Former Arizona State assistant Tim Esmay has been named interim head coach, according to ASU sports information director Randy Policar. Esmay spent the last five seasons as an assistant under Sun Devils head coach Pat Murphy, and the last three as assistant head coach, before Murphy fired him this summer. First-year assistant Travis Jewett will remain on the coaching staff, but the rest of the staff has yet to be determined.
Murphy himself resigned abruptly on Nov. 20, and some media outlets reported that volunteer assistant Ken Knutson would take over as interim head coach. In fact, according to one source, Knutson was offered the job but never accepted it because of financial considerations.
Esmay, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., was an infielder for the Sun Devils from 1986-87 and an assistant coach under ASU icon Jim Brock from 1988-90 and in 1994. Prior to his return to Tempe in 2005, Esmay served as the head coach at Utah for eight seasons. He posted a 213-235-1 record there, a .476 winning percentage, with no NCAA regional trips.
"We are pleased to announce that Tim Esmay will lead our baseball program for the 2010 season," Arizona State athletics director Lisa Love said in a statement. "As a graduate of ASU, he offers perspective as both a Sun Devil student-athlete and as a coach. He brings a wealth of ASU familiarity to our current team as well as significant head coaching experience."
Esmay was a logical choice to stabilize a program in disarray. Now the Sun Devils can finalize their 2010 schedule and quash the uncertainty that has surrounded the program for the last two weeks.
The circumstances surrounding Murphy’s resignation remain unclear, as the outspoken coach has maintained his public silence. Murphy’s only response to repeated phone calls and text messages seeking comment was a text four days after his resignation that read, "In due time."
Arizona State’s players were taken aback by Murphy’s departure. ASU officials have only told players that the school wanted a change of direction in its leadership.
"That was a big part of the reason I came back (for my senior year) was to play for coach Murphy," All-America lefthander Josh Spence told Baseball America this morning. "At the same time, I’m very happy with the team we have coming back. Immediately, it was tough. At the same time now, when you face adversity, you really see people’s true colors, and it’s been positive. When you’ve got guys like Kole (Calhoun), Raoul (Torrez) and Matt Newman, you’ve got great leaders. If anything we’re more accountable for our actions now than we were before. I feel that the leadership’s really stepping up, so it’s good to see."
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