The Arizona State baseball team is judged by College World Series appearances and national championships.
For this prestigious program, postseason berths are child's play.
But after a lack of institutional control penalty - including a one-year postseason ban - was handed down in mid-December for improprieties under former coach Pat Murphy, the prospect of cleaning out lockers after the regular-season finale was all too real.
While the school appealed, the team wasn't sure what would happen.
"That was out there all season long," Arizona State coach Tim Esmay said. "Nobody really knew until the Friday before the season was over that we actually were going to get in. Give credit to these kids. They just kept playing baseball."
With the appeal still in motion, the Sun Devils were allowed to join the field of 64, opening up the Tempe Regional as a No. 1 seed against Arkansas, Charlotte and New Mexico.
On the field, it has been business as usual.
Arizona State ended the season 39-16 and finished tied for second with Oregon State in the Pac-10 standings. The Sun Devils were ranked in the top 25 all year and came in at No. 10 in Baseball America's final regular season rankings.
Sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero joined Arizona State from Davie, Fla., drawn in by the school's rich history. The Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year said the team would have been fine only playing through the regular season, but now relishes the chance to get to Omaha.
"When we found out, it was a little sad that we couldn't go," Marrero said. "When we heard we had an opportunity, we took advantage of it. Now we're going to run with it."
This year's team doesn't have the same highlight-reel offense or lock-down pitching of past years, but it's solid in all areas, with a team batting average of .304 and a team ERA of 3.27. Arizona State will be the favorite to win its regional, but may have to travel to Austin, Texas, for a Super Regional against the Longhorns if both teams advance.
The Sun Devils have hosted a Super Regional for the past four campaigns, and was the No. 1 overall seed last year, so this could be considered a slightly down season by their lofty standards.
Another coveted national championship has slipped through the team's fingers each time. The program's last national title came in 1981, long before any current players were born.
For once, Arizona State isn't on the short list of national title contenders. In fact, many thought the Sun Devils would be sitting on their couch for the opening round.
"It was so out of our hands," Esmay said. "We're just going to enjoy this. It's a reprieve for us."
Marrero seemingly made peace with the postseason ban when it came down, and if ASU loses the appeal, he will have to deal with it next season.
But Arizona State has its chance now, and it's looking to take full advantage.
"It's going to be fun, man," Marrero said. "Getting to play in the postseason is the funnest thing. Getting that chance to go back to Omaha, finish up and get a ring - we're going to take advantage of this opportunity."
NCAA Baseball Tempe Regional
Who: No. 1 Arizona State (39-16, 17-10 Pac-10), No. 2 Arkansas (38-20, 15-15 SEC), No. 3 Charlotte (42-14, 17-7 A-10), No. 4 New Mexico (20-39, 14-14 MWC)
Where: Packard Stadium
When: Friday through Monday
Friday’s schedule: Charlotte vs. Arkansas, 2 p.m.; Arizona State vs. New Mexico, 7 p.m.
Live webcast: Foxsportsarizona.com
Outlook: The Sun Devils will be the favorites to advance out of the Tempe Regional. Arizona State will first face off with New Mexico, a team it beat three straight times to open the season. Arizona State hosted Arkansas in a Super Regional last year, beating the Razorbacks on back-to-back days to advance to the College World Series. ASU right-hander Jake Barrett (7-4, 4.14 ERA) hasn’t pitched since leaving his May 15 start against USC in the third inning with an arm injury. Coach Tim Esmay said Barrett threw a bullpen session on Thursday, but his availability for the regional is unknown.