Big Ten Countdown: 16 - Nebraska Baseball

There wasn't a whole lot to write about the Nebraska baseball team before the formation of the Big XII. Up until then, the Huskers never really were able to compete with the rest of the country (or their own conference) and play for championships.  If there was one good thing that came out of the Big XII, it was the improvement of the baseball team.

The Huskers won the conference title in 1948 and 1950. The didn't win another until the turn of the century (2001, '03, '05). They have made the NCAA tournament 14 times, but never really had a team good enough to go deep until 2001 when they got to Omaha for the first time. Since Dave Van Horn moved on to Arkansas to coach the Razorbacks, the Huskers have slowly declined back into mediocrity. This lead to Mike Anderson being let go and former player, Darin Erstad being handed the reigns to the team.

The baseball team can bring great pride to the state and they can also be an afterthought in Nebraska. It's a sport that people really want to follow, but will find better things to do if the team is doing poorly. The new coaching staff needs to be able to generate some excitement and make certain that they recruit and still play a lot of games in Texas. Nebraska's RPI will take a hit with the move to the B1G and so they will have to make up for it by playing southern schools.

Speaking of the B1G, every school in the conference has a team except for Wisconsin. They are not known for powerhouse baseball teams and only one school (Illinois) qualified for the NCAA tournament this year. That was because they got the automatic bid for winning the conference title.

Nebraska's Haymarket Park is second to none in the B1G and the conference could really use a boost in the way people view their baseball. With the right coaching staff and continued connections to the south for games/recruiting the Huskers have a chance to really be a strong contender for the B1G conference and postseason titles in baseball. If the let the sport slack a bit, they may just become another B1G baseball team.

Jon J: 

The problem the B1G has is that their RPI's are typically so low that only the conference champion gets a bid to the NCAA tournament every season. One has to hope that Nebraska can maintain a highly ranked schedule in order to keep their RPI up for seasons in which they don't win the conference tournament. It would be great to see them keep a series against Texas, and include some of the Big 12 schools as well.

Darin Erstad - still not sure what to make of the hire. It's great that he's brought Will Bolt on as an associate head coach, and will be bringing Ted Silva in as a pitching coach

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