Strength Ratings (Fresno State was number 46).

Consider some of the non-conference teams that the University of Miami will play perennial powers Maine and Campbell in mid-week games (and will not play a mid-week game from March 24 to May 19). In addition, the Hurricanes will play series against Ekon and Illinois-Chicago.

What is Miami's excuse, poor weather? And do we even need to mention that Long Beach State will again travel to Miami for a three-game series at the end of the season? How come the Hurricanes won't take a trip to Long Beach or Fullerton?

Although we all know that Miami probably doesn't want to see the Titans any time soon following the club's three-game sweep at Miami in 2002.

It's time for the NCAA to realize that baseball does exist on the West Coast and it will thrive. Miami always will receive the benefit of the doubt because they are one of the BCS schools and the NCAA will continue to allow them to play weak teams during the regular season and roll out the red carpet to Omaha.

It's time for the NCAA to reward the West Coast teams for the tough schedules they play instead of searching for a mythical level playing field. Players want to play on the West Coast and face the best competition on a yearly basis. It seems that the NCAA has no problem with the East Coast dominating all of the resources in football and basketball. But when it comes to baseball, the NCAA always goes out of its way to hurt the West Coast.

And it's not fair. But one coach does have a novel approach.

"If the NCAA wants a level-playing field, then I'm all for it," Brontsema said. "[The NCAA] can build me a new stadium and give me all the resources that all of these BCS schools receive."

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