FAYETTEVILLE — It seems the national obsession with national championships is demeaning conference crowns.
It hit home last weekend in Arkansas.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, coach Chris Bucknam’s men’s Razorbacks and coach Lance Harter’s women’s Razorbacks won their SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
In baseball at Baum-Walker Stadium, coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks won 2 of 3 over South Carolina.
Going into this Thursday-Saturday SEC baseball envelope, Arkansas, which is 38-13 overall, closes to Vanderbilt while standing alone 19-8 atop the SEC. The Razorbacks are perched a game and a half ahead of 17-9 runner-up LSU West, and overall one game over SEC leader East Florida, who is 18-9, and two over runner-up East 17-10 Vanderbilt.
Harter, retiring at the end of this outdoor season, and Bucknam had only moments to digest the SEC Outdoor win over their 2023 SEC and NCAA Indoor crowns when asked about the NCAA championships. Outdoor next month in Austin, Texas.
It’s not winning the SEC, but can the Van Horn Razorbacks qualify for the College World Series that weighs the most on the minds of Arkansas baseball?
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Comparing apples and oranges should include comparing winning national championships and conference championships. These days, he seems to compare filet mignon to leftover spam.
Heavy focuses on basketball’s Final Four, football playoffs, college baseball World Series, and NCAA track championships.
Winning the national championship is an ultimate.
But it seems like winning the weekly grind of the SEC bastion of baseball or winning a full-depth team track meet like the SEC track vs. purely elite elites meets the NCAA also marks major accomplishments. .
LSU rightfully celebrates winning the Women’s National Basketball Championship.
Does that reduce SEC/SEC Tournament champion South Carolina to 36-1, including LSU by 24?
If the injury-plagued Van Horn Hogs win the SEC but don’t move to Omaha, does that ruin their season?
Arkansas’ Three Most National Championship-Winning Coaches Rebut, “No!”
The late John McDonnell was as proud to win 84 SEC Cross-Country-Indoor-Outdoor Track Championships as his unprecedented 40 Official NCAA Cross-Country-Indoor-Outdoor Championships.
Bucknam, head coach to 29 SEC championships and two national championships with his No. 1-ranked outdoor Hogs in 2023, is testament to that.
“What we’re doing at Arkansas started with Coach McDonnell back then,” he told the SEC Network after overwhelming runners-up LSU 149-89. “He told me when I took over that ‘Hey, those [conference] championships mean a lot. It was his favorite thing to win. This involves everyone in our team.
A Hall of Famer like of course McDonnell, Harter, with 45 three-sport SEC championships aiming for his eighth national championship next month, said this SEC Outdoor has become especially special. Last year, Florida Outdoors broke the chain of 10 wins for its Hogs in Cross Country-Indoor-Outdoor.
“It got stuck in our throat,” Harter said.
The 134-112 sticking out of Florida at Baton Rouge made Harter’s eyes shine like a Nationals win.
Their apples and oranges don’t contrast like filet mignon and leftover spam.