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Florida, Vanderbilt Start 2011 College World Series Play Worlds Apart

If Vanderbilt and Florida are able to win their first round match-ups of the College World Series today, they'll meet in a second round rematch of last month's SEC Tournament. But don't expect a blood feud.

Despite conference traditions (say, the ninth inning of last week's Florida-Mississippi State Super Regional), the burgeoning 'Dores/Gators "rivalry" is destined to be a chummy affair, as Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan and Commodore skipper Tim Corbin are buddies from their days on the Clemson coaching staff. If you think Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fischer are unreasonably friendly, GatorZone

"Me, Jack [Legget, Clemson head coach] and Tim still stay in contact on a week-to-week basis. They’re like family. It goes well beyond the baseball side of things,’’ O’Sullivan said. "I don’t enjoy playing Tim. I know, No. 1, his team is going to be very prepared and it’s not going to be easy, but No. 2, you just hate to see anybody lose.

"That’s where your heart gets involved.’’

(Plus things would get-hella awkward around the offseason sewing circle, and not finishing this quilt before Fall Ball practice would be SUCH a disappointment.)

If anyone's "heart" should be involved, it's the Commodore fan base, whose team is in the CWS for the first time in school history; a feat that, if resulting in a national title, could be the best season for any Vandy sports team in school history. That's unlike Florida, who's making their seventh trip to Omaha since 1988. Believe it or not, the Gators are looking for their first national championship (yes, in baseball) and will start play tonight with a  seasoned Texas program that swept UF in the 2005 CWS FInal.

Florida was also swept out of Omaha last season and hasn't actually won a CWS game since that '05 campaign - meaning they're good, not great, but if the second seeded Diamond Gators were to take home the title, it would be school's fifth national championship in a "big three" sport since 2006. That's a stat that, offhand, sounds like the first of its kind in college sports history. 

Given South Carolina's 2010 CWS title and the Boston-izing of Gator fans' ennui, Vanderbilt looks to be the clear choice for any SEC loyalist looking for a rooting interest in Omaha.

For coverage of all things Florida, check out Alligator Army. For Vanderbilt, visit Anchor Of Gold.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.