EDIT: Before I forget, we won our tennis match today, 4-2, over LSU. I assume we will play Florida tomorrow. I hate LSU and love Kalle Norberg, who remains undefeated in SEC play. Tennis is fun, I swear. We now return you to Rebel baseball, which BWE hopes will lose tonight to Georgia.
If you were just passing through here on your way to other manly exploits, you might have developed the impression that Cup commentator and baseball analyst Brian Walker's Elbow (BWE, for short) is acting like a woman - just trying to pick a fight and see what happens. He hates Mike Bianco.
It's been this way for a long time. I blame State. You see, back in 2007, your Mississippi State Bulldogs went to the College World Series after winning a miraculous regional at Florida State and, through an error of fortune, hosting a super-regional as a #2 seed. Remembering how the Rebels in 2006 were given a fortune-favored super-regional in Oxford against Miami, but did what Jimmy Buffet did after he made enough money to buy, ironically, Miami, BWE could not accept the fact that fortune had led State to Omaha, but not Ole Miss.
Big deal, BWE. There's a little saying down in the Pine Belt that rhymes with "bit your quitchin'."
We all know what Bianco has done. BWE knows, especially. He thinks, however, that it is probable that Bianco has hit a plateau. In context, it must be easy to feel his pain. Since the arrival of Bianco, our two principal rivals have been to the College World Series. LSU has been there multiple times under different coaches, one of which they fired. Since Mike was hired, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, State, and Tennessee have all made Omaha. The Eastern Division Dawgs, Tigers, Vols, and 'Cocks have all been more than once.
When you're jilted like that, it is tough to be convinced to love the one you're with. All I offer is rock-solid evidence that Mike Bianco is the best baseball coach in the history of Ole Miss. Tough claim? Hardly. Bianco owns, at least for now, the best winning percentage among the three that have a claim to the top of the Oxford diamond heap - Bianco, Tom Swayze, and Jake Gibbs. Only 10 victories behind Swayze, who with four SEC Championships and College World Series appearances has the most legitimate claim to the throne, Bianco now owns a better winning percentage - .644 to Swayze's .642.
But, Ivory, Mike has infinitely fewer College World Series appearances. Valid point, imaginary voice, but you have to remember that, no offense to Tom, his team was composed mostly of Johnny Vaught's players who were trying to stay in shape in the off-season. Robert Khayat was not the only guy to earn All-SEC honors for both the gridiron and diamond Rebels. It was a different era, back then, BWE.
Mike, on the other hand, has overseen the rebuilding of a Rebel program into the best in the Magnolia State at the same time that Mississippi was turning into a state where college baseball was a revenue-producing commodity. And this in the face of competing programs in State and Southern that had been consistently better over the previous ten or fifteen years.
Do prospects consistently choose Oxford over Hattiesburg or Starkville? Um, yeah. Does every team in the SEC fear coming over to Swayze? Yeah. And do you know what Coach Swayze's winning season streak was? That'd be eleven. Anybody think Mike won't have winning seasons the next two years? Yeah, me neither, which would tie him with Swayze.
You know why Mike hasn't made Omaha, BWE, because it's hard! This is not your college baseball of 1970. And, furthermore, we are in the most competitive state in the country for college baseball. Anyone know another place with 2.8 little ol' million people that consistently sends all its D-I schools to the NCAA Tournament? Put your hand down, Florida; I said "2.8 million" not "28 million."
Hey, BWE, lay off. You're hogging Arkansas' crazy.