July 3, 2014
Some College World Series leftovers. (they never get stale, do they!)
In 1993 we worked closely with our women’s basketball team, the one that made the Final Four. The team went 30-3 on the year and we watched as our national ranking went from 3 to 2 and then to No. 1 for six weeks. There was no discernible difference in being rated third rather than fourth, or even second instead of third. But there was a huge difference in being first.
The baseball program is feeling that difference now, in media coverage, in souvenir sales where merchants can’t keep CWS items in stock and most importantly, in public perception. People respected us when we finished third in Omaha in 2011 but the difference after winning is stunning.
We received an interesting social media summary from the CWS run. Amongst the data, David Price’s tweet (he has 215,701 followers) about our clinching victory produced 959 retweets and 1,429 favorites. ESPN’s tweet about Brian Miller’s marriage proposal produced 7,710 retweets and 11,117 favorites. Wins over Texas June 22 and Virginia June 24 drove the peaks of social media interactions and the clinching win June 26 caused the largest spike in volume. 85% of the chatter was rated positive - hard to buy better publicity.
Many of us have said this wasn’t our best team and cited other Corbin-era units that had higher rankings or perceived better talent. Upon some reflection, Slant believes this was without a doubt our best team although not necessarily the best collection of individual talent. This team was more than the sum of its parts and had that elusive intangible of being able to solve challenges as they arose. This was our best team; it won a national championship!
Speaking of Hawkins Field, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Charlie Hawkins could have been in Omaha in body and not just spirit? It was Charlie Hawkins who was fanning the flames of our baseball program when baseball wasn’t so cool. Without him, we likely don’t have Tim Corbin or a national championship.
A few wondered how our other national championship program feels about sharing the title spotlight; we can put that to rest quickly. There were no bigger fans than bowling coaches John Williamson and Josie Earnest, both of whom have personal ties to Corbin and the baseball program. Williamson worked under Corbin during Tim’s first two years here and says much of what he knows was learned during that time. Corbin spoke to the bowlers on the eve of their 2007 title run and emailed back and forth during that tourney with then-freshman Earnest, offering his encouragement.
Joe Fisher was telling us of the terrific interviews he’s been doing with our players and coaches as a commemorative DVD is being compiled. Joe says there were some tears shed in the post-season interviews. It can be purchased on-line now for $29.95 on vucommodores.com and is scheduled to ship later this month.