Home 2024 College World Series: Couldn’t we just call it the ACC-SEC Challenge? 
Sports

2024 College World Series: Couldn’t we just call it the ACC-SEC Challenge? 

Scott German
college world series
(© Lost_in_the_Midwest – Shutterstock)

The 77th College World Series begins Friday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha.

Virginia and North Carolina start the action with a 2 p.m. ET game, followed by Tennessee and Florida State at 7 p.m. ET.

Saturday, Kentucky and NC State square off in the matinee game while Texas A&M will meet Florida in the evening contest.

That’s correct, it’s an all-ACC/SEC College World Series.

The SEC and ACC are each sending four teams to Omaha; for the SEC, it’s the fourth time they’ve sent four since 2015, and the seventh overall, while for the ACC, it’s the first time with four in the field since 2006.

If the current trend in college sports continues, get used to such exclusivity.

It’s a simple matter of economics.

The richer schools will get richer and spend more money, which many fear will reduce the number of schools that can compete at the highest levels.

The level of play in college baseball has never been better, and will continue to improve, with the elite programs moving from recruiting to selecting the most talented players.

If you think college football is heading in that direction, college baseball is already there.

College baseball is already top-heavy.

An SEC team has claimed four straight national titles, and nine of the last 14.

The ACC has also been well-represented in Omaha the last decade, with 19 teams making the CWS.

Virginia won the national championship in 2015.

The smaller schools still have a chance, but their window of opportunity is usually limited.

Oral Roberts was included in the 2023 CWS field and won a game. This season, Evansville took Tennessee to a deciding third game in the Super Regionals.

The transfer portal hit Oral Roberts hard after their successful 2023 season, as the Golden Eagles slipped to 27-32 in 2024.

In the Charlottesville Super Regional this past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with a scout for the Colorado Rockies, who said NIL and the reduction of the number of rounds in the Major League Baseball draft would further increase the level of play at the college level.

The ability for schools to compensate players may be the deciding factor in keeping lower round selection players in school for an extra year.

The amateur draft was shortened during the pandemic and allowed more players to remain in school as well.

This year’s Omaha field includes Kentucky, who will be playing in the College World Series for the first time in program history.

While the Wildcats don’t have a rich baseball history, they do have the resources of the lucrative SEC television revenue to be able make this a routine June event.

This will be the first time the CWS has been represented by only two conferences since the event expanded to eight teams, in 1950.

It won’t be the last.

The next expected major shift in college athletics is the removal of scholarship limits.

The deep-pocketed programs may choose to fully fund their programs, which will only further create a have and have-not situation in college baseball.

So, get used to this ACC-SEC Invitational, it’s likely to become a tradition.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.