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The Annual February Preview

Publication Date: December 4, 2001

Ho, Hum

I have this problem -- a banal, pleasant problem, but a problem none the less. Last November, I wrote a column where I decried the onset of cold weather and previewed the early season schedule as a coping mechanism. I planned to do that each year, so, squirrel-like, I went around and gathered up the schedule highlights that I could find back in early November, and I waited for the weather to turn cold so I could provide solace to me and those like me who hate winter.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. The weather around here has been unrelentingly, unsparingly, unbrokenly pleasant. It's rained maybe twice since November 1. The high has been in the lower 70's almost every day for the last six weeks, with clear skies and nothing more complicated than the occasional pretty touch of morning fog. One of the rainy times involved our perennial tragedy of tornados and the accompanying horror, but even that was brief for those not directly affected. The weather has been so nice that Hawaiians are starting to call up, say, "I hear you folks are having nice weather," and inquire about tourist possibilities. The only living beings in the metro area not happy about the weather are the polar bears at the local zoo and Mrs. Gladys Simpson of north Shelby County, who is one of those transplanted Yankees whose task in life has been to move down and let all of us know that life in Birmingham is not exactly like life back in Jersey. It's just plain been impossible to get depressed about the weather this year.

Nonetheless, it's time to start looking forward to baseball, so let's break out a schedule. Rather than limit myself to February this year, I want to look at all the big non-conference games that are scheduled before most of the conference seasons start. I'm ignoring the perennial matchups -- if there's a year when Miami doesn't play Florida State or Cal State Fullerton doesn't play Southern Cal, I'll let you know.


Tennessee at Miami

We get out of the gates in a hurry with this one, featuring two of last year's final four CWS participants. Tennessee must learn how to manage without Chris Burke, but this still promises to be a good one to wet your whistle with, so to speak.


Tennessee at Arizona State
Stanford at Florida State
Rice, Houston, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and
  Louisiana-Lafayette in Astros College Classic
Tulane at Pepperdine

Tennessee goes on the road again, while Stanford heads east for a renewal of what is turning into an interesting annual matchup -- no bad blood, but some really good baseball. The Enron name is gone, but the Astros College Classic returns with an expanded field -- each of the teams will play three games against someone from "the other side", with Big 12 teams against the others. The Tulane-Pepperdine matchup really looks good, with two top 10 teams from last year, both of whom should still be pretty good, coming from outside the traditional power conferences.


Arizona State at Florida State
Wake Forest, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Rice in Rice Tournament
Arizona at Texas A&M
Baylor at Southern Cal

Some good matchups here, although none of them call out for comment -- just the kind of stuff you need to get a good feel between regions in any given year.


North Carolina vs Georgia in the Savannah Shootout
South Carolina vs Georgia Tech in the Myrtle Beach Tournament
Auburn at Clemson
LSU at Houston
Cal State Fullerton at Arizona State
Ohio State at Mississippi State

Several of the preseason favorites to go farther than usual -- North Carolina, Mississippi State, Houston, and Ohio State -- get started in serious play here.


Long Beach State at LSU
California at North Carolina
Miami, Southern Cal, Fullerton, and Houston in Kia Baseball Bash
UCLA at Tulane

The Kia Baseball Bash has always been a good show, but this is an absolutely incredible field.


North Carolina at Auburn
Arizona at Long Beach State
Cal State Fullerton at Wichita State
Rutgers at Tulane
Notre Dame vs Southern Cal in the Express College Classic

Most folks are getting down to conference play by this point, but a couple of the cold-weather teams wait until here to take on serious opponents.


A couple of corrections to last week's column: Derek Jeter spent one semester at Michigan between high school and spring training, but he played no sports there and was intending to go straight into baseball as a career, so he's off as the backup shortstop for the college All-Stars. Off the top of my head, I'll throw the Angels' David Eckstein, from Florida, in as his replacement. I suppose you could make a conceptual case for Jeter on the other team, but I like Catalanotto, so I'll leave that one out for now. Albert Pujols spent time playing at a junior college, so he's off the minor league team.

Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> The Annual February Preview About the author, Boyd Nation