by Pat Dooley
If you haven’t heard (and apparently taking a vacation week really put me out of the loop), it appears that South Carolina baseball coach Ray Tanner could become the next athletic director at South Carolina.
To a lot of people, that seems odd for a couple of reasons. First, he has been to three straight College World Series finals and won two of them. His 2013 team loses a lot but not any more than the year before.
And second, what qualifies a baseball coach to be an athletic director? Shouldn’t South Carolina be looking for someone who is savvy with marketing and money?
The second part of that is a little baffling but LSU did the same thing with Skip Bertman, taking a legendary baseball coach and sliding him into the big chair. Maybe the theory is that if you can make a 25-man baseball team out of 11.7 scholarships you have an eye for numbers.
But to answer the first part of the question, I talked to a baseball coach who is as successful as any in the game. He told me he wouldn’t be surprised to see Tanner try to get the job.
“College baseball is a brutal game,” he said. “When I get enough money, I’m out.”
College baseball will wear you down. It’s hard enough just to run a successful program at the elite level in any sport. But no coaches have to deal with what baseball coach have to deal with on a yearly basis.
Their recruiting classes can be decimated by the draft. They have to try to bring in some of the best players in the country by offering them books and lunch. Then the draft kills them again three years later.
I was talking to Roland Thornqvist, the UF women’s tennis coach, about the Gators baseball team before regional play started and mentioned the draft.
“You mean they have the draft during the season?” he asked amazed.
Yep. So if Tanner puts on a suit and tie and goes to the front office, maybe it will be easy to understand why. It’s a brutal game to coach.