A look at the eight teams competing in the College World Series, which starts Friday at Charles Schwab Field. (Capsules in order of CWS opening games. Coaches’ records through super regionals):

Virginia (46-15)

Coach: Brian O’Connor (885-368-2 in 21 years at Virginia and overall).

Road to Omaha: Won Charlottesville Regional: beat Penn 4-2, beat Mississippi State 5-4, beat Mississippi State 9-2. Won Charlottesville Super Regional: beat Kansas State 7-4, beat Kansas State 10-4.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 3-4 (2-1 vs. North Carolina, 1-2 vs. N.C. State, 0-1 vs. Florida State).

Last CWS appearance: 2023.

All-time record in CWS: 13-12 in six appearances (won national title in 2015).

Meet the Cavaliers: C Jacob Ference (.354, 17 HRs, 43 RBIs), 1B Henry Ford (.339, 17, 68), 2B Henry Godbout (.370, 9, 46), SS Griff O’Ferrall (.332, 5, 51), 3B Eric Becker (.363, 8, 46), LF Harrison Didawick (.297, 23, 68), CF Bobby Whalen (.370, 2, 35), RF Casey Saucke (.343, 14, 64). Starting pitchers: Evan Blanco (8-3, 3.69 ERA), RHP Jay Woolfolk (4-1, 5.95), RHP Joe Savino (3-2, 3.18). Relievers: RHP Chase Hungate (7-1, 3.71), LHP Owen Coady (1-1, 5.94), LHP Angelo Tonas (3-0, 3.96), RHP Aidan Teel (2-2, 7.88), LHP Blake Barker (2-1, 7.31), RHP Ryan Osinski (4-1, 4.80), RHP Matt Augustin (2-0, 4.28).

MLB alumni: Ryan Zimmerman, Ricky Horton, Javier Lopez, Mark Reynolds, Phil Gosselin, Sean Doolittle, David Adams, Pavin Smith.

Short hops: Brian O’Connor grew up across the Missouri River from Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and he has participated in the CWS as a pitcher (1991, Creighton), assistant (2002, Notre Dame) and head coach. ... Virginia is in CWS for second straight year and third time in four years. ... The Cavaliers' .336 season batting average is the best among teams in Omaha. ... Their 116 homers are 33 more than the previous program record of 83, set last year.

Quotable: “We’ve got excellent young men who represent this uniform the right way and they’re tigers, they’re just completely relentless with everything they do. You won’t be able to get the smile off my face that they have the opportunity to go back to Omaha. I’m very very confident we’ll be ready to play whenever they tell us to play and believe we’ll have a deeper run than we had last year.” — O’Connor.

North Carolina (47-14)

Coach: Scott Forbes (153-87, four years at North Carolina and overall).

Road to Omaha: Won Chapel Hill regional: beat LIU 11-8, beat LSU 6-2, beat LSU 8-4, beat LSU 4-3 in 10 innings. Won Chapel Hill super regional: beat West Virginia 8-6, beat West Virginia 2-1.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 2-4 (1-2 vs. Virginia, 1-2 vs. N.C. State).

Last CWS appearance: 2018.

All-time record in CWS: 18-23 in 11 appearances.

Meet the Tar Heels: C Luke Stevenson (.283, 14 HRs, 58 RBIs), 1B Parks Harber (.341, 20, 63), 2B Alex Madera (.301, 2, 34), SS Colby Wilkerson (.282, 3, 33), 3B Gavin Gallaher (.337, 8, 38), LF Casey Cook (.339, 18, 76), CF Vance Honeycutt (.314, 26, 65), RF Anthony Donofrio (.338, 7, 52), DH Alberto Osuna (.285, 14, 56). Starting pitchers: RHP Jason DeCaro (6-1, 3.89 ERA), LHP Shea Sprague (3-1, 4.00), RHP Aidan Haugh (4-2, 4.53). Relievers: LHP Dalton Pence (4-1, 2.04, 8 saves), RHP Matthew Matthijs (12-4, 3.65), RHP Ben Peterson (3-2, 4.97), RHP Matt Poston (5-2, 5.25), LHP Kyle Percival (4-0, 2.42), RHP Connor Bovair (1-0, 3.71), RHP Cameron Padgett (1-0, 4.91).

MLB Alumni: Michael Busch, Cooper Criswell, Tim Federowicz, Zac Gallen, Matt Harvey, Chris Iannetta, Andrew Miller, Colin Moran, Mike Morin, Ryder Ryan, Kyle Seager, Jacob Stallings, Trent Thornton, Adam Warren.

Short hops: The Tar Heels’ 47 wins are their most since they had 48 in 2009. ... They scored the winning run or runs on their last at-bat in three of their five NCAA Tournament wins. ... Honeycutt broke his school single-season home run record when he belted his 26th in the super regional-clinching win. ... Matthew Matthijs' 12 wins lead the ACC and are ranked third nationally.

Quotable: “I’m really happy for this team, these players. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Omaha and these guys haven’t. My whole goal, I just want to get these guys there because they deserve to be there.” — Forbes.

Florida State (47-15)

Coach: Link Jarrett (70-46 in two seasons at FSU; 371-244 overall in 12 seasons).

Road to Omaha: Won Tallahassee Regional: beat Stetson 7-2, beat UCF 5-2, beat UCF 12-4. Won Tallahassee Super Regional: beat UConn 24-4, beat UConn 10-8, 12 innings.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 5-1 (3-0 vs. Florida, 1-1 vs. N.C. State, 1-0 vs. Virginia).

Last CWS appearance: 2019.

All-time record in CWS: 30-46 in 23 appearances.

Meet the Seminoles: C Jaxon West (.263, 2 HRs, 26 RBIs) or McGwire Holbrook (.268, 2, 16), 1B Daniel Cantu (.311, 8, 40), 2B Drew Faurot (.294, 6, 28), SS Alex Lodise (.276, 7, 41), 3B Cam Smith (.402, 16, 56), LF Jaime Ferrer (.319, 19, 58), CF Max Williams (.301, 13, 43), RF James Tibbs III (.374, 28, 94), DH Marco Dinges (.321, 15, 66). Starting pitchers: LHP Jamie Arnold (11-3, 2.77 ERA), LHP Carson Dorsey (7-4, 4.67), RHP Connor Whittaker (5-0, 4.75). Relievers: LHP Brennen Oxford (2-0, 2.94, 6 saves), RHP John Abraham (5-1, 4.24), LHP Connor Hults (2-1, 4.45), LHP Andrew Armstrong (5-0, 6.98), RHP Joe Charles (1-0, 6.52), RHP Noah Short, 1-1, 7.71), RHP Ben Barrett (1-0, 5.27), LHP Brady Louck (1-1, 7.06), LHP Rowan Hudson (0-1, 9.20), RHP Yoel Tejeda Jr. (1-2, 5.95).

MLB Alumni: Buster Posey, J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew, Kevin Cash, Doug Mientkiewicz, Paul Sorrento, Deion Sanders, Richie Lewis, Luis Alicea, Terry Kennedy, Johnny Grubb, Dick Howser.

Short hops: Jarrett is taking his second school to the CWS. His Notre Dame team made it in 2022. He played in three CWS as an FSU shortstop in the 1990s. ... Tibbs, the ACC player of the year, hit three homers in the 10-8, 12-inning super regional-clinching win over UConn. His 28 homers are FSU's most since Marshall McDougall hit 28 in 1999. ... The Seminoles’ 24-win improvement extends the largest year-over-year jump in program history. ... The Seminoles have homered in 15 consecutive games and in 57 of 62.

Quotable: “There are a lot of things that come at you when you're in Omaha. There are a lot of interviews, a lot of distractions, a lot of people. The first opening weekend in Omaha is right up there with an experience at an NFL Super Bowl playoff-type game, the Final Four, Augusta. It's that. And they're going to feel it, and I’m probably more prepared for it now because of what I had to go through in Omaha in 2022.” — Jarrett.

Tennessee (55-12)

Coach: Tony Vitello (290-111 in seven years at Tennessee and overall).

Road to Omaha: Won Knoxville Regional: beat Northern Kentucky 9-3, beat Indiana 12-6, beat Southern Mississippi 12-3. Won Knoxville Super Regional: beat Evansville 11-6, lost to Evansville 10-8, beat Evansville 12-1.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 5-1 (2-0 vs. Kentucky, 2-1 vs. Florida, 1-0 vs. Texas A&M).

Last CWS appearance: 2023.

All-time record in CWS: 9-12 in six appearances.

Meet the Volunteers: C Cal Stark (.231, 10 HRs, 28 RBIs), 1B Blake Burke (.376, 19, 56), 2B Christian Moore (.375, 32, 71), SS Dean Curley (.273, 12, 46), 3B Billy Amick (.313, 23. 64), LF Dylan Dreiling (.320, 20, 64), CF Hunter Ensley (.292, 11, 45), RF Kavares Tears (.330, 18, 55), DH Dalton Bargo (.294, 8, 27). Starting pitchers: LHP Chris Stamos (3-0, 4.02 ERA), RHP Drew Beam (8-2, 4.44), LHP Zander Sechrist (4-1, 3.26). Relievers: RHP AJ Causey (13-3, 3.77), LHP Kirby Connell (4-1, 3.98), RHP Nate Snead (9-2, 3.34, 5 saves), LHP Andrew Behnke (3-1, 3.12), RHP JJ Garcia (3-0, 3.97), RHP Aaron Combs (2-1, 2.65).

MLB alumni: Todd Helton, Phil Garner, Rick Honeycutt, Luke Hochevar, R.A. Dickey, Joe Randa, Mike Difelice, Bubba Trammell, Chris Burke, Mike Lincoln, Steve Searcy, Nick Senzel.

Short hops: The Vols' 173 home runs are a school record and second most in Division I history behind LSU's 188 in 1997. ... This is the Vols' second straight CWS and third in four years. ... Seven home runs in super regional-clinching win tied a school record. ... The Vols have hit at least six home runs in six games. ... The Vols are averaging 10.7 runs and 4.33 home runs per game in NCAA Tournament. ... Billy Amick, Christian Moore and Cal Stark each have four homers in the tournament.

Quotable: “Omaha is real fun to go to. If you don’t play that well, it ain’t that fun.” — Vitello.

North Carolina State (38-21)

 

Coach: Elliott Avent (1,036-613 in 28 years at NC State; 1,260-826 in 36 years overall).

Road to Omaha: Won Raleigh Regional (beat Bryant 9-2, beat South Carolina 6-4, beat James Madison 5-3). Won Athens Super Regional (beat Georgia 18-1, lost to Georgia 11-2, beat Georgia 8-5).

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 5-3 (2-1 vs. North Carolina, 1-1 vs. Florida State).

Last CWS appearance: 2021.

All-time record in CWS: 5-5 in three appearances.

Meet the Wolfpack: C Jacob Cozart (.300, 19 HRs, 53 RBIs), 1B Garrett Pennington (.348, 18, 65), 2B Matt Heavner (.264, 10, 33), SS Brandon Butterworth (.250, 7, 31), 3B Alec Makarewicz (.380, 22, 80), LF Luke Nixon (.260, 14, 29), CF Eli Serrano III (.297, 9, 39), RF Noah Soles (.221, 5, 22), DH Alex Sosa (.226, 6, 24). Starting pitchers: RHP Sam Highfill (7-2, 5.06 ERA), Dominic Fritton (3-6, 7.35), RHP Logan Whitaker (3-1, 6.06). Relievers: RHP Jacob Dudan (4-2, 4.40), RHP Derrick Smith (3-1, 4.50), RHP Andrew Shaffner (0-0, 5.56), LHP Ryan Marohn (4-2, 3.97), RHP Hollis Fanning (2-1, 7.41), RHP Carson Kelly (1-0, 9.64), RHP Shane Van Dam (4-0, 4.58), LHP Cooper Consiglio (5-4, 4.97), RHP Jaxon Lucas (1-0, 9.43).

MLB Alumni: Carlos Rodon, Trea Turner, Andrew Knizner, Mike Caldwell, Dan Plesac, Tim Stoddard, Greg Briley.

Short hops: Third CWS appearance since 2013. The 2021 Wolfpack were one win away from making the finals when the NCAA removed them from the CWS because of COVID-19 protocols. ... Their .332 team batting average in NCAA Tournament is best among CWS teams. ... Alec Makarewicz has five of his team's 17 doubles in the tournament. ... Pennington hit two of his four NCAA Tournament home runs in super regionals.

Quotable: “Not that it ever gets old going to Omaha. Yes, I want to go again. Yes, I want to eat at the Drover restaurant. I've kept that menu up probably three weeks.” — Avent, referring to the iconic Omaha steakhouse.

Kentucky (45-14)

Coach: Nick Mingione (261-164 in eight years at Kentucky and overall).

Road to Omaha: Won Lexington Regional: beat Western Michigan 10-8, beat Illinois 6-1, beat Indiana State 5-0. Won Lexington Super Regional: beat Oregon State 10-0, beat Oregon State 3-2.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 3-3 (1-2 vs. Tennessee, 2-1 vs. Florida).

Last CWS appearance: First appearance.

All-time record in CWS: 0-0.

Meet the Wildcats: C Devin Burkes (.250, 3 HRs, 35 RBIs), 1B Ryan Nicholson (.299, 21, 61), 2B Emilien Pitre (.298, 9, 56), SS Grant Smith (.248, 5, 34), 3B Mitchell Daly (.302, 6, 44), LF Ryan Waldschmidt (.346, 14, 46), CF Nolan McCarthy (.286, 7, 39), RF James McCoy (.228, 6, 25), DH Nick Lopez (.350, 6, 50). Starting pitchers: RHP Trey Pooser (7-1, 3.46 ERA), RHP Mason Moore (9-3, 4.93), LHP Dominic Niman (8-2, 6.24). Relievers: LHP Jackson Nove (1-0, 5.46), RHP Cameron O’Brien (3-0, 3.94), RHP Robert Hogan (1-0, 2.58), RHP Ryan Hagenow (2-0, 1.96), RHP Johnny Hummel (3-0, 3.49, 7 saves), LHP Evan Byers (3-1, 5.32).

MLB Alumni: Jeff Abbott, Joe Blanton, Kyle Cody, Sean Hjelle, Paul Kilgus, Jason Kipnis, Jim Leyritz, James Paxton, JT Riddle, Chris Rusin, Terry Shumpert, Mark Thompson, Brandon Webb.

Short hops: The Wildcats tied with Tennessee for the SEC regular-season title. ... 45 wins ties for the most in school history (2012). The Wildcats have consecutive 40-win seasons for first time. ... Their 2.00 team ERA and 4.6 hits allowed per nine innings in NCAA Tournament rank first. ... Pitchers have allowed four runs over the last 39 innings.

Quotable: “You know you’re confident in getting (to Omaha) with your squad. But, man, when it actually happens, it’s like you look around and you’re like, ‘We’re going to Omaha!' It’s crazy. It’s crazy.” — Burkes.

Texas A&M (49-13)

Coach: Jim Schlossnagle (131-60 in three seasons at Texas A&M; 942-453 in 23 seasons overall).

Road to Omaha: Won College Station regional: beat Grambling 8-0, beat Texas 4-2 in 11 innings, beat Louisiana-Lafayette 9-7. Won College Station Super Regional: beat Oregon 10-6, beat Oregon 15-9.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 1-3 (1-2 vs. Florida, 0-1 vs. Tennessee).

Last CWS appearance: 2022.

All-time record in CWS: 4-14 in 7 appearances.

Meet the Aggies: C Jackson Appel (.330, 10 HRs, 40 RBIs), 1B Ted Burton (.295, 9, 43), 2B Kaeden Kent (.302, 3, 21), SS Ali Camarillo (.297, 7, 35), 3B Gavin Grahovac (.306, 22, 63), LF Caden Sorrell (.264, 10, 36), CF Travis Chestnut (.272, 12, 41), RF Jace LaViolette (.314, 28, 77), DH Hayden Schott (.331, 8, 59). Starting pitchers: LHP Ryan Prager (8-1, 3.10 ERA), LHP Shane Sdao (5-1, 2.96), RHP Justin Lamkin (2-2, 5.73) or RHP Brad Rudis (6-0, 2.29). Relievers: RHP Chris Cortez (9-3, 2.83), RHP Tanner Jones (3-1, 6.33), RHP Brock Peery (2-1, 3.60), LHP Kaiden Wilson (0-1, 8.31), RHP Zane Badmaey (3-0, 2.70), LHP Evan Aschenbeck (6-1, 1.66).

MLB Alumni: Davey Johnson, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Livingstone, A.J. Minter, Doug Rau, Ross Stripling, Mark Thurmond, Michael Wacha.

Short hops: The Aggies will be without projected top-five draft pick Braden Montgomery, who broke his right ankle in the super regional opener. ... The Aggies have drawn a nation-high 396 walks. ... Their pitching staff leads the country with 11 shutouts. ... Travis Chestnut leads NCAA Tournament with four of the Aggies' 13 stolen bases. ... Aschenbeck's 1.66 ERA and 0.80 WHIP are the best in the country. ... Schlossnagle is among 13 coaches to lead multiple schools to a CWS. He led TCU to five CWS.

Quotable: “I never take it for granted. Nolan Ryan went to the World Series his rookie year and never went back. I'll remind our players of that. You never know when you'll get a chance to go back. I've never been part of the championship series or won it, so I'd like to do that.” — Schlossnagle.

Florida (34-28)

Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan (715-347 in 17 years).

Road to Omaha: Won Stillwater Regional: beat Nebraska 5-2, lost to Oklahoma State 7-1, beat Nebraska 17-11, beat Oklahoma State 5-2, beat Oklahoma State 4-2. Won Clemson Super Regional: beat Clemson 10-7, beat Clemson 11-10 in 13 innings.

2024 record vs. CWS teams: 4-8 (0-3 vs. Florida State, 2-1 vs. Texas A&M, 1-2 vs. Tennessee, 1-2 vs. Kentucky).

Last CWS appearance: 2023.

All-time record in CWS: 25-26 in 13 appearances (won national title in 2017).

Meet the Gators: C Brody Donay (.250, 12 HRs, 27 RBIs), 1B Jac Caglianone (.411, 33, 68) or Luke Heyman (.247, 16, 49), 2B Cade Kurland (.251, 14, 41), SS Colby Shelton (.257, 20, 55), 3B Dale Thomas (.228, 3, 20), LF Tyler Shelnut (.264, 15, 50), CF Michael Robertson (.255, 2, 25), RF Ashton Wilson (.327, 2, 14), DH Heyman or Donay. Starting pitchers: LHP Pierce Coppola (0-4, 9.16 ERA), RHP Liam Peterson (3-4, 5.97), LHP Jac Caglianone (5-2, 4.71). Relievers: RHP Jameson Fisher (5-0, 4.35), LHP Cade Fisher (3-3, 7.24), RHP Brandon Neely (3-4, 5.45), RHP Jake Clemente (2-0, 5.68), LHP Frank Menendez (1-0, 4.96), RHP Luke McNeillie (4-6, 7.20), RHP Ryan Slater (5-2, 6.70), RHP Blake Purnell (0-0, 7.78).

MLB alumni: Pete Alonso, Harrison Bader, David Eckstein, Mark Ellis, Dalton Guthrie, Jonathan India, A.J. Puk, David Ross, Brady Singer, Mike Stanley, Brad Wilkerson, Mike Zunino.

Short hops: The Gators' .548 winning percentage is tied for lowest by a team entering the CWS. Bradley was 17-14 (.548) entering the 1950 CWS. ... Caglianone's 73 career homers are two behind active leader Tommy White of LSU. ... O’Sullivan has led Gators to Omaha in nine of last 14 postseasons. ... The Gators are 36-0 in their last 36 NCAA Tournament games in which they have owned a multi-run lead in the seventh inning or later, according to ESPN.

Quotable: “Going through the struggles and having every game matter the last two or three weeks of the year probably toughed us up a little bit.” — O’Sullivan.

College World Series might offer glimpse of future with only SEC and ACC teams in the field

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The College World Series begins this week and only two conferences will be represented on the game's biggest stage for the first time since the event expanded to eight teams in 1950.

The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference each are sending four teams, the SEC for the fourth time since 2015 and seventh overall and the ACC for the first time since 2006.

Their exclusivity this year hints at an even greater concentration of power in the sport as college athletics moves into an era where players, already able to transfer around freely, can make more money than ever, scholarship limits are likely to be removed and the richest schools pour more resources into facilities.

The CWS opens Friday with an all-ACC matchup between North Carolina (47-14) and Virginia (46-15) and Tennessee (55-12) of the SEC playing Florida State (47-15) of the ACC. Games the next day match Kentucky (45-14) of the SEC against the ACC's North Carolina State (38-21) and Texas A&M (49-13) against Florida (34-28) in an all-SEC meeting.

College baseball has never been better, coaches and administrators say. The shortening of the amateur draft since the pandemic has kept talented older players in school, regular-season television coverage has expanded and attendance has increased.

“I honestly believe we’re probably in a golden age of college baseball right now,” American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Craig Keilitz said.

Beneath the surface, there is concern the transformation of college athletics will further reduce the number of programs capable of competing at the highest level.

Baseball already is top heavy. The SEC has claimed four straight national championships and nine of the last 14, and has had at least one team in 14 of the past 15 finals. Since 2014, 50 of the 80 CWS teams have been from the SEC (31) or ACC (19).

Part of the sport's charm has been the ability of smaller programs to occasionally rise up and challenge the big-name brands, scenes familiar to fans of the March Madness basketball tournaments.

Evansville, which had one of the oldest rosters in the country this year, came within one win of going to Omaha by extending its super regional against No. 1 national seed Tennessee to three games. Oral Roberts made it to the CWS last year and won a game. Stony Brook was here along with Kent State in 2012. Coastal Carolina, then in the Big South, won the national title in 2016.

“Those are the teams you root for,” Cal State Fullerton coach Jason Dietrich said. “Not to say you don't root for the other schools, but you love the underdog, the teams that don’t have the bells and whistles.”

TRANSFERS AND TENDER

As with other sports, the transfer portal and athletes' ability to earn endorsement money through name, image and likeness deals have turned baseball on its head.

Florida State, Kentucky and Texas A&M each went into their super regionals with five players in their everyday lineups who started at other Division I schools. The number was two for North Carolina, NC State and Tennessee and one for Virginia.

Kentucky had the most D-I transfers on its roster with 12; NC State had the fewest with five.

Baseball receives only 4.8% of overall NIL spending, according to Opendorse, and is far behind the top three sports — football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The top 25 NIL earners in baseball are making an average of $45,000 per year.

But with most players receiving a partial scholarship because of the current NCAA limit of 11.7 per team, any income helps offset cost of attendance. Schools offering the most NIL money through their donors naturally get the best players.

Since July 1, 2021, the average estimated annual NIL spending per SEC baseball team was $820,000 to $920,000, based on more than 150,000 NIL transactions disclosed through or processed by Opendorse, a company that works with dozens of schools and more than 40 collectives on NIL activities. A number of SEC teams are said to be spending well into the millions.

The average NIL spending in the ACC is half that of the SEC but still ranks second among all conferences.

If scholarship limits are removed, which is the expectation, deep-pocketed programs could choose to fully fund their programs.

This year, each program can divvy up 11.7 scholarships among 32 players. If all 32 get full rides in the future, the chasm between the haves and have-nots in the sport surely will deepen. And there could be additional money for baseball players in the major conferences as part of the revenue-sharing plan proposed in the NCAA's antitrust case settlement.

RIPPLE EFFECTS

Dietrich grew up in Southern California and remembers when the small-budget Titans were one of college baseball's best programs. Fullerton has appeared in 18 CWS, most recently in 2017, and won four national titles, tied for fifth most.

Dietrich can't offer the amenities of the major-conference schools and must recruit players who often need a year or two of seasoning. Fullerton has smaller NIL money available compared with larger programs, so Dietrich is susceptible to losing the players he develops and can land larger endorsement deals elsewhere.

Fullerton went to an NCAA regional last year but lost three starting position players and its best reliever to the draft and then had another everyday starter and a bullpen arm join five teammates in the transfer portal. The Titans were 16-38 this season.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Dietrich said. “Our goal is to go to Omaha and compete for a national championship. We see there are some obstacles ahead, but that’s just the way it is.”

Big Ten-bound UCLA is one of the biggest brands on the West Coast but has struggled since making a regional in 2022. Eleven players went into the portal the next two cycles, and most were difference-makers like pitchers Thatcher Hurd and Gage Jump (both to LSU).

Personnel losses to the portal and the draft left Bruins coach John Savage relying on one of the most freshmen-heavy rosters in the country. He noted the physical mismatch between his 18-year-old freshmen against the opponent's 24-year-old seniors. The result was a last-place finish in the Pac-12 this year.

Retiring Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said he's not against the idea of NIL money for athletes. He is against the lack of guardrails around it, especially with booster-funded collectives at the big schools spending freely and rules that allow players to transfer as often as they like without penalty.

“If Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL had a system where everyone was a free agent every year, do you realize what chaos it would be?” Gilmore said. “If you did it in baseball, it would be the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Texas. The rest of the teams couldn’t compete. That’s what is going on right now. There’s not a level playing field.”