What has Caused the Decline of Rebel Baseball?

Ronald Martinez

Because, for real, it's been on a bit of a downward slope.

Mike Bianco - the winningest head baseball coach in Ole Miss history, lest you forget - has led the Rebels to the postseason in 10 of his 12 years as head coach of the Rebel program. He also can boast an SEC Championship and an SEC Tournament championship, accomplishments which certainly were not within the grasp of his immediate predecessors. Before his arrival in Oxford, baseball was an afterthought at Ole Miss; now it is one of the main attractions, with Swayze Field continually ranking in the top-5 of college baseball attendance. The program under his guidance is more watched, celebrated, and discussed than it has ever been.

But has he reached the apex of his success? Are we on the way back down after Coach Bianco's recent flirtations with College World Series berths? Let's look at the most successful stretch of seasons under Coach Bianco's leadership in Oxford.

  • 2004 - The Rebels hosted an NCAA regional for the first time in program history.
  • 2005 - Hosted a regional and a (bullshit) super regional matchup against eventual CWS winner Texas. Arguably Mike Bianco's most capable team ever. (hosted super as well),
  • 2006 - Won the SEC Baseball Tournament, hosted a regional and a super regional.
  • 2007 - Hosted a regional and made the Arizona State super regional.
  • 2009 - Yet another regional host, as well as a super regional host (not to mention the regular season SEC "Title"*)

But, since then, no regional hosts in a stadium built for the occasion, no legitimate chances at any sort of SEC title, no 40-win seasons, nothing that resembles what this program was just five years ago. Sure, we've had top-25 rankings, All-Americans, and damn good wins against damn good teams, but we haven't been able to string together successes as we did during Bianco's best years.

So why is this? Is it coaching? Is it recruiting? Is it everyone else in the SEC getting better? Is this regression to the mean? Is it all of the above? What ails Ole Miss baseball, and how could you cure it?

*Of course we would have the distinct "honor" of "sharing" this title with LSU. And, of course, it was our own damn fault.

**NOTE: We are free to redact and rescind any opinions we have on this if/when Bianco breaks through the Omaha barrier. We're calling it the Andy Kennedy Rule, in that shedding your albatross should and will earn our fickle fandom.
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