When TCU and Florida meet on Sunday, it will be a matchup of two teams building long histories at the College World Series but missing a championship.
Florida has been going to Omaha for almost 30 years.
TCU, for close to a decade.
Florida got close twice, losing in the championship final in 2005 and 2011.
TCU had its best shot last season, losing two semifinal games out of the winners bracket to the eventual champion.
They were painful moments for both teams.
“I know everybody wants your team to win the last game of the year, but when you’re one of the last eight teams standing, I can’t look at this as a failure, and I don’t want our players to feel that way either,” O’Sullivan said Friday at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park. “There’s no question we would love to win the first national championship at Florida. But I never look back on the season and say, ‘That was a failure.’ Because it’s so hard to get to this point.”
“I can’t say it any better than Sully said it,” the 14th-year TCU coach said. “It doesn’t matter how many times you’re here, you respect how hard it is to get here.”
Florida State (22 appearances), Texas A&M (six appearances) and Louisville (four appearances) are also seeking their first national titles as they begin play in the 2017 event.
“I know we’ve been here six of our last eight years, but it’s not easy,” O’Sullivan said. “I do not want the players to feel pressure. There’s no pressure from me. I think the thing to keep in mind and remember is just getting to this point is a success.”
Schlossnagle said last year’s exit in the College World Series “really, really hurt,” but he does not call it a bad experience.
“I’ve never, ever had a bad day here, and I refuse to allow our players to have a bad day,” Schlossnagle said. “They’ve earned the right to play in this awesome experience, and we’re just going to enjoy the heck out of it.”
Florida is a traditional college baseball power, 26th all-time in winning percentage coming into the season. The Gators have averaged 44 wins in O’Sullivan’s 10 years as head coach.
TCU is a recent power, its 361 victories the seventh most since 2010 in college baseball. The Frogs have missed the NCAA tournament only once in the past 14 years.
“That’s what you want to become over the course of time, is a consistent winner at a high level,” Schlossnagle said. “I think the university has committed to the program — I know they’ve committed to the program. And when you have a high level of commitment, if you do the work — and it’s not always perfect, you’re going to have your down time; to be in Omaha every year, that’s crazy. But we should be a consistent NCAA tournament team, and I think we have.”
Only one of the last eight College World Series has been played without Florida or TCU. The Frogs and Gators are the only teams with five CWS appearances this decade.
But Sunday will be their first meeting ever.
It was probably about time.
Maybe for that first championship, as well. For one team or the other.
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 4 Florida
6 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2
College World Series, Omaha, Neb.