Cleary: The Pac-12 is the SEC of Baseball

Diamond Dominance: How the Conference of Champions Measures up

Posted on January 14, 2020

James Cleary
  By James Cleary, SportsPac12

Each December during the College Football Playoff Era, we’ve been forced to labor through the inevitable conversations of how many—not which—SEC teams are going to make the playoffs. Multiple pundits spout off on how the SEC deserves as least two, if not three, entrants. 

Never mind that the second team either missed the conference championship game completely or lost it to the SEC team already in the playoffs. 

But, frankly, if we’re going to be honest here, the SEC probably deserves it more often than not. 

Since its formation in 1932, the Southeast Conference has won the national championship an impressive 33% of the time. Dating back to 2000, it has won a total of 10 NCAA football championships. That leaves only nine years in the past 20 where an SEC team wasn’t on top at the end of the season. 

But what if I were to tell you that the Conference of Champions is the SEC of the baseball world? 

As impressive as the SEC’s football championship winning percentage has been, the Pac-12’s winning percentage in baseball tops it, having won a whopping 40% of the time. 

In the 72-year history of the College World Series (CWS), a Pac-12 school has won 29 times. SEC baseball comes in a distant second with 12. 

USC head coach Jason Gill huddles his team. | USC Athletics

When looking at the number of appearances in the College World Series finals, Pac-12 teams hold three of the top four spots: 

  • USC has made 14 appearances and won 12
  • ASU has made 10 appearances and won 5
  • Arizona has made 8 appearances and won 4

Texas breaks up the trio with 12 appearances and 6 wins. In total wins at the CWS, the Pac-12 holds three of the top five spots:

  • USC ranks 2nd with 74 wins
  • ASU ranks 3rd with 61 wins
  • Arizona ranks 5th with 43 wins

Beyond winning championships, the Pac-12 has been consistently represented in the CWS. The Conference has had at least one team play in Omaha in 17 of the last 20 years. 

Currently, of the Pac-12’s 11 teams—Colorado doesn’t field a baseball squad—nine are ranked in D1 Baseball’s Top 100 Programs list, with the Beavers leading the way at No. 6. 

The Pac-12 may not be the juggernaut that SEC football has been in the past two decades, but its ownership of the diamond has been unmatched. 

And with the emergence of Northwest teams such as Oregon State in recent years, and even Washington in 2018, there is a good chance the Pac-12 will continue its dominance in the near future. 

Granted, the Pac-12 hasn’t won 10 NCAA baseball championships since the turn of the century, only five. But from an historical perspective, the Conference is unmatched in its college baseball dominance.

Texas breaks up the trio with 12 appearances and 6 wins. In total wins at the CWS, the Pac-12 holds three of the top five spots: 

Texas has the most CWS wins at 85 and Miami sits in 4th with 48. 

While the three southern schools have had the most historical success, Oregon State has transformed into the conference powerhouse by winning three titles since 2006. 

The Beavers also fielded one of the best ever college baseball teams in terms of winning percentage in 2017, but came up short in Omaha. Arizona and UCLA are the other two schools that have taken home the trophy in the 2000s.

Beyond winning championships, the Pac-12 has been consistently represented in the CWS. The Conference has had at least one team play in Omaha in 17 of the last 20 years. 

Currently, of the Pac-12’s 11 teams—Colorado doesn’t field a baseball squad—nine are ranked in D1 Baseball’s Top 100 Programs list, with the Beavers leading the way at No. 6. 

The Pac-12 may not be the juggernaut that SEC football has been in the past two decades, but its ownership of the diamond has been unmatched. 

And with the emergence of Northwest teams such as Oregon State in recent years, and even Washington in 2018, there is a good chance the Pac-12 will continue its dominance in the near future.




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