There have been two major coaching changes relevant to Michigan baseball over the last week. The first has been know to be coming since early April with Ohio State's Bob Todd retiring after 23 years as the Buckeye's big man. OSU has continued a long running Big Ten tradition in baseball by poaching a solid MAC coach, going with a somewhat suprising pick of Greg Beals, formerly of Ball State.
Beals was the man to replace Rich Maloney at Ball State after Maloney's jump to Michigan. As the leader of the Cardinals, Beals accumulated a record of 243-202 (117-80 in MAC play). In his eight years, BSU won three MAC West titles and become one of the best recruiters in the Midwest. The 2010 season saw three Cardinals getting drafted including Korbin Vitek, a 1st Team All-American and 1st round MLB draft pick.
The surprise of the pick was the rampant speculation that Ohio State would try to poach the coach of the best baseball program in Ohio, Kent State's Scott Stricklin. Stricklin had many ties to the Ohio area and has produced a better team on the field over the last decade.
I think this is a very solid pick up for the Buckeyes. Beals recruiting has been national even at Ball State. With the "Ohio State University" name behind him, he could be a big player in elevating Ohio State from the mediocrity that the final years of Bob Todd made common place.
The other major coaching change happened at Notre Dame as they fired four-year head coach Dave Schrage. Schrage was a huge disappointment for the Irish who have produced some of the top coaches of college baseball's last decade. Pat Murphy who lead Arizona State to much success and Paul Mainieri who is coaching LSU these days are the last two head coaches, and Brian O'Connor at Virginia was an assistant coach there, too.
Schrage's overall record was 119-104-1 including a horrific 22 win season in 2010. That just doesn't cut the mustard at a place like South Bend with quite a decorated baseball history.
With Schrage out, the Irish have taken a strange step of promoting associate coach Scott Lawler as "interim head coach." I don't understand the reasoning of naming him just interim. It's not like the Irish are in the College World Series and in serious need of a quick fix.
As for Lawler, he's from a coaching family. His uncle spent 22 years with Texas A&M and his father has been inducted into the Illinois High School Hall of Fame for his work with Naperville Central H.S. as an assistant coach. He's had stints at Evansville, Northern Illinois, and Arkansas-Little Rock before joining the Irish in Schrage's first season.
I don't know what to make of this pick. They went internal, which makes little sense when the team has struggled so much over the last 4 years, at least by ND standards. Perhaps the main target of the Irish just wasn't available this year? Maybe there just wasn't anyone attractive enough on the market? Was it necessary to announce the move so quickly after firing their coach?
None of it makes sense to me, but all of the haste makes me question the move.