Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill: South Carolina must ‘pony up’ to compete in today’s era of college baseball

When South Carolina decides on its next head baseball coach, it won’t just be a small financial decision. It won’t just come down to how much money it costs to hire the new coach. It’s a much bigger investment that goes beyond one paycheck.

For the Gamecocks, they are in a conference where almost every program is meeting their standards, or in some cases, ahead of them. The SEC set a record this season by sending 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. And it’s hard not to argue that most of those schools are in better shape than South Carolina.

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In recent years, several programs have invested money not only in hiring new coaches, but also in improving their facilities. Across the league, there are nine programs that pay their coach more than $1 million. And South Carolina wasn’t one of them when Mark Kingston was in charge.

“I mean, it’s crucial. You look around and head coaching salary is probably a poor measure of how invested a program is. There are probably better measures. But it’s quick and easy,” Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill said during the GamecockCentral Takeover Hour on 107.5 The Game.

“And if we sit here and talk about how does South Carolina come back? Well, that’s a big part of it. If you’re in the bottom half of the league salary-wise right now, what else are you in the bottom half that takes me a little longer to look up? Where do you stand on the total coaching salary pool? Where do you stand in terms of what is available for NIL and so on down the list. So I mean, I think investments are critical.”

As for the money in the program, South Carolina built Founders Park in 2009. At the time, it was a more than $35 million facility with a capacity for more than 8,000 fans. Even now you could say it still holds up. But that was fifteen years ago.

And while that may not seem like that long ago, it is when you look around the SEC. For example, after Florida won the College World Series in 2017, a new stadium was built and completed in time for the 2021 season. That ended up being a $65 million investment.

Even in Tennessee, Lindsey Nelson Stadium has been around since the early 1990s. And since then, the university has made renovations over the years to improve the facilities. The latest development is upgrades to the ballpark that will cost more than $100 million.

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One common factor between these two examples? Both are winning programs, as is South Carolina. Only they are reaping the rewards of investing money in the product with multiple performances in Omaha.

If South Carolina wants to be competitive in the future, investments will have to be made, according to Cahill.

“That’s just the reality of SEC baseball in the 2020s. You have to be willing to pony up if you want to compete with the likes of Texas, an LSU, the Mississippi schools care as much about what Arkansas and Florida are doing, Tennessee now , and even Kentucky,” Cahill said. “You look at them, a new stadium hosting a Super Regional for the first time. These are all schools that have become serious or have been serious for a long time and have remained really serious. It’s just a really tough competition when it comes to keeping up with the financial might that everyone else is throwing at it.

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