It's been a busy week on the coaching carousel, and one of the season's highest-profile openings was filled Thursday. Here's a roundup:
• Nebraska introduced Darin Erstad as its new head coach in a Thursday afternoon press conference. A two-time major league all-star who spent parts of 14 seasons in the majors—mostly with the Angels—before retiring after the 2009 season, Erstad returned to his alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach under Mike Anderson this season. Erstad starred on the baseball field for the Cornhuskers and won a national championship as the football team's punter under former head coach Tom Osborne, now the Nebraska athletics director. When Anderson was fired at the end of the season, Erstad's name quickly moved to the top of Osborne's list of potential replacements, six of whom interviewed for the position.
"The reason I feel strongly about Darin is I think he is committed for the right reasons," Osborne said in Thursday's press conference. "He obviously cares about Nebraska baseball a great deal. He is interested in developing and serving players . . . I don’t think he is going to do this job to get ready to go to the next job. He’s had a lot of experience at the highest level. He knows what good baseball looks like and he probably knows what bad baseball looks like. Lastly, I did take the time to call quite a few of the players and really didn’t find anybody who was not very supportive and complimentary of Darin. They have a lot of trust in him. They feel that he is somebody who would be a great fit."
Erstad said he is going to hire two new assistants, and those hires will be critical given his lack of coaching experience.
"I’m going to have somebody run this ship as far as recruiting goes," he said. "I’m going to have to lean on them. Obviously I need to learn a lot and I’ll learn fast. The second one, pitching coach, slam dunk great pitching coach. The guy has to be credible right out of the shoot. The other guy I just want a lot of fire. I want somebody who knows their thing. Since I was pretty much horrible as a hitting coach, I probably should put them in charge of hitting. I’ll just oversee the other stuff."
Erstad was known as a blue-collar grinder during his playing days, and he said the day-to-day grind of being a Division I head coach appeals to him. Don't expect him to run his program with a laid-back big league approach.
"We have some tremendously talented young pitchers, we have another class coming in and just getting them in line, getting them to play hard, play to win and play for each other," Erstad said. "I think a lot of the times, these kids come from different types of settings where they are showcased and they need to learn how to win. We’re going to teach them how to win on the baseball field, off the baseball field and on all walks of life."
• Air Force elevated Mike Kazlausky from interim head coach to full-time head coach on Thursday. Kazlausky led the Falcons to a 19-36 overall record this spring, the program's most wins since 2002, and the second-most Division I wins in school history.
"This is my school and no one is more proud than I to have gone through the Academy and to have served for twenty years in the Air Force,” Kazlausky said in a release. ". . . I have a great understanding of all the pillars at the Academy, and I truly understand the mission of the Academy and the Air Force. Our job, as a staff, is to ensure success not only on the baseball field but in all facets of the Academy and that each young man is ready to lead our great country upon graduation."
• On Tuesday, Hartford made a splash, hiring Connecticut recruiting coordinator/pitching coach Justin Blood as its new head coach. Blood is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the Northeast, having helped construct the Huskies' back-to-back regionals teams. He'll join Hartford after the conclusion of UConn's current postseason run, and he'll have his work cut out for him at Hartford, which went 6-43-1 this year and has not had a winning season since 1992. Coach Jeff Calcaterra was fired on May 4, when the team was 3-34.
"They have some good players there now," Blood told the Hartford Courant. "The depth at each position needs to be improved, and their pitching needs to get better. I can help with that."
• Also Tuesday, Louisiana State associate head coach David Grewe resigned to pursue other career opportunities. Grewe spent the last three years as LSU's recruiting coordinator and pitching coach. Prior to arriving in Baton Rouge, he served as Michigan State's head coach. Grewe told head coach Paul Mainieri and athletic director Joe Alleva on May 12 that this would be his last season in Baton Rouge.
“For my personal development, I want to explore the possibilities to expand my role as a college baseball coach and professional,” Grewe said in a release.
The Tigers had plenty of lead time to begin their search, and reports suggest a successor could be hired by the end of next week.
• On Sunday, UC Santa Barbara reassigned long-time coach Bob Brontsema to another position in the athletics department. Brontsema has been part of the UCSB program for 30 years—the last 18 as the head coach. The Gauchos went 26-26 overall this season and have not made a regional since 2001. Brontsema went 483-478 in his career.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog