This was supposed to be the year for several teams.
Ohio State was going to be the Big Ten program that finally punched through and made a huge statement on the national stage, East Carolina was going to take a step forward and make its first College World Series appearance, while fellow Conference USA representatives Tulane and Houston expected to have productive campaigns worthy of postseason bids.
The Buckeyes finished near the bottom of the Big Ten, East Carolina never could rebound from a poor West Coast trip and the suspension of veteran Dustin Harrington. Houston and Tulane, meanwhile, finished near the bottom of the C-USA. UH's poor year led to the dismissal of longtime coach Rayner Noble.
Those teams had years to forget. They're not alone, though.
Historical powers Oklahoma State and USC also had campaigns to forget. Georgia entered the year ranked and expected to make noise. Instead, the Bulldogs had one of their worst seasons in program history.
Fall workouts are approaching for many programs. Some will enter the fall confident with high expectations. There also are those such as these teams and others that must head back to the drawing board and find a different formula.
Perhaps a new formula will breed success. After all, no one likes to be a disappointment.
The Pirates were ranked 11th to begin the season and had a squad loaded with veterans hoping to take the next step and finally reach the College World Series. That didn't happen. The Pirates played well the first two weeks of the season against Virginia and South Carolina. However, they were unable to rebound from a poor West Coast trip and the loss of shortstop Dustin Harrington to suspension. ECU finished the season with a 32-27 overall record and failed to make an NCAA regional. They lived a nightmare.
It's safe to say we fell for the hype. The Buckeyes entered the season ranked No. 22 with a plethora of veterans and a fabulous ace pitcher in Alex Wimmers. The team, though, failed to meet several expectations. It didn't come close to making an NCAA postseason appearance and finished the year near the bottom of the Big Ten with an overall record of 28-23. The Buckeyes didn't have Wimmers for a few weeks, but his absence still doesn't excuse a seventh-place conference finish.
The Bulldogs were the biggest disappointment this year and have much work to do this fall to improve next season. Georgia began the year ranked No. 23 with high hopes of returning to the postseason. But its season didn't go as planned. The 'Dogs finished SEC play with a horrendous 5-23 mark and had an overall record of 16-37. To make matters worse, the Bulldogs finished the season with a 8.51 ERA. There was no excuse for the Bulldogs' woes in 2010.
It was supposed to be the year the Jayhawks took a step forward and either reached an NCAA super regional or even made a CWS appearance. Instead, the Jayhawks had a season to forget. They welcomed back several key players, specifically on the mound, and somehow managed to finish the season with an unimpressive 5.47 ERA with not a single starting pitcher possessing an earned run average below five. KU finished the season with no postseason appearance, a seventh-place Big 12 standing and a 31-27 overall record. KU heads back to the drawing board this fall.
We're serious when we ask this, but will the Bulls ever take a step forward? It doesn't seem like it will happen soon if '10 is any indication. USF entered the season with high hopes and was picked near the top of the Big East. The Bulls were expected to compete for an NCAA regional appearance and Big East title. Instead, they finished the year fourth in the league and compiled a dismal 26-32 record. Coach Lelo Prado did good things at Louisville, but things just aren't going his way at USF. At least not yet.
The Cougars had some injury issues this year, but their finish was inexcusable considering some of the talented players they had. UH expected to finish near the top of the Conference USA standings. Instead, it finished in a three-way tie for fifth and failed to make a postseason appearance after compiling a 25-32 overall record. The Cougars accomplished a lot at times during the Rayner Noble era. However, the university felt it was time to part ways with the longtime coach and bring in TCU assistant Todd Whitting, a former UH assistant to Noble. UH had a poor year but is a sleeping giant.
It wasn't too long ago – '05 to be exact – the Green Wave entered the CWS as the top national seed. That now seems like ancient history as the Green Wave suddenly can't find their stride. Tulane didn't enter the year ranked. However, it expected to compete for an NCAA regional appearance. Even that didn't happen. It compiled a respectable 32-24 overall record, but finished C-USA play tied for last with UCF with a 10-14 league mark. The Green Wave desperately needs to make the postseason next year to turn the tide.
There was a time not long ago when the Dirtbags were a postseason mainstay. Now the program has turned into one that can't find its path. The Dirtbags welcomed back several key players this year and expected to take a step forward and return to the postseason. That didn't happen. The Dirtbags never found their stride, finished last in the Big West and ended the campaign with a dismal 23-32 overall record. The Dirtbags hope new coach Troy Buckley gets the program headed the right direction.
Maybe the Cowboys were still shell shocked by the Andy Oliver situation and getting beat in the Clemson Regional title game back in '09? Whatever it was, it wasn't pretty. The Pokes entered the year expecting to get back to a regional. Instead, they had a season to forget. OSU, a historical power, finished 16 games behind Texas in the Big 12 standings with an 8-19 record. It also ended the year with an overall record of 29-26. The '11 campaign will be very important for coach Frank Anderson and the Cowboys.
Some will believe the Trojans are joking about winning 12 national titles if the current trend continues much longer. USC hoped to return to the NCAA postseason this year. However, it had another disappointing campaign that ended with no postseason berth. USC finished last in the Pac-10 with a 7-20 conference mark. It also ended the campaign with an overall record of 28-32 record. The Trojans haven't appeared in a regional since '05 and haven't been to Omaha since '01. Will coach Chad Kreuter finally turn the tide in '11?