It’s the year for long-time assistant coaches to become head coaches, finally. From Kevin O’Sullivan (Florida) to Jim Toman (Liberty) and the archetype of all assistant coaches/recruiting coordinators, Turtle Thomas (Florida International), athletic directors have shown less fear than usual in giving assistant coaches a chance to take over programs of their own. The latest is Western Carolina, “Cradle of Coaches,” which officially named Bobby Moranda its new head coach Monday. The official press conference will be Thursday.
Moranda leaves the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he’s been an assistant since 1990 between stints at Virginia, Wake Forest and most recently Georgia Tech. Moranda was the chief recruiter at his first two stops and the pitching coach for the Yellow Jackets, helping win three ACC tournament titles with Wake Forest and leading Tech to two of its three all-time trips to the College World Series. That’s the track record that earned Moranda his first head coaching spot.
Perhaps Jeff Austin will be a head coach down the line. The 1998 College Player of the Year and former big leaguer takes over as the Cardinal’s pitching coach after Tom Kunis became the head coach at Ohlone (Calif.) College. Kunis had replaced long-time assistant Tom Dunton, who established the reputation Stanford once had as one of the great pitching schools in the country.
Austin, who pitched under Dunton’s tutelage, is tasked with re-establishing that reputation, as Stanford has had much more success offensively than on the mound in the 2000′s, both in good times and bad, such as the 28-28 2007 club. The Cardinal posted a 6.01 ERA this spring, on the heels of an un-Stanford-like 4.55 season in ’06.
“He has instant credibility with any college pitcher, because he’s done it at the college and professional levels,” coach Mark Marquess said in a press release. “I know our pitchers will enjoy working with him. He has a great personality and a great appreciation for Stanford and college baseball. We’re very fortunate; it’s a great fit.”
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