The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 5, 2013

The Fall ball experiment

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The proposal would not change the mid-February start date or the structure of conference play or NCAA regionals, super regionals and College World Series.

There is no agreement on the maximum number of fall games. Schreiber suggests teams be allowed to practice 24 times beginning in late August and then have the option to play up to 14 games from mid-September to late October. A team that plays 14 games in the fall would have a maximum of 42 to play the following spring.

Indiana coach Tracy Smith said to gain support from programs in the South and West, four to six fall games would be reasonable to start.

Home games are crucial for building a team’s RPI — the biggest factor in NCAA tournament selection — because the home team wins about 60 percent of the time, according to the NCAA.

Big Ten favorite Indiana is scheduled to play 18 home games this season while defending national champion Arizona will play 38.

Supporters acknowledge many warm-weather schools, and even some in the North, will choose not to play any fall games.

“I don’t begrudge them for not wanting to change the system,” Indiana’s Smith said. “If you can keep doing business as usual, don’t shoot it down for the schools that want access to those four to six games.”

Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said his concern is that pitchers in fall games would end up being overworked after having spent July and August on summer-league teams. Stricklin’s team, from the Mid-American Conference, in 2012 became one of just six from the North the past 10 years to make it to the College World Series.

Stricklin said he would like to play fall games that don’t count in the RPI so he can get young pitchers ready for the spring. The NCAA now allows teams to play four exhibitions in the fall that count against the 56-game limit for the calendar year and for nothing else.

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