M is for Moneyball
♦ Moneyball, SEC-style: How the CWS final became the SEC Championship Series (al.com)
Until 1990, the SEC had never won baseball's national title. This is the SEC's ninth in the past 22 years; the next-closest are the Big 8/Big 12 and Pac-10 with three each.
Like most shifts in college sports, money changed baseball. The SEC understood that warm weather coupled with fertile recruiting areas meant money could be made on baseball. So the SEC, never shy to spend, went on a shopping spree for coaches, facilities and recruiting budgets.
In 2009-10, the SEC averaged a nation-best $571,022 in operating expenses per team, according to financial data reported to the U.S. Department of Education. This is a league in which eight of its 12 members have been to Omaha in the past decade. (Only Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky haven't gone.)
The SEC, Pac-10, Big 12 and ACC have produced 15 of the 18 championship participants since the best-of-three format started in 2003. Average operating expenses for those other leagues: Big 12 ($535,834); Pac-10 ($478,070); and ACC ($388,073).♦ 2010 SEC baseball coaches' contracts (al.com). Compare Tim Jamieson's current contract (which extends through 2013).
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Yet nothing's stopping the Big Ten from investing more into baseball. The 10 Big Ten schools playing baseball averaged $288,948 in operating expenses in 2009-10. Ice hockey, a popular Northern sport, averaged $660,903 in operating expenses by the five Big Ten-hockey schools.
You get what you pay for.
♦ The Birmingham Press-Register did a 2009 story on the Cost of Recruiting in the SEC.
These figures are a couple of years old, but they offer a glimpse at what the SEC is spending on baseball recruiting (Vanderbilt, as a private institution, was not required to report details):
Ole Miss: $43,921
S. Carolina: $42,164
Miss. State: $23,325
Ole Miss: $42,460
S. Carolina: $31,804
Miss. State: $18,342
S. Carolina: $53,196
Ole Miss: $46,868
Miss. State: $26,518
Ole Miss: $44,416
S. Carolina: $42,388
Miss. State: $22,728