From dogpiles to disappointment and disrespect.
The first two are indisputable. The Arizona Wildcats went from winning the 2012 College World Series to missing the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The disrespect part? That’s a conference-wide snub, JUA coach Andy Lopez said.
The NCAA selection committee picked nine teams from the SEC and eight from the ACC, while the Pac-12 — rated third in the baseball RPI behind those conferences — was able to send just four teams into the postseason field, which was announced Monday morning.
“In the Southeastern Conference, you get rewarded for having an average year,” Lopez said. “On the West Coast, you get punished.”
Arizona finished 34-21 overall and 15-15 in the Pac-12. Stanford tied for fourth in the league with a 16-14 record. The Cardinal didn’t make it either. Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State did.
“I really do wish the Pacifc-12 was given a little more respect,” Lopez said.
“There is no way (only) four teams from the Pac-12 gets in. C’mon.”
Texas A&M, which finished ninth in the SEC with a 13-16 league mark, made the NCAA Tournament — as a No. 2 seed in a regional. Florida lost nine of its final 11 SEC games, finished eighth in the league at 14-16 and is a game above .500 (29-28). The Gators are in the tourney.
“Are you kidding me?” Lopez said, holding interviews at Hi Corbett Field on Monday morning.
“If we had lost nine of our last 11 conference games, you guys would have been tearing this place down and turning it into a Walmart.”
Make no mistake, the Wildcats had an iffy resume. They know that.
In most of the ways in which you can parse the numbers, they just didn’t add up favorably to Arizona. But there is still this: Only four Pac-12 teams amid the abundance of teams from the SEC and ACC?
“We had more talent than what we showed this year,” junior pitcher Konner Wade conceded.
“I mean, .500 isn’t acceptable for us as a program. But you’d think that a team that finished .500 in the Pac-12, with 34 wins, that would be good enough. But it wasn’t. You finish .500 in the SEC or ACC, you’re probably safe to get in.”
Arizona can look back in regret at a number of games — including a 2-1 home loss to Washington and losing a series at Stanford. The Cats’ pitching wasn’t good enough for much of the conference season, with the staff compiling a 5.21 ERA in league games.
Arizona did get hot for the final two weeks, winning five of six, but it has nothing to show for it. While teams in other leagues can get hot in the final week and possibly be rewarded with a conference tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAAs, the Pac-12 does not hold a tourney.
“It’s just a tough moment for all of us,” said junior outfielder Johnny Field.
“We didn’t play as great as wanted to all year, but we thought down the stretch, we might have played well enough to sneak in there.”
Instead, it’s on to next year while 64 teams move on.
“I’m really childish when it comes to this stuff. If I could leave the country for the next five weeks I would, because I don’t really pay attention to anything after this point because we didn’t get in,” Lopez said.
“I feel the responsibility to get our guys into the postseason on a yearly basis, and I take full responsibility for failing them.”
Ultimately, Lopez’s message to the team Monday was the same as it was last year after the championship — this is just one moment in your lives.
“Like I told them, if this is the worst thing that happens in your life, sign the contract and keep the duplicate form,” Lopez said. “You’ll get over this.”