Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Since 2010, six teams have won their first College World Series Championship, including a streak of five straight, first-time winners from 2013-2017. With the rise of a new-guard of teams in college baseball to challenge the blue bloods, it is likely that the next decade will provide a few more first-time winners.
We asked College Baseball Nation's Twitter followers which team they thought would be the next to break through, and Arkansas and Mississippi State ran away with the poll. Find out what our analysts had to say below.
Kyle's (@kylemckelv) verdict: Texas Tech
This is quite difficult to answer. A case could be made for any one of Louisville, Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Mississippi State to win a title in the next decade. The question is about the first team to accomplish this feat, so I am bound to make some fans mad.
As an Aggie graduate, I am hesitant to admit this, but I believe Texas Tech will be the first team out of this group to win a title.
All these teams are similar, so I had to find a factor that set these teams apart. Coaches, recruiting base, conference competition, and recent success are a few of the components that elite programs need to have, which all contribute to talent acquisition and success on the field.
The state of Texas consistently has a ton of recruits to sift through and, given Texas Tech’s recent success, the Red Raiders can almost have their pick of the litter for in-state talent. However, Louisville, Arkansas, and Mississippi State all have equally talent-rich areas in which to recruit, so this is a push, with a slight lean in Tech’s favor.
Mississippi State is the only one out of this group to have inconsistent coaching in recent years. Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn has been in Fayetteville since 2003. Dan McDonnell has been in charge at Louisville since 2007. Texas Tech’s head man is Tim Tadlock, who has been in Lubbock since 2013. Since 2013, Mississippi State has had three different head coaches. State has still had sustained success in that time without consistency at the head coach spot, so this does not separate any of these teams, in my opinion.
The separating factor for me to lean towards Texas Tech in this debate is conference competition. I am not knocking the other teams in the ACC or Big 12 because there have been some good teams of late, but the SEC consistently has elite teams, which gives Arkansas and Mississippi State little room for error. If they slip up a little bit, there will be a team right behind them, ready to take their spot. It is a similar story in the ACC, with elite competition week in and week out. I believe that the Big 12 is there for the taking for Texas Tech more often and more easily than the other teams’ respective conferences. That does not mean you Texas fans or TCU fans can screenshot this and tweet it at me later if one of those teams wins it this year, but I bet you will anyway.
Of course, winning your conference does not guarantee a CWS title or even an appearance in the CWS, but I believe that winning a conference regular season and/or tournament title shows you have what it takes to win in Omaha. Winning your conference also gives teams a higher seed in the NCAA tournament, which means you have a slightly easier path to Omaha than a lower seeded team.
Riley's (@ZayasRiley) verdict: Mississippi State
“We won’t be scared to talk about playing for a national championship.”
Those were Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis’ words to the Bulldog faithful upon taking the head job in Starkville in the summer of 2018.
Since that point, the Bulldogs have reached Omaha once, in 2019, and started the 2020 season with a 12-4 record, before COVID-19 marked the end of the campaign. But in the program’s extensive 135 year history, the Bulldogs have never won it all in Omaha.
This seems like a good time to use the old sportswriting cliche and say, “but that could very well change this upcoming season”.
In all reality, that statement is completely accurate. The Bulldogs may have lost ace J.T. Ginn and starting second baseman Justin Foscue to the MLB Draft, but return a plethora of talent at the plate, including infielder Kamren James, who will likely start in place of Foscue at second base, and utility player Josh Hatcher, who broke out in 2019 with a .321 batting average.
This Mississippi State squad has the makings of a national champion, and for more reasons than just the players. The Bulldogs will play in an Omaha-like round-robin tournament to begin the 2021 campaign at the Texas Rangers’ state-of-the-art stadium, Globe Life Field against the likes of TCU, Texas and Texas Tech. As always, the SEC schedule will be an uphill challenge from beginning to end, with the conference keeping the same schedule as in 2020 with different dates. If anything, that will only prepare the team more for the opponents and atmosphere they will experience come tournament time. And don’t kid yourself, the majority of this team has been here before; and proven its potential to reach Omaha season after season. Now, in 2021, it is time to overcome that hump and finally earn an NCAA title.
John's (@johnny_omaha_) verdict: Louisville
Ask me again next week, and my answer might be different, but for now, I am picking Louisville as the next team that will break through and win their first College World Series. My first instinct was to choose Texas Tech or TCU because of their recent success and more straightforward path to hosting a Regional and Super Regional, but Louisville's success under head coach, Dan McDonnell, is impossible to ignore.
In the 13 years with McDonnell at the helm, Louisville has finished first in their conference nine times, including five of the last six years. Once upon a time, the naysayers were skeptical that Louisville could handle the competition in the ACC, but the detractors are silent now. Louisville has established themselves as the team to beat in the ACC.
What does winning with such consistency get you? Louisville is currently riding an eight-year NCAA Tournament appearance streak. In that time period, the Cardinals have hosted a Regional six times and earned a top-eight seed four of those years. When it comes to making the College World Series, hosting is crucial; over the past five years, 52.5% of teams that make it to Omaha were top-eight seeds.
With all that said, I need to point out a few honorable mentions. The aforementioned TCU and Texas Tech each have multiple College World Series appearances over the past decade. Mississippi State has the talent and has managed to find consistency in terms of results despite a lack of consistency in coaching. What can the Bulldogs do with Chris Lemonis at the helm? Arkansas clearly has had what it takes to win a College World Series. Razorbacks fans don't need a reminder of how close they once were. Finally, you have to imagine that someday Florida State will win a title.
Time will only tell, but don't be surprised if there is a first-time champion in 2021. Seven of the teams in the top ten of College Baseball Nation's Preseason Top 25 have never won a College World Series title.