Oakland Hires Akron’s Jordon Banfield As Head Coach

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There are just two head coaching jobs open in college baseball after Oakland announced Friday it had hired Jordon Banfield as its new head coach.

Banfield, 33, heads to Oakland after spending the last two seasons as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Akron. Banfield had quite a unique position at Akron after the program was brought back three years ago.

Now, he heads to an Oakland program that has yet to reach the NCAA tournament in program history and finished the last three seasons with records of 2-10, 11-37 and 15-32, respectively. The Grizzlies are located in a great part of the Detroit Metropolitan area, but need serious field and facility upgrades. However, athletic director Steve Waterfield loves the pedigree that Banfield brings to the table.

“I am happy to welcome Jordon to the Oakland University Athletics Department family and am very pleased that he will be leading the baseball program,” Waterfield said. “From a very strong candidate pool, Jordon impressed with his vision for the baseball program, recruiting success at multiple institutions, and plans to engage Oakland University baseball alumni and the Michigan baseball community.  Moreover, he appreciates Oakland University’s remarkable institutional strengths and possesses an optimism that will propel the baseball program to sustained excellence”

Banfield has an interesting background that could prove valuable at a difficult job like Oakland. He is an Ann Arbor, Mich., native who knows the lay of the land in the State of Michigan. He also spent time as a professional scout for the Texas Rangers before spending two seasons as an assistant for Illinois-Springfield. Banfield parlayed that into two seasons as an assistant at UT Rio Grande Valley before spending a year in a unique role as the Scouting Director for the State of Arizona for Prep Baseball Report.

Banfield has wide-ranging experiences that makes the Oakland job an intriguing fit for him from a personal standpoint.

“I want to thank Steve Waterfield for selecting me as the next head coach of the Oakland University baseball program,” Banfield said. “Throughout the interview process it became clear that our vision for a first-class NCAA Division I baseball program and optimism for the future were closely aligned, and I am truly honored to be here. I have high expectations for Golden Grizzlies baseball moving forward and vow to do my absolute best to guide our players to success on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I look forward to developing our program culture and building a tradition that Oakland University can be proud of.”

Banfield was a bit of a dark horse candidate for the Oakland job. Former Central Michigan assistant and IMG coach Jeff Opalewski was considered the heavy favorite early in the process, while the Grizzlies also took a hard look at former Kentucky assistant and current Oklahoma State assistant Roland Fanning, while also taking a gander at former Indiana assistant and Cincinnati head coach Ty Neal. But in the end, it went with the young energy in Banfield.

Now, Oakland looks to make the NCAA tourney sooner rather than later. It won’t be easy, but there’s a new coach in town, and he hopes to deliver.

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