Before the 2013 season, many people wondered if MSU baseball was truly back to the level it operated at throughout parts of the 80s and 90s. A preseason ranking as high as fifth seemed to indicate such, but the season loomed, and much was left to prove before State's beloved program could be given such a distinction. Thankfully, the 2013 season would prove to be almost better than imaginable, as the Bulldogs rode a magical run all the way to a national championship appearance.
With the program back in the national picture, it's now apparent that John Cohen and his staff are very serious about making MSU baseball a national brand once again. With the baseball off-season in stride, Cohen and his staff are already out scheduling big time non-conference games for future seasons to come. In an interview with GenesPage.com yesterday, Director of Baseball Operations Tyler Bratton told Gene that the Bulldogs would face baseball powers UCLA, USC, and Oregon all in the 2016 season:
Bratton told Gene Swindoll that State would be playing in the Dodgertown Classic out west in the 2016 season, where they will face off with UCLA and USC. The event will be in its seventh season in 2016; last season, Notre Dame joined USC, UCLA, and Oklahoma for the event, which was held at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The event will move back to newly renovated Dodger Stadium next year, and should be there for State's trip in 2016. Talk about a trip worth making.
Also in the 2016 season, State will welcome in a huge, HUGE home series against the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks, who are heading into their sixth year of baseball since the program's revival under George Horton, have quickly established themselves on the national baseball scene behind Horton and the deep pockets of Phil Knight (seriously, check out the facilities). That will be one of the biggest home non conference series' that I can remember in some time, probably since #11 Baylor came to town and swept State in 2007.
There's a lot of other good schedule information in that talk on GenesPage, including details on State playing in another big name tournament in the next few seasons..
All in all, I'm impressed with this effort by the coaching staff. With RPI becoming a bigger consideration for teams in the running for hosting regionals and garnering national seeds, having these types of opportunities on the schedule go a long way towards providing State with an opportunity to prove themselves as a national contender for years to come.