The NCAA Selection Committee, in a display of profound indifference, striking laziness or complete incompetence, has decided to send Clemson to Columbia as the #2 seed. Like most fans (on both sides) I hate this, and I despise the committee for their opaque process that created this mess.
First, some history. South Carolina faces Clemson every year in baseball. Until a few years ago the norm was for the teams to play 4 times a season. Recently that was changed to a single, three game weekend series.
In 2010 SC and Clemson met in Omaha, twice. Carolina won both games and a national championship. The powers that be enjoyed that matchup so much that they set Carolina and Clemson on a collision course to play in the super-regionals in 2011. UConn upset Clemson, so the Gamecocks played them instead. To avoid that problem, the committee just put the two teams in the same regional in 2012. They got their beloved matchup and apparently loved it. So, they're doing it again.
The question of whether Clemson should be the 2nd team in South Carolina's regional may not have been asked. From the outside it appears that whether Clemson should be slotted in Carolina's regional based on the merits of the two teams was an afterthought. They thought "look at the most intense inter-conference rivalry in the country. Let's put them together, even if neither want that or deserve it."
I hate this because it is unfair to the players. South Carolina and Clemson have already played this year. Carolina won two out of three games. Apparently those games don't matter, and now the Gamecocks must prove that they are the better team again. Clemson, having lost the series in the regular season, gets a mulligan.
It's also the nature of this rivalry that whichever team loses this weekend will probably have their season judged a failure. That's not fair at all, but when you play your archrival in such an early round, that will be the take away.
I hate this because it is unfair to the coaches. If South Carolina loses this regional to Clemson in Chad Holbrook's first year, get ready for the (undeserved) accusations that this wouldn't have happened to Ray Tanner. This is partially true; Tanner beat Clemson in the same situation last year.
And don't forget about Jack Leggett, Clemson's coach. Despite the success he has had at Clemson, he is becoming known more and more for his recent lack of success against South Carolina. He has a very solid program and should be allowed to see if it can grow with a post season run that doesn't include the Gamecocks out of the gate.
I hate this because it is unfair to the fans. Here's the thing about the South Carolina - Clemson rivalry: it is nasty. These games bring out the absolute worst in the fanbases. I see Carolina fans acting terribly to Clemson fans, and I see Clemson fans doing the same. Of course it's not all fans, but the animosity between the fanbases is incredibly unhealthy. The atmosphere is charged in a very negative way. It has become more about hate for the rival than love for the alma mater. Some fans on both sides are choosing simply not to attend and be a part of this.
It's unfair because no one else has to do it. It's harder to beat your rival. Ever heard the trite remark "you can throw out the records when these two play?" That cliche is referring to the fact that when actual rivals play, the intensity of the rivalry lessens the talent gap. All things being equal, a rival is more likely to pull an upset.
No one else in the country has to do this. Don't tell me about Florida and Miami. That "rivalry" is absolutely nothing compared to Clemson - South Carolina. Baseball is not a priority for those fanbases, and it shows in their attendance at games. Plus both of those teams are bigger rivals with Florida State anyway.
The committee did this because it could, and it will vaguely make up BS about why. They will say the field is set by RPI, or geography, a team's body of work, or how they finished the season. Conference finishes and tournments matter, and they don't. And someone will come out of the Columbia regional, and the tournament will go on. It will happen again next year to someone, maybe SC and Clemson, maybe not. And it will happen again and again and again because we use a committee with secret meetings picking and choosing the facts to use and disregard as they see fit. There is no transparency; there is no accountability, and there is no chance this won't happen again.