In listening to local talk radio today, there’s a common theme: Why do so many fans seem to dislike Darin Erstad and what expectations do they have that he is not meeting? I thought one media member put it well when he said the typical fan pays the most attention (or only pays attention) in late May/early June and sees a team that falls short when it matters most. That’s probably true. I certainly have had conversations today about Saturday’s game with co-workers who haven’t mentioned Nebraska baseball all season. I don’t think that describes most of the Erstad grumbling on this board, though. Most of us pay attention year-round. Here are my expectations of this program based on my past, repeated assertion that Nebraska should settle for nothing less than being the best program in the Big Ten over the long haul. In a 10-year period, Nebraska Baseball should: 1. Make the conference tournament 10 times. 2. Be in the regional at-large conversation in mid-May 9 times. 3. Make a regional 8 times. 4. Be in the regional hosting conversation in mid-May 4 times. 5. Host a regional 2 times. 6. Win a regional 2 times. I don’t think the above expectations are unrealistic and they are nowhere near the standards of 2001-2005 that the local media seem to think is the that to which fans hold this program. It’s basically expecting to consistently be a top 40 team and twice a decade be a top 16 team. So how is the current coaching staff doing against my expectations? If we allow a couple of years to clean up the Anderson mess and start the clock in 2014, slightly below. With all that said, I don’t feel terrible about 1-3. The question is can this staff get to the point where 4-6 are in play? The current state of the program is that we should expect to contend for a regional berth at the start of every season. At least that’s how I feel every year. But we haven’t sniffed hosting a regional or making a super. Can we take the next step? In my opinion, it would only have taken a handful more wins this year: 1. Win one of four vs. Oregon State instead of zero. 2. Hold a seven-run lead vs. Sam Houston. 3. Change three of the eight losses against Minnesota/Iowa/Illinois/Northwestern to wins. Four were one-run/extra-inning losses and two were to Northwestern! 4. Beat Ohio State in Omaha These six extra wins would have meant being regular season and tournament conference champs and probably an RPI in the high teens. That’s a hosting resume and it’s pretty much what Minnesota did in 2018 (although they had a bit better record against a lesser SOS). Heck, take the non-con out entirely and just win three more league games and the tourney and we’d probably still have a shot to host. I don’t think a season like this at least once every 4-5 years is too much to ask. I’ll say it again: Can we take the next step? I don’t know the answer but I know this year’s team wasn’t far from doing so. The flip side is they weren’t very far from falling off the edge, either. An extra loss to Arizona State and another to Michigan and we probably don’t make a regional. This turned into a bit of a novel but I had to get it out there.