Notre Dame recently announced on June 14th that they released Dave Schrage from his contract clearing the way for a new head coach for Notre Dame baseball. The Notre Dame job in the past has seen many great coaches come through South Bend including former Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy and current LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. They have also had some great players over the years from Wilie McGill from the late 1800’s to John Axford who made his major league debut on September 15th 2009. Over the last week or so, there has been some rumors across the nation on who will be the best coach for the Irish. Here are my top five if I was in charge of the search committee.
1. Scott Stricklin (Kent State)
Stricklin has led the Golden Flashes to a 222-128 record during his six years. He has been even more impressive during conference play as they are 96-49. He has led the Kent State Golden Flashes to the NCAA Tournament three times over the last four years with them having a 1-6 record in the tournament. The Golden Flashes have also seen two players selected in the last five seasons in the top three rounds.
I think Stricklin would be a good fit for the Fighting Irish as he knows the midwest landscape well with his experience at Kent State and also can recruit nationally with his previous work at Georgia Tech where he served as the recruiting coordinator bringing in three top five classes to the Yellow Jackets program. If he was to get the money and backing from the Notre Dame program then the Fighting Irish can return to the promise land like they did during the 2001 season by making it to Omaha.
2. Joe Urso (Tampa)
Coach Urso has led the Tampa Spartans to a 446-137-1 record over his ten seasons with the Spartans baseball program. In 2010, he led them to the NCAA Division 2 NCAA Tournament with a 46-11 overall record with a 21-3 record in the Sunshine State Conference before bowing out in Division 2 College World Series to Georgia College and State. He won two national championships with the Spartans during the 2006 and 2007 seasons while finishing second in 2003.
I think it is highly doubtful that Urso would leave his alma mater Tampa for the cold climate of South Bend, Indiana, but he has done a respectable job with the Spartans and could do an excellent job at any school in the country.
3. Cory Mee (Toledo)
Cory Mee is currently the head coach with the Toledo Rockets where he has a career record of 129-189 as he enters his seventh season in charge of the program. The 2010 season saw him bring the Rockets to a 24-30 overall record but finished in second place in the MAC Western Division.
The biggest thing helping out Mee with Notre Dame is the fact that he was a 1992 graduate from the school so they might want to get a ND guy back in charge of the program and he is probably the best one out there with a connection to the program.
His overall record is less than impressive, but Toledo is an extremely difficult place to win. Mee has had to overcome many obstacles with the Rockets, including a less then stellar facility, while the history of the program doesn’t help him out much either.
4. David Grewe (LSU Assistant)
David Grewe is currently the associate head coach at LSU under former Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri. He helped lead the Tigers pitching staff to the 2009 NCAA Championship and this past season had an inexperienced pitching staff that he was able to get to the NCAA Regionals where they went 1-2. On the 2009 staff, he oversaw three All-American pitchers in right-handers Louis Coleman, Anthony Ranaudo and Matty Ott. Coleman was the ’09 SEC Pitcher of the Year, recording a 14-2 record, a 2.93 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 129 innings. Coleman finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation in wins and No. 4 in strikeouts.Ranaudo, an all-SEC selection and a member of the College World Series all-tournament team, was 12-3 on the year with a 3.04 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 124.1 innings. Ranaudo was No. 3 in the nation in strikeouts, and he became the first LSU pitcher to lead the SEC in Ks since Kurt Ainsworth in 1999. Ott, the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, established an LSU single-season record with 16 saves. A finalist for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year award, Ott posted a 4-2 mark and a 2.68 ERA with six walks and 69 strikeouts in 50.1 innings.
He served as the head coach at Michigan State before heading down to LSU, where he went 75-85 while being 40-53 in three seasons in charge of the Spartan program. Before serving at Michigan State, he coached at Notre Dame under Coach Mainieri where he brought in two top-10 recruiting classes including the 2004 Class (ranked No. 6 by Baseball America) and the 2006 Class (ranked No. 7 by Team One Baseball).
5. Kevin McMullen (Virginia Assistant)
Kevin McMullen just finished his eighth season as a member of Brian O’Connor’s staff. He has spent the last five seasons as the Associate Head Coach and is currently the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach, while at the same time working defensively with the Cavaliers’ infielders and catchers. Kevin is widely considered one of the top recruiters in the country as he has brought in six straight classes that have ranked among the nation’s best – 2004 (12th), 2005 (10th), 2006 (8th), 2007 (13th), 2008 (14th) and 2009 (9th). A couple of the most talented players that have come through Charlottseville are Jarrett Parker, Sean Doolittle, and Jacob Thompson to name a few.
He has helped guide Virginia to 316 wins in his seven seasons – by far the most wins ever at Virginia over a seven-year period and an average of 45 wins per season. Virginia also has earned seven-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances as well as four No. 1 seeds.
The connection to Notre Dame for McMullen goes back to his father John McMullen who was an All-American football player at ND before playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Titans (Jets), and the New York Giants. Also, current Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame for nine seasons before taking over the Cavs program.