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Matthew Brown: What means more?

May 24—Can I reiterate the point any more?

The run that the Georgia College & State University baseball team is on would not be possible without the Bobcats winning the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. For every program at this college, winning the Peach Belt is the first and foremost goal. It has to be. NCAA Division II bids are a precious commodity not bestowed on just anybody.

And then, in another point I can't seem to reiterate enough, if you can only look at college sports from the biggest level you are finding out more and more how less valued conference championships are. I intentionally asked members of the GCSU Bobcats what it meant to be Peach Belt champion and how special that accomplishment was. The University of Georgia, by contrast, will not be celebrating a Southeastern Conference championship in baseball this season due to the 1-and-done loss Tuesday to defending national champion LSU in Hoover, Alabama.

How often do you hear about how not many are concerned about winning the SEC championship in football, and how much will that lack of concern grow with a 12-team national playoff? Vanderbilt would certainly value it for the Commodores have never played for it. Neither has the Kentucky Wildcats or even the Ole Miss Rebels, which seems to be building a national contender transfer by transfer.

But Georgia? Alabama? LSU? Nah. Save it for the CFP.

Also, for years, we wonder about the continued validity of big conference basketball tournaments, if the extra games are worth it with the March Madness grind guaranteed on the horizon? Everybody gets to play in the basketball tournament no matter the big D-1 conference, and sometimes the winner, to get that automatic NCAA bid, goes five games in five days. Again, if you started at the bottom of the bracket, that would be a big deal quickly forgotten in the big picture when people start filling out the main bracket.

Now, I start wondering what's the point of an SEC baseball tournament? I'm listening to some of the broadcast of Georgia playing Florida in the final regular season series, and I'm hearing things like, "Looking forward to hosting the Regional in two weeks." Hoover, then, is an inconvenient little side trip.

The loss to LSU won't cost Georgia a regional bid, not with the conference player of the year in Charlie Condon. Hosting a regional? Still looks like a lock, and there's quite a bit of rest between now and Game 1.

How exactly did that work for the Atlanta Braves last postseason?

Got to hand it to the SEC, though, winning the last four contested College World Series titles going back to 2019. That was Vanderbilt's year (second, actually, to go with the 2014 trophy). Then it was Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU. You could expand it to five of the last six with Florida winning it all in 2017.

But let's see how these teams did in the SEC Tournament that same year.

2023: LSU went 1-2 while Vanderbilt won the tournament.

2022: Ole Miss was 1-and-done while Tennessee won the tournament.

2021: Mississippi State went 2-and-barbecued while Arkansas won the tournament.

Hey, Vanderbilt won the SEC title in 2019! But Florida didn't in 2017.

How did these other SEC champions do afterwards, all of whom were Regional hosts?

2023: Vanderbilt couldn't get out of its own Regional losing to Oregon and Xavier.

2022: Tennessee hosted a Super Regional and lost to Notre Dame.

2021: Arkansas hosted a Super Regional and lost to North Carolina State.

Peeking over at what's going on in Division I softball, you will see that Georgia made it to a Super Regional at UCLA after hosting and winning a Regional through the loser's bracket. That's after going 1-1 in the SEC event.

The SEC in fact put seven teams in Super Regionals; if this were 2025 it would be nine including Texas and Oklahoma.

Florida won the conference tournament that included all 13 teams (Vandy does not play softball, but can sure knock you down in bowling). Only 12 of 14 made the baseball tournament, Missouri and Auburn being the odd ones out.

Did I manage to get every SEC team mentioned at least once? Is there a way to get in an Aggies or Gamecocks reference? Is there a conclusion to all of this? Way to go Bobcats!

(If at all possible, give pet adoption a try through the Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville. Donations of any kind are also in great need. ARF is a little red building at 711 S. Wilkinson St., and more information is available at animalrescuefoundation.org.)