K-State baseball coach critical of RPI system, offers solution

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – K-State head baseball coach Pete Hughes did not mince words when discussing the NCAA’s RPI ranking system Tuesday night.

The Wildcats seemingly padded their record with a 6-4 win over Omaha, but games like this could potentially harm their RPI ranking. RPI, or ‘rating percentage index,’ is a metric the NCAA uses to evaluate the quality of a team’s wins and losses.

Playing opponents with high RPI’s can be detrimental to a team, like K-State, that’s trying to make a push for the College World Series in Omaha.

“That’s the system that runs the national tournament,” Hughes said of the RPI rankings following K-State’s win over Omaha. “There’s no other area in society where you are punished for winning other than RPI, and it’s a metric that drives all of these decisions, important decisions at the end of the year.”

As of April 25, Omaha is 295 in the rankings, while K-State sits at 35.

After K-State barely missed the cut for postseason play in Omaha last season, the Wildcat head coach released a statement calling the RPI system a ‘flawed metric.’ The ‘Cats did not get a regional bid to the 64-team tournament in 2023, finishing with an RPI rank of 55.

Now, almost a year later, the frustration continues. Hughes says ‘shame on the RPI system’ for making him contemplate cancelling their home contest with Omaha, where local middle schoolers were honored for their academic excellence.

“The three or four of our highest RPI wins should not count against our resume, so we don’t even have to think about cancelling games,” Hughes said. “Now if we lose a high-RPI game, that should count. We should own it, that’s ours.”

The easy solution would be to just not schedule or cancel games against high-RPI opponents, but Hughes says the games, which are often non-conference, allows K-State to give bench players more playing time and have buffer games between weekend series.

K-State baseball announced Wednesday, the morning after beating Omaha, that it’s cancelling its upcoming contest against UC Riverside, which was originally scheduled for April 30. The ‘Cats now have more time to prepare for Big 12 opponent Texas Tech the following weekend, but it’s worth noting UC Riverside is 250 in the RPI rankings.

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