Another SEC Coaching Change

Less than a week after Tennessee fired coach Rod Delmonico, another 2005 College World Series participant from the Southeastern Conference axed its coach, as well. Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley announced that Pat McMahon will not return as the Gators’ coach in 2008. The Gators reached the CWS championship series against Texas in 2005, but they have missed the NCAA tournament the last two seasons.

“After an honest and open evaluation, I felt a change in leadership was necessary to have the baseball program be in a position to consistently rank among the nation’s best,” Foley said. “We certainly appreciate everything that Pat has done for the program, but it is time to move in a different direction. We thank him for all of his efforts and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. We will begin a national search immediately.”

To some degree, McMahon is a victim of the recent success of Florida’s football and basketball teams, which are both reigning national champions. But that doesn’t mean McMahon deserved his fate. He led the Gators to the NCAA tournament in four of his six seasons in Gainesville, compiling a 241-132-1 record, and he guided the team to its first two super-regional appearances ever.

McMahon and his staff brought in an excellent recruiting class last year, but the 2007 Gators were very young, and it’s a real shame McMahon wasn’t allowed to help his exciting young core mature. Florida will be a good club the next two years, and whoever inherits this job will have McMahon to thank. McMahon, widely respected by his peers, was one of three coaches on the NCAA’s special APR enhancement committee. He also is an incredibly nice man, and he deserved better.

McMahon’s assistants, Ross Jones, Don Norris and Tim Parenton, also were let go. Florida’s pitching has been a significant problem in recent years as the Gators were unable to develop consistent starting pitching and depended heavily on their bullpen. The team’s 5.27 ERA this year helped doom it to a 29-30 record, causing the team to miss regionals for the second straight year.

As for potential replacements, you’d have to think former Louisiana State coach Smoke Laval and current College of Charleston coach John Pawlowski would be strong contenders for both the Florida job and the Tennessee job. A couple of wild cards in Knoxville might be Southern California assistant Bill Mosiello and UC Irvine coach Dave Serrano, who have both served as Tennessee assistants (though it’s hard to imagine Serrano leaving the West Coast). If Florida wants to hire an up-and-coming assistant coach, it might look at Tulane’s Mark Kingston or Baylor’s Mitch Thompson. Or the Gators could look toward one of the ACC’s talented assistant coaches like Miami’s J.D. Arteaga, Clemson’s Kevin O’Sullivan, North Carolina’s Chad Holbrook or Virginia’s Kevin McMullan. Arteaga figured to be a favorite for Florida International’s vacant coaching job, but word has it Delmonico has his eye on that job, and the Golden Panthers would likely jump at a candidate with Delmonico’s high profile.