In a much-anticipated move, Tennessee announced Monday that it has fired head coach Todd Raleigh after four disappointing seasons. The Volunteers went 108-113 (.489) overall in the Raleigh era, including a 42-78 (.350) mark in SEC play. They failed to reach a regional or the SEC tournament during Raleigh's tenure.
When Raleigh was hired from Western Carolina in 2007, the Volunteers were hampered by scholarship limitations as a result of low Academic Progress Rate scores, and many of their scholarships were tied up with players who were not contributing for various reasons. But Raleigh was simply never able to get the program—which went to the College World Series in 1995, 2001 and 2005 under Rod Delmonico—going again. This year was rock bottom for Tennessee, which was swept five times and finished just 7-23 in the league, even after winning its final two games of the year against Auburn.
"We feel our baseball program, unfortunately, has not made the progress on the field that it should have over the last four years," director of athletics Mike Hamilton said in a release. "We believe a change in leadership is necessary in order to move the program forward. We appreciate Todd's efforts and wish him the best in all future endeavors."
Contractually, the university is obligated to pay Raleigh his annual base salary for the one year remaining on his contract, as well as one year's worth of additional compensation for broadcast and shoe and apparel pay. That total is $331,657.53, payable over 12 months in equal installments.
SEC head coaching jobs are highly coveted in the coaching world for their exposure, compensation and resources. The Tennessee job should attract no shortage of qualifed candidates—even though it won't be easy to win in the same division where Ray Tanner, Tim Corbin and Kevin O'Sullivan have built juggernauts.
The Vols are believed to have serious interest in South Carolina associate head coach Chad Holbrook, who helped construct four CWS teams at North Carolina as well as the 2010 national champions at South Carolina. His former co-worker at UNC, associate head coach Scott Forbes, could also be on the short list. Forbes, like Holbrook, was instrumental in building the Tar Heels into a national power under head coach Mike Fox. And Vanderbilt associate head coach Derek Johnson—BA's 2010 Assistant Coach of the Year—is another of the nation's most respected pitching minds, and he knows what it takes to win in the SEC. Whether he'd leave a powerhouse at Vandy for a struggling in-state rival is another question.
The darkhorse candidate is Cal State Fullerton coach Dave Serrano, one of the bigger names in the college baseball coaching world. Serrano has ties to Tennessee, having served as an assistant there in 1995-96, and the Volunteers surely have the coffers to trump Fullerton in any bidding war.
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