Stop blaming Templeton for regional trip and concentrate on Missouri

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008

The conspiracy theorists from the northwest part of Mississippi are in a tizzy.

How could Ole Miss’ baseball team get shipped to South Florida against the national No. 1 seed?

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Ask the theorists and one answer is sure to surface: Departing Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton, the chair of the NCAA baseball selection committee and one of 10 votes, did it. He arranged it in 2005 so eventual national champion Texas had to play Ole Miss in a Super Regional, and again in 2006 when Miami had to play a Super Regional at Ole Miss. Then last year, the Rebels were shipped to Arizona State for a Super Regional. Even worse, Mississippi State’s baseball team reached Omaha last season after not even making it to the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Of course, the Bulldogs had to beat national seed Florida State and a quality Clemson club to do it.

To the theorists, matching the Rebels with the No. 1 team when tournament play starts Friday is the last act of the soon-to-be-former MSU athletic boss. One last stick in the eye of one rival to the next.


This is an Ole Miss team that needed last-inning heroics even to reach the SEC Tournament. The Rebels rallied to beat Kentucky on the last day of the regular season, then beat Georgia and rallied past Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. The Rebels needed two chances to beat Vanderbilt to reach the championship round at Hoover. The Rebels lost to LSU in the championship game, but were far from a lock even to make the title game. In SEC Tournament history, no No. 8 seed has ever won the tournament title.

The Rebels went 4-5 in SEC series throughout the year and were not the dominant force many, including me, had hoped. Now, getting out of Florida and into a Super Regional will be difficult at best. The host Hurricanes are as statistically dominant as any team. Missouri and Bethune-Cookman can play against anyone. If Miami is the top seed in the country and the favorite to win the College World Series, someone will have to beat them.

Maybe it will be the Rebels.

After Vicksburg High defeated Warren Central in 2005, a question was posed to VHS coach Alonzo Stevens: “How do you feel that your reward for beating Warren Central is a trip to South Panola?”

Stevens calmly said, “If you can find a way to win a state championship without beating South Panola, I want to know how. You’re going to have to play them sooner or later, so why not sooner?”

Of course South Panola made Vicksburg a foot note in the Tigers’ winning streak, now up to 75 games. The fact is, to get to the mountaintop, tough obstacles are in the way.

Having not been in the NCAA selection room, I have to believe it comical for Templeton to sit at the head of the table scratching his chin with a wicked grin on his face as he finds every way possible to turn the screws on the Rebels.

If anything, Templeton should have been working in the opposite direction, trying to make it feasible for as many SEC teams to reach Omaha as possible because each school in the conference shares in the postseason booty. Seeing as how MSU is sitting home after a dismal season, wouldn’t it make more sense to share in the loot?

So theorists statewide, relax and enjoy the Rebels’ sixth straight regional appearance. Better yet, get through this one and Omaha could be on the horizon.

As long as Templeton doesn’t go messing around with the airline schedules.


Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at