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December 4, 2007

Rivals Five: Top Overall Programs

Just a few seasons ago, programs such as LSU and Stanford were kings of college baseball. Now Oregon State is in control.

What coach Pat Casey has accomplished in Corvallis, Ore., is astonishing. But amazingly enough, the Beavers probably aren't finished causing headaches for opposing teams.

While OSU leads the charge, West Coast foe Cal State Fullerton is close behind. The Titans are followed by the Lone Star State duo of Texas and Rice.

The Titans won the national title in 2004, while Rice captured the 2003 title. Texas has won two titles 2002 and 2005 this decade.

The somewhat surprising inclusion to our elite list is North Carolina. The Tar Heels haven't been able to capture a national title the past two seasons, but the state of the program is strong.

We take an inside look at the nation's top programs.

TOP PROGRAMS SERIES: West Coast | Southwest | Heartland | Midwest | Southeast

What a last five years it has been for coach Pat Casey and the Oregon State program. Once considered an afterthought on the West Coast, the Beavers now have the nation's top program. OSU first made a statement in 2005, as they made the first of three-straight College World Series berths. The Beavers took their game to another level in 2006 by capturing the school's first national title. Just when you thought OSU might endure a slight decline, they silenced all doubters by capturing another national title last season. With the Beavers recruiting at a high level and confidence at an all-time high, the program should continue to experience a high level of success.
1. Oregon State
It was Augie Garrido. Then it was George Horton. Now Dave Serrano is in charge of continuing the Titan tradition. Cal State Fullerton has been one of the nation's top programs for years. However, its run the past five seasons is nothing short of amazing. Not only have the Titans reached the College World Series four of the last five seasons, they also captured another national title in 2004 by beating Texas in the CWS Finals. The Titans have reached the 50-win mark twice in the last five seasons. Even in the year they failed to get to Omaha (2005), they reached the Super Regional round. When it comes to consistency, few programs can match the Titan tradition.
2. CS Fullerton
Much like Cal State Fullerton, the Longhorns have shown consistency during the Augie Garrido era. Though Texas has failed to reach the CWS the past two seasons, it still managed to win a pair of Big 12 titles. The 'Horns most recently captured the 2005 national title with an impressive 56-16 overall record. In 2004, Texas reached the CWS Finals, but lost to Fullerton in disappointing fashion. Looking back, the Longhorns made a CWS appearance in 2003 before capturing their first national crown this decade in 2002. Overall, UT has reached the 50-win mark on three occasions the past five seasons. They're also expected to be a national contender in '08.
3. Texas
The similarities between Rice and Texas are striking. Both teams have reached the CWS three of the last five seasons. They've also each won 50 games on three occasions. The only difference between the two programs is head-to-head. Looking closer at the Owls, what they've accomplished the past five seasons is nothing short of amazing. The Owls have won 56 and 57 games, respectively, the last two seasons. They also captured the school's first baseball national title in 2003. In addition to their diamond success, the Rice coaching staff has done a great job of developing talent. You could call Rice Pitcher U. They should be a national title contender in '08.
4. Rice
What a difference a few years make. North Carolina was once a program with a name and nothing to show for it. However, the tide has turned in impressive fashion during the past few seasons. Not only have the Tar Heels become one of the nation's elite, they've also made their mark in Omaha. The Tar Heels made waves by reaching the CWS Finals two seasons ago. They made an even bigger statement by attaining the same goal last season. In addition to competing at a high level, UNC has established consistency something they used to lack. With Mike Fox and his coaching staff continuing to recruit at a high level, the program's future remains bright.
5. North Carolina

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at kendall@rivals.com.