Coaches With The Tough RoadsColumns
HOOVER, Ala. — Sometimes situations just don’t go as planned, or perhaps some extra, unwanted, patience is needed.
When Tennessee parted ways with coach Todd Raleigh six years ago, you couldn’t have come up with a hotter name to hire than Dave Serrano. Serrano was a former Vols assistant, led UC Irvine to the College World Series and was having success with Cal State Fullerton before heading to Tennessee to partake in the challenge of his coaching career – turning the Vols back into a respectable program in the rugged Southeastern Conference.
The same path was traveled by Georgia just a few years later. After parting ways with long-time head coach Dave Perno back in 2013 after not making the postseason two-straight years, the Bulldogs went out and made a splash hire with the addition of Scott Stricklin. Stricklin, who had some Georgia roots, was one of the hottest names in college baseball. He led Kent State to the CWS in 2012 with a 47-20 overall record and followed up that campaign with a very respectable showing in 2013 before heading to Athens, Ga., for a bout with the SEC.
He, like Serrano, was supposed to turn the tide of the program, with many expecting it to be done in short order.
Now, two of the game’s better coaches are struggling to find their way in the SEC, with plenty of rumblings out there that Serrano might be on his way out at Tennessee, while others in Georgia are left wondering if Stricklin will ever get things turned around despite his impeccable pedigree.
Such is life in the SEC.
“We’re in a rebuilding phase. We took what was given to us, and we have to rebuild this program. And when you’re trying to rebuild in the toughest conference in the country, while also having having teams like Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State around you recruiting. It’s a tough task,” Stricklin said after his team as eliminated from the SEC tournament by Ole Miss. “But, it’s a task that we volunteered for, and I feel like the foundation has been set moving forward.
“I think recruiting in baseball goes back a little bit now, and kids that are freshmen in high school are already committing. So, we’re going to see some guys we recruited when we got here and show up next year,” he continued. “We feel like we’ve made some progress, but at the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses. We understand that as coaches and the losses have been very disappointing, but I can tell you the future of Georgia baseball is very bright now.”
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