Red Wolves howling about FAU’s title
By now most everyone knows the story on how FAU clinched the outright Sun Belt Conference championship on Saturday.
After winning a share of the title on Friday, FAU came to FAU Stadium on Saturday to try and win the outright championship vs. FIU. However, if the Owls lost to the Panthers and Arkansas State defeated UALR, the championship would be shared, although FAU had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament since the Owls held the tiebreaker vs. Arkansas State.
Unfortunately, rain began falling in Boca Raton just before the game was supposed to start. FAU players scrambled to get the field covered with the tarp, but lightning in the area halted their efforts (an NCAA rule prohibits players from putting the tarp if there is lightning present.)
So the Owls and Panthers waited and waited and eventually the game was cancelled, meaning Arkansas State could not catch FAU in the standings.
And that’s when the Red Wolves really began to howl as allegations that FAU somehow had something to do with the downpour that fell.
Here’s a few examples…
While I would expect Arkansas State fans to make a fuss, it should be noted that Zach Maggio is a player on the ASU baseball team and Brad Bobo is a high-ranking staff member of the ASU Athletics Department. In fact, Bobo is listed as the Director of New Media, which would make it seem as though the rant may be the official stance of the athletic department - indicating they feel that there was some sort of gamesmanship with the rain-out on Saturday and the field was intentionally put in a condition by FAU so the game would be called.
Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. I talked with FAU coach John McCormack about the circumstances surrounding the cancellation and it sounds like the Owls had little to do with the game being called.
McCormack cited a Sun Belt Conference rule for the last game of a series that says a game can’t be started 90 minutes after the first pitch was scheduled. After consulting FIU coach Turtle Thomas, McCormack called the league office and asked for a waiver of that rule since FIU takes a bus to Boca Raton and therefore wasn’t under a tight deadline to catch a flight back home.
The Sun Belt office, however, said it could not allow the rule to be waived in immediate fashion. Therefore, by Sun Belt rule, the game was canceled 90 minutes after the 1 p.m. scheduled time for the first pitch. It sure isn’t as exciting as any conspiracy theory, but instead sounds like FAU did every thing it could do – and more - to play the game.
"In those instances you are always worried that people think you are trying to cajole things for your own good, but that's not the case,” McCormack said. “There was nothing we could do because the rule is the rule.”
This certainly was one of the closest races in Sun Belt history and perhaps the league office should examine its rules on rainouts. I also think that FAU definitely needs a new tarp to better protect its field.
However, FAU’s championship wasn’t won because of the rain - it was won because the Owls had a higher winning percentage. The standings say Arkansas State only finished a half game behind FAU, but after some reactions of people affiliated with the ASU program it seems like the gap is a bit more than that in terms of class.
Owl Access Links
FAU Baseball: Owls going with Garton to start SBC Tournament opener
FAU Baseball: Owls land three on All-Sun Belt first team
Hilltoppers open tourney against FAU tonight (Bowling Green Daily News)
Jeremy Sy wins Sun Belt Player of the Year (Monroe News-Star)