Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> A Blast from the Not-So-Distant Past About the author, Boyd Nation

A Blast from the Not-So-Distant Past

Publication Date: December 9, 2003

Nostalgia's Not What It Used to Be

Last week you got to watch one of my core beliefs take a beating, although I still think there's hope that I'll find a better way to study the effects of overuse on pitcher effectiveness. It turns out that's the second time this month that one of my long-held beliefs has taken a beating, though, and the other one's not going to survive.

I started doing the ISR's and RPI's during the 1998 season, since that was the first time I had access to a full set of scores for the season. Before that, I had been following the game on a national basis for a few years with increasing passion, but I was still using a good bit of personal bias in forming my opinions. This culminated with the 1997 season, where I had an up-close-and-personal view of what I was convinced were the best teams in the country -- the SEC sent four teams to Omaha, including the two finalists, and I followed them closely all year. And I was absolutely convinced that the wrong team won the national championship. I was quite sure that Alabama was better than LSU that year. It wasn't an unbelievable opinion; LSU won the SEC regular season, but Alabama beat them two of three in the regular season, won the SEC tournament (which I considered much more seriously back then), and had finished much stronger overall than LSU.

Over the last month, though, I've been reconstructing a score set for the 1997 season, and I'm ready to publish it. I'm missing 46 games (which means that I have 99.3% of all games involving Division I teams for that year) involving 10 teams, and I'm fairly sure that all of those games were against non-Division I teams, so I can do full ratings and be comfortable with them. Scores and standings are available now in The Filing Cabinet, and ISR's and RPI's are in their appropriate places. Thanks for this go to Rick Rollins and Craig Gowens, who contributed the largest bits of information.

And, darn it all, LSU was the best team in the country that year; they pulled into first early in March and never looked back. This was probably the most dominant national champion of the seven years that I now have records for, as no one else has led the ISR's for that length of time and won the CWS. So much for that belief, but it's one that I'm glad to have the information to put to rest.

So, what else went on that year? New Hampshire played their last year and dropped the sport. A newcomer on the national scene, tiny little Rice University, made it to Omaha, but they were regarded as a one-year fluke, since there was no way they could sustain that level of quality. It was, to a large extent, the last gasp (as far as I can tell without going back further -- it could just be that it was a one-year thing) of the two-superconference system. There were three teams from both the SEC and the Pac 10 in the top 10, with a fourth SEC team winning its home regional. Here are the ISR top 25:

                                All       D1      
Rank Team                      W   L    W   L    Rating

  1  Louisiana State           55  13   57  13   129.4
  2  Alabama                   54  14   56  14   127.4
  3  Stanford                  43  20   45  20   124.8
  4  Auburn                    49  17   50  17   122.8
  5  Miami, Florida            49  18   51  18   122.7
  6  UCLA                      43  21   45  21   122.6
  7  Southern California       40  20   42  20   122.6
  8  Florida State             48  17   50  17   121.6
  9  Arizona State             38  22   39  22   120.8
 10  Florida                   40  24   40  24   120.8
 11  Mississippi State         44  21   47  21   120.7
 12  Tennessee                 40  19   42  19   120.7
 13  Georgia Tech              46  15   46  15   120.1
 14  Rice                      47  16   47  16   120.1
 15  South Alabama             43  19   43  19   119.7
 16  Texas Tech                36  14   46  14   119.6
 17  Cal State Fullerton       39  24   39  24   118.9
 18  Louisiana-Lafayette       38  17   43  18   118.2
 19  Oklahoma State            42  19   46  19   118.1
 20  Long Beach State          38  26   39  26   117.6
 21  Santa Clara               41  19   41  20   117.0
 22  Oklahoma                  34  19   39  20   117.0
 23  Nevada                    37  21   39  21   116.8
 24  Texas A&M                 39  22   39  22   116.8
 25  Arkansas                  31  20   36  20   116.6

This was one of the last years of the 48-team tournament, and the selection's from that year bear some rather in-depth scrutiny, both on their own and in comparison with the 2003 season, so I'm going to leave that as a full topic for later.

This was a good bit of work, but I very much enjoyed it. I hope you'll take some time to poke through the standings to either trigger some memories if you've been a fan for a while or see what you missed if you haven't been. I think, given the resources that I have available, that I can go back with reasonable completeness at least a few more years, so I'll do that as time allows.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> A Blast from the Not-So-Distant Past About the author, Boyd Nation