Fall Report: Arizona StateFall Report
PHOENIX — You can argue it, but I’m willing to bet no coach went into the fall workouts with more of a sense of purpose and with more fire than Arizona State’s Tracy Smith.
In case you haven’t heard, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson publicly stated after last season’s second consecutive 23-32 campaign in Tempe that the 2019 season is a “very important year for us” and he expects to see “significant improvement.” To cut through the media friendly language, Sun Devil baseball needs to win or else this coming spring.
When I talked with coach Smith last week at the conclusion of fall practice, he certainly didn’t shy away from acknowledging that the pressure is on him and his staff.
“I know this sounds cliche,” the ASU head coach said while working out in the baseball weight room. “But I put more pressure on myself than anybody outside this locker room does. When you’re trying to build something like we are here you’re going to go through some tough times, and we have. But I’m confident in what we have here moving forward.”
Just to show you the mindset of the fan base, at the same time Anderson was giving a vote of confidence to his baseball coach an online twitter poll by Arizona Central Sports last May showed that 69 percent of the respondents wanted to have coach Smith fired. Seventeen percent voted to keep him and 14 percent were unsure. So there are plenty of howls to get new leadership to a program with a long history of success in college baseball.
“People are going to say, ‘What’s going on at Arizona State?’ And that’s fine,” Smith said. “To which I say, ‘You know what, we’re OK.’ You’re going to see an older team this year. We have guys that have been here a few years and the talent level represents more of what they’re used to around here.”
Smith is undeterred and undistracted in his pursuit to live up to his own expectations. All that noise is just water off a duck’s back to him.
“I feel good with this group, I really do,” Smith said about his team during fall drills. “I feel good about our locker room. I feel good with where we are headed.”