Cal State Northridge's long coaching search has finally reached its conclusion. Baseball America has learned the Matadors have hired Fresno State assistant Matt Curtis as their new head coach; an official announcement is expected today.
Curtis emerged as one of the favorites for the job shortly after Northridge fired coach Steve Rousey on June 9, but the Matadors inexplicably took two months to make the hire. In the end, they found the right man for the job. Curtis has developed a reputation as one of the top recruiters on the West Coast in his 10 seasons at Fresno, and he played a critical role in assembling Fresno's 2008 national championship team. A former catcher at Fresno, Curtis has experience coaching pitchers, hitters and catchers.
Northridge is not an easy place to win, and many of the top assistants in the West were not interested in the job. The Matadors must upgrade their facility and the administration needs to ramp up its commitment to the program. But the program has won before; under Bill Kernen (now the coach at Cal State Bakersfield), Northridge made a successful transition from Division II to D-I, making regionals in 1991-93. The Matadors also made regionals in 1996 and 2002 under Mike Batesole—Curtis' boss at Fresno State for the last eight years.
The coaching carousel has been busy in the West over the several few days. Here are a few other developments (in addition to Southern California's firing of Chad Kreuter and naming of Frank Cruz as interim head coach):
• Long Beach State coach Troy Buckley filled out his staff, hiring Shawn Gilbert from NAIA Fresno Pacific as an assistant. Gilbert, who spent three years in the big leagues with the Mets, Cardinals and Dodgers, will work primarily primarily with the hitters and infielders. Gilbert (a Fresno State product, like Curtis) joins former Cal Poly assistant Jesse Zepeda as new full-time assistants at LBSU.
• BA confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that UCLA hired T.J. Bruce away from Long Beach to serve as a full-time assistant alongside Rick Vanderhook. Bruce has spent the last five seasons as a volunteer assistant at LBSU, serving as third-base coach and working with the infielders. He replaces Steve Pearse, who left to become head coach at Reedley (Calif.) JC. A former Long Beach State player, Bruce also spent a year as an assistant at Cerritos (Calif.) JC. He brings youth and energy to the UCLA coaching staff. Expect a formal announcement sometime next week.
• Yahoo! reported that Missouri hired San Francisco assistant Matt Hobbs as an assistant. Hobbs spent last season as USF's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator following a three-year stint as associate head coach at Division II power UC San Diego, where he performed the same duties. He was a natural choice for Missouri, where he tallied 13 career victories as a pitcher at the start of the decade. BA has learned that Hobbs will serve as Missouri's pitching coach, and the Tigers have hired Washington Nationals area scout Kerrick Jackson to serve as recruiting coordinator, replacing Tony Vitello (who left for Texas Christian). Evan Pratte will shift to the director of baseball operations position, replacing Luke Cassis, who left for NAIA Trinity International (Ill.). Jackson was the scout who drafted former Missouri ace Aaron Crow ninth overall in 2008, and he coached both Crow and fellow Tigers righty Kyle Gibson with Falmouth in the Cape Cod League. He also has two years of coaching experience at Nicholls State. A formal announcement on Missouri's staff changes is expected this week.
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