Now I’m just going to gloss over this because I haven’t looked at a bunch of data on it but Georgia has made a change its baseball players and coaches believe could make a huge difference.
The Bulldogs — who open the season Friday against Youngstown State — will be allowed to use Easton bats this year. To hear a lot of them talk about it, not having that luxury may have cost them the national championship against Easton-swinging Fresno State in the College World Series finals last June.
I talked to athletics director Damon Evans about the switch Wednesday night before the Georgia-Auburn basketball game. Clearly he’s not sold on the premise that Easton’s composite bats are markedly better than Nike’s bats. According to him, there is no scientific data to support that hypothesis. And the Bulldogs did hit 96 home runs last season with Nike bats, the second-most in school history. Personally I haven’t looked into it enough yet to have a strong opinion either way.
But coach David Perno and his players were passionate in their belief that they needed the technological advantages the Easton bats provide to remain ultra-competitive. That carried enough weight with Evans that he was willing to, well, go to bat for them.
Now keep in mind, this is a thorny issue. UGA is a Nike school. It gets paid millions of dollars by Nike to use it’s equipment exclusively, which the sporting goods giant provides generously for all 20 sports the Bulldogs field. So this wasn’t a little thing for Evans. It required some phone calls and some negotiating and more than a little research to find out who was doing what nationally.
In the end, Evans said, “Nike was kind enough to work with us on this.” So Georgia is using Easton bats, for now just for this one season. But it still has Nike bats, too, and it’s up to the players to decide which one they want to swing.
Word is it’s 10-to-1 Easton. If they want to keep them the Bulldogs best hit 100 homers.
Couple o’ links:
Here’s a nice little story on former Bulldogs David Greene and Matt Stinchcomb visiting some older alums over in Augusta. . . .
The Sporting News unveiled an interesting ranking system designed to determine which schools do the most with the least amount of talent. Spoiler alert: Cincinnati was No. 1.