College : : Story
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coaches with an impact

Kendall Rogers        

There’s plenty of good news for college baseball coaches these days.

As we get closer to the fall semester for many programs around the country, the likelihood of changes atop a program have all but diminished. Sure, the college baseball community could be thrown for a surprise with a late-summer departure or removal, but it’s highly unlikely.

With that said, it’s never too early to take an inside look at college baseball’s most impressive hires this summer, while also touching on other intriguing additions.

Arizona State, which will move to a new ballpark in 2015, will usher in a new era with a new, exciting, and outstanding, head coach in former Indiana skipper Tracy Smith. The Sun Devils parted ways with Tim Esmay after an NCAA Regional appearance in 2014, and had some intriguing options to choose from, including Houston’s Todd Whitting, who guided his program to an NCAA Super Regional in ’14, and College of Charleston’s Monte Lee, who guided the gritty Cougars to the program’s second NCAA Super Regional appearance this past season. In the end, though, the Sun Devils felt Smith was the best fit, and he’s the summer’s most impressive hire.

Smith brings a lot of strong qualities to the desert valley. He put together an impressive tenure at Miami (Ohio) before heading to Indiana and making history by building the program into a national power, and of course, reaching the College World Series in 2013. Smith is an excellent coach and put together a coaching staff that will do a very good job recruiting both in Arizona and California, and frankly, the rest of the West Coast, too. Smith’s approach and personality are exactly what ASU needs as it looks to reestablish itself as a elite power.

Smith’s departure from Indiana had a ripple effect. The Hoosiers, with a brand new ballpark and plenty of momentum, wanted to show a strong commitment, and did just that by luring Louisville assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Chris Lemonis, who earned a stellar reputation during his long tenure on Dan McDonnell’s UL staff. The impact was felt in the assistant coach department, too. With Lemonis going to Indiana, the Cardinals, in turn, hired Illinois top assistant Eric Snider, with the Illini then hiring Creighton assistant Spencer Allen, who previously had Big Ten experience with a stint at Purdue.

Both ASU and IU made terrific hires in Smith and Lemonis, respectively, but they’re certainly not alone. It’s time to get acquainted with some of the other great hires in college baseball.

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