I was on vacation most of last week (with the exception of the Cape Cod League all-star game), and a backlog of coaching news greeted me upon my return to the office. Here's a roundup:
• Ball State promoted Alex Marconi from assistant coach to head coach, replacing Greg Beals, who left for Ohio State earlier this summer. Marconi spent the last five years as a Ball State assistant under Beals. After he finished his collegiate playing career at Kent State (where Beals served as an assistant), Marconi played four years of professional ball in the Rays system, then worked as a volunteer assistant at North Carolina in 2005. But his familiarity with the Ball State program was a major reason he beat out other solid candidates like former Kent State and Wake Forest coach Rick Rembielak.
"Coach Marconi's knowledge of the program, Ball State University and the Muncie community played a key role in his being named our head coach," athletics director Tom Collins said in a release. "He is an outstanding person with great integrity and character who has a tremendous work ethic and desire to be the head baseball coach at Ball State."
• Winthrop hired Clemson associate head coach Tom Riginos to replace Joe Hudak as its new head coach. Riginos has proven his recruiting mettle in the last eight years at Clemson (where he also coached the hitters and outfielders) and nine years as the recruiting coordinator at Stetson, his alma mater. This will be his first head coaching job, but he has plenty of postseason coaching experience, having reached five regionals at Stetson and seven at Clemson—plus two College World Series appearances. [...] Continue Reading »
Air Force has sent a strong message this offseason that it is serious about turning its struggling baseball program around. First the Falcons hired the well-respected Maj. Mike Kazlausky (who came with glowing recommendations from Louisiana State coach Paul Mainieri and USA Baseball general manager of national teams Eric Campbell) to take over as head coach. Then they hired Toby Bicknell away from Davidson to serve as hitting coach. On Tuesday, Air Force announced it has hired Tim Dixon away from Southern Illinois to be its pitching coach.
Dixon has an excellent reputation in the Midwest and has coached seven draft picks in his four years at SIU, including 2008 second-rounder Cody Adams. Before arriving at SIU he spent two years at Feather River (Calif.) JC and two at Pacific.
“To be a part of what the Air Force Academy represents is truly an honor and privilege,” Dixon said in a release. “Alongside everyone involved with Falcon baseball, I look forward to raising the expectations of the program to the standards of what the Air Force Academy and the Air Force represents.”
Some other coaching news and rumblings: [...] Continue Reading »
Boston College announced Monday that it has hired Mike Gambino as its new head coach.
Since 2006, Gambino has served as an assistant at Virginia Tech under former BC coach Pete Hughes. He also served as a volunteer under Hughes at BC from 2003-'05, and he played infield for the Eagles from 1995-2000. In the last decade, he also has spent two stints in professional ball, working in scouting and player development for the Red Sox and in scouting for the Tigers. The 32-year-old Gambino has proven his recruiting mettle at Virginia Tech, where he served as the recruiting coordinator and played a key role in building the Hokies' first regional team in a decade this spring.
“We are very excited to bring back Mike Gambino as our new head coach,” BC athletics director Gene DeFilippo said in a release. “As a former player and assistant coach here, Mike has the experience and passion to bring the baseball program to the next level. He has already hit the ground running.”
Gambino emerged as the front-runner immediately after the BC job became vacant when Mik Aoki left for Notre Dame. The Eagles also interviewed Wright State coach Rob Cooper, former Miami recruiting coordinator Gino DiMare and current BC assistant Steve Englert (who is not going with Aoki to Notre Dame and would seem to be a candidate to join Gambino's staff at BC).
Aoki told BA on Monday that BC made the right hire to replace him.
"I'm thrilled for that hire—I think it's perfect," Aoki said. "BC is one of those places that represents some different challenges, and Mike being an alum, Mike having coached there, I think he's really familiar with those challenges. I think Mike will do a great job; he's highly organized, he has a huge motor in him to go and do it. BC's a place you need that, you need a big motor, you need to have a passion for the place. That kid absolutely bleeds maroon and gold, and I think that he will represent the same types of values that served both Pete and me well there. I'm excited for Mike, I'm excited for BC, and I know there's probably going to be a little trepidation on the part of our players and some of the incoming kids that are there. But I think he's the perfect guy at the perfect time, and I'm really thrilled that he was the guy that they chose."
• Elsewhere, we reported on Twitter on Friday that Texas Christian was set to hire Missouri recruiting coordinator Tony Vitello to replace Todd Whitting (who left to become head coach at Houston). [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America has confirmed reports that South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi has been hired as the head coach-in-waiting at South Alabama. Calvi will join Steve Kittrell's staff as an assistant until Kittrell retires at the end of the 2011 season.
Calvi has spent the last six seasons at South Carolina, and his staff carried the Gamecocks to their first national championship this spring. He handled South Carolina's pitchers masterfully in 2010, developing one of the nation's best bullpens and shepherding the staff through the losers' bracket in the College World Series. Gamecocks head coach Ray Tanner credited Calvi repeatedly in Omaha for helping him make the right decisions on who to start and how to use the bullpen.
Before coming to South Carolina, Calvi spent 11 years at Florida International, making seven trips to regionals during that span. His FIU staffs finished in the nation's top 10 in ERA five times.
Calvi beat out a deep group of applicants, including former Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico and Chipola (Fla.) JC coach Jeff Johnson. According to The (Columbia, S.C.) State, other candidates included Mike Goff (manager of the Giants' Rookie-level Arizona League team), Virginia pitching coach Karl Kuhn, Southeastern Louisiana head coach Jay Artigues, Florida State assistant Mike Martin Jr. and two current members of the South Alabama staff.
Bryant announced Thursday that it has hired Steve Owens as its new head baseball coach. Owens has led Le Moyne to 11 straight winning seasons, and he has coached 27 players who went on to play professionally in 19 years as a head coach at Le Moyne and Division III power Cortland (N.Y.) State.
A two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferenc coach of the year, Owens is one of the most respected coaches in the Northeast, and he is a fantastic hire for the Bulldogs. He replaces 2010 Northeast Conference coach of the year Jamie Pinzino, who was forced to resign last month in the wake of an alcohol-related arrest.
“I would like to thank Bryant University for the opportunity to be its next head baseball coach,” Owens said in a release. “It is very clear to me that the leadership and plan for excellence at Bryant University matches both the immediate and long-term goals that I have for the baseball program. I very much look forward to meeting and working with my players. In addition, I am excited to establish relationships with my colleagues and integrate my family into both the campus and community.” [...] Continue Reading »
Coppin State named Sherman Reed its new head coach on Tuesday. Reed, who was an assistant at Coppin in 2008 under Harvey Lee and in 2009 under Mike Scolinos, replaces Scolinos, who left the program in June to pursue other opportunities.
“This is like coming home for me,” Reed in a release. “I was raised in west Baltimore, I went to public schools here and I have family members that graduated from Coppin State.
“I recognize that there are only 301 Division I coaching jobs and am very honored that Mr. Ramsey believes than I am the right person to turn the program around.”
Reed played collegiately at Towson from 1979-83 under former Orioles and Rangers coach Billy Hunter. He then spent 10 seasons playing independent baseball prior to beginning his coaching career. [...] Continue Reading »
Notre Dame officially announced Monday that it has hired Mik Aoki away from Boston College to be its new head coach. Aoki spent the last four years as the head coach at BC, leading the Eagles to regionals in 2009 for the first time since 1967. Before that he served as an assistant under BC coach Pete Hughes. He also spent five years as the head coach at Columbia, and four years as an assistant at Dartmouth, so his familiarity with high academic standards and cold-weather schools goes back even farther than his BC days. It's a great hire for the Irish.
Aoki also has plenty of passion for the Notre Dame job, which he called a "once in a lifetime opportunity" in his introductory press conference.
"Arguably, Notre Dame is the biggest brand name is college athletics, and one of the best academic institutions in the country, and I feel that that model is one that can help us get back to Omaha," Aoki said. "I don't think that the academic requirements are something that prevents us at having success at a very high level. In fact, I think it's something that attracts kids and will help us get back to that level.
"You have an opportunity to get an education from one of the best universities in the world; an opportunity to play in what I think is a very underrated baseball conference; and you have an opportunity to win championships in that baseball conference, which means that that gives you the opportunity to go compete for national championships. And if you can't sell that to a kid, then you need to be in a different line of work."
Here's today's batch of coaching news and rumblings:
• Loyola Marymount officially announced Monday that it has hired Ted Silva as its new pitching coach. Silva, who spent the last three years as the pitching coach at UC Irvine, played with LMU head coach Jason Gill at Cal State Fullerton in 1994 and served with Gill on the Titans' coaching staff in 2005-06. Silva is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the West, and he is a terrific hire for Gill, who is entering his third year as the Lions' head coach. LMU has also hired a well-respected hitting coach with Fullerton ties in Bryant Ward, who moved back to the West Coast after a stint at South Florida. That hire is expected to be officially announced later this week. Gill certainly made a splash with his coaching staff overhaul.
• Ward, by the way, was replaced at USF by former Bulls standout Chris Heintz, who spent the last two seasons coaching and managing in the Twins organization. South Florida is still seeking a pitching coach to replace Lazer Collazo, who resigned last month to spend more time with his family. Candidates include Division II Tampa pitching coach Sam Militello (the D-II player of the year while playing for current USF coach Lelo Prado at Tampa in 1990); former Houston coach Rayner Noble (who knows Prado from their days in Conference USA from 1997-2005, when Prado was at Louisville); and former big leaguer Alan Mills (a Lakeland, Fla., resident with coaching experience in the Tigers system).
• Georgia State announced today it has hired Jason Arnold as its pitching coach. Arnold, who started his coaching career at Bethune-Cookman and spent the last two seasons there on Mervyl Melendez's staff, played at Central Florida from 1998-2001 when current Georgia State coach Greg Frady was an assistant there. Arnold then played professionally until 2006 adn spent two years as a high school coach in Florida before joining B-CU. [...] Continue Reading »
Another day, another turn of the assistant coaching carousel. New Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley announced Friday that he is hiring Cal Poly hitting coach/recruiting coordinator to fill the same position at LBSU. Zepeda, who played in the College World Series with Oklahoma in 1995 and played four years in pro ball, has spent the last seven years at Poly.
“Jesse is a great addition to our staff,” Buckley said in a release. “His experience and knowledge of the Big West Conference and collegiate baseball on the West Coast is a tremendous asset in the recruiting and coaching arenas. He is an outstanding fit both professionally and personally, and we are excited for him and his family to join the Dirtbag family.”
On the opposite coast, Virginia Tech assistant coach Mike Gambino has emerged as the favorite to succeed Mik Aoki as the head coach at Boston College, once Notre Dame makes its hire of Aoki official this week. Gambino played for BC under former Eagles coach Pete Hughes (now his boss at Virginia Tech) from 1995-2000, then spent time playing and scouting in pro ball and serving as a volunteer assistant under Hughes at BC. In 2006 he joined Hughes' staff at Virginia Tech.
With BC assistant Joe Hastings expected to join Aoki's staff at Notre Dame, Gambino has the inside track at the head job in Chestnut Hill, but he is not a lock. Jayson King, coach of Division II power Franklin Pierce (N.H.), has entered the picture as a darkhorse candidate. In 12 years at Franklin Pierce, King has developed a reputation as one of the best coaches in the Northeast, adept at identifying and nurturing talent. If the Eagles opt to make a hire from outside the Hughes coaching tree, King is the strongest and likeliest candidate. [...] Continue Reading »
Thursday was a busy day on the assistant coaching carousel, as East Carolina and Houston announced they had hired full-time assistants, while Nebraska hired a high-profile volunteer assistant.
The Pirates hired Dan Roszel away from College of Charleston to be their new pitching coach. Roszel, who spent the last two years as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at CofC, did a fine job handling a Cougars staff that ranked fourth in the SoCon in ERA despite playing in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. Roszel, a 2000 graduate of North Florida, had previous coaching stints at Florida Gulf Coast and Gardner-Webb.
"We are excited to have Dan Roszel join our coaching staff at East Carolina," ECU coach Billy Godwin said in a release. "He is well respected in baseball circles, has an outstanding reputation as a pitching coach and recruiter and will be a great asset to our program."
Houston hired Trip Couch as its recruiting coordinator. Couch served alongside new UH head coach Todd Whitting on the Houston coaching staff from 1996-2000, and he has been a scout for the Diamondbacks since 2002. [...] Continue Reading »
Notre Dame is close to naming Boston College coach Mik Aoki its next head coach, though the process has not yet been completed, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. An official announcement is expected early next week.
Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Aoki declined to comment on the negotiations. He did, however, refute a report on a blog last Tuesday night that the deal was done then.
"At the time that that blog report came out, which I think was on a Tuesday night, that was fiction," Aoki said. "There had been nothing offered, nothing accepted, basically nothing. I had interviewed, I don't know where Notre Dame was in their thing. Who else interviewed for it, I don't really necessarily know. But there was no offer even—it was completely false. At the time that report came out, that was totally and unequivocally untrue. "
Another source said Kent State coach Scott Stricklin had also interviewed for and been offered the Notre Dame job, but he opted to remain at Kent State, so the Irish set their sights on Aoki. Stricklin said Tuesday he will sign an extension at Kent State within the week, and he is happy to be staying at his alma mater. [...] Continue Reading »
We've got several coaching tid-bits to pass along from the last two days. Winthrop fired longtime coach Joe Hudak; Houston hired Todd Whitting as its new head coach; and Dallas Baptist hired Bob Keller as its pitching coach.
Hudak will be reassigned within the Winthrop athletic department after 19 years at the helm. He led the Eagles to five regionals and a .580 winning percentage, but they finished with a losing record in two of the last three seasons, and athletic director Tom Hickman said in a statement that "the program has not progressed in recent years as we would have liked."
I ran into Michigan coach Rich Maloney in the Rosenblatt Stadium press box last night—he was in town to watch his two sons play summer baseball. As I reported on Twitter last night, Maloney said the Wolverines had hired Georgia Tech volunteer assistant Matt White as their new pitching coach, and today they officially announced it. He replaces Bob Keller, who resigned at the end of the season.
White is best known for being drafted seventh overall by the Giants in 1996, then signing with the Rays for a record $10.2 million bonus as a loophole free agent. Three shoulder surgeries cut his career short, but he found a new career in coaching—as John Manuel detailed in a column this March (subscriber only).
When I chatted with Maloney last night, he sounded very excited about the energy White will bring to his program. [...] Continue Reading »
A few weeks after reports surfaced that Rayner Noble will not return as Houston's coach next year, the school made it official this afternoon, announcing Noble's resignation after 16 years at the helm.
“My 16 years as baseball head coach at the University of Houston have been a tremendous experience and blessing,” Noble said in a statement. “I wish the team and program many years of success in the future. I only hope my next 16 years of coaching are as good as the last 16 have been.”
Noble, who was the seventh coach in school history, leaves as the program’s winningest coach with a 551-420 career record at his alma mater. During his tenure, he led the Cougars to three super regional appearances, eight regionals and six Conference USA regular-season and tournament championships.
A national search for Noble's replacement will begin immediately, according to the school's release, but there are really two primary candidates for this job: Texas Christian assistant Todd Whitting and Rice assistant David Pierce—both of whom are former UH assistants. Both would be outstanding hires.
Ohio State officially announced Thursday morning that it has hired Greg Beals as its new head baseball coach. Beals spent the last eight seasons at Ball State, where he led the Cardinals to three Mid-American Conference West Division titles.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am about this opportunity,” Beals said in a release. “I look forward to donning the Ohio State block ‘O’ cap and representing The Ohio State University. I have surrounded myself with great people—administrators, coaches and student-athletes—that I will be forever grateful to. Now I join an athletics department that embraces the motto ‘You Win with People.’ ”
Beals, a Kent State product, replaces the retiring Bob Todd and becomes just the third Ohio State coach in the last 48 years. Before taking over at Ball State, he spent nine years as an assistant at Kent State. His Cardinals teams won 36 or more games three times and reached regionals in 2006 for the first time since 1969. That year, Ball State upset top-seeded Kentucky in the Lexington Regional for perhaps the biggest win in school history. [...] Continue Reading »
Notre Dame announced Monday afternoon that coach Dave Schrage has been fired. Schrage's teams went 119-104-1 and failed to reach regionals in any of his four seasons at the helm.
"I appreciate all the contributions Dave has made over the four seasons to Notre Dame baseball," Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "Like Dave and his staff and his players, we all would have liked to have enjoyed more success, but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort or commitment.
"I will begin today to work with (senior assistant athletics director and baseball administrator) Josh Berlo to conduct a national search for our next baseball coach." [...] Continue Reading »
Bizarre story out of Rhode Island this week, as Bryant coach Jamie Pinzino has been forced to resign in the wake of an alcohol-related arrest.
Pinzino, the Northeast Conference coach of the year after leading the Bulldogs to the conference title in just their second season in Division I, was arrested on May 26 and charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, all misdemeanors. He pleaded innocent at his arraignment on June 3 in District Court, Providence, and is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing on June 15. Police also arrested Bryant assistant Andy Koocher. According to police reports, Pinzino and Koocher were intoxicated and fighting on the baseball field and became confrontational with police when they responded to a call. Pinzino was subdued with a Taser before police arrested him.
Pinzino is a fine coach who built a good foundation at Bryant, but the Bulldogs will have to move on without him. One candidate for the job should be former Vermont coach Bill Currier, who found himself out of a job when the Catamounts dissolved their program after last season.
Cal State Northridge fired coach Steve Rousey on Wednesday after eight years at the helm. Rousey's teams compiled a 169-278-1 overall record in his tenure and a 48-129 ledger in the Big West Conference. Northridge went 29-27 this year, 9-15 in conference play (tied for seventh place).
"This is never an easy decision, but after a thorough review of the Matador baseball program, it has been determined the program needs to move in a different direction," CSUN director of dthletics Rick Mazzuto said in a statement. "The University and I greatly appreciate the hard work and contributions Steve has made during his eight seasons as head coach at Cal State Northridge."
Before taking over as head coach, Rousey served as an assistant coach for the Matadors in 2001 and 2002.
A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
Michigan pitching coach Bob Keller is out after six years with the Wolverines.
The move comes as a surprise, as Keller had success with Michigan and has a very good reputation in coaching circles. Sixteen Michigan pitchers have earned all-Big Ten honors and 10 have been drafted under Keller's tutelage. In that period, the Wolverines have won three Big Ten regular-season titles, two tournament titles, have been to four regionals and one super regional.
Michigan finished second in the standings this year, a game behind Minnesota, and tied for third in the league in ERA (5.22) and ranked second in strikeouts per nine innings (7.5).
Keller also had success in his three-year stint at Birmingham-Southern, where his staff ranked 29th in the nation in ERA (3.82) during a 47-win season and trip to regionals in 2004.
Don't expect Keller to remain unemployed for long.
Arizona State announced late Tuesday night that Tim Esmay has been named head baseball coach, after spending the 2010 season as the interim coach. Esmay led the Sun Devils to a 47-8 record, a Pacific-10 Conference championship and the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. And he did it after taking over a program in turmoil, reeling from the abrupt forced resignation of reigning Pac-10 coach of the year Pat Murphy and an NCAA investigation into rules violations.
For keeping the Sun Devils focused in the face of distractions (including an elbow injury to expected ace Josh Spence), Esmay was named Midseason Coach of the Year in Baseball America's midseason report. Hiring him full-time should have been a no-brainer for Arizona State, and it likely was.
Before 2010, Esmay spend the past five seasons as an ASU assistant before Murphy fired him last summer. He also played two seasons at ASU under coach Jim Brock in 1986-87 and had two stints as an assistant under Brock. He has head coaching experience at Utah, where he compiled a 213-235-1 record in eight seasons from 1997-2004.
“I am pleased to announce that Tim Esmay has accepted the position of head baseball coach at Arizona State University,” athletics director Lisa Love said in a statement. “What Coach Esmay, his coaching staff, and team have accomplished thus far in 2010 is quite impressive, although not surprising. He has delivered to the ASU community a Pac-10 Championship underscored with a commitment to character and academic achievement. As evidenced by fantastic attendance at games this season, ASU Baseball is an icon to our community and we look forward to an exciting future under Coach Esmay’s leadership. For now, we wish this team and staff the very best in postseason play.”
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