Thanksgiving Reflection And Looking To The Future

November 23, 2017 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

Head coach Joey Jones lifts the ‘Battle for the Belt’ championship belt for the third time in the last four years. | Photo Credit: Brad Puckett

South Alabama was shocked and never recovered in Statesboro last weekend. It was kind of like one of those boxing matches where the favored competitor comes out against an underdog and the underdog lands that stunner head blow and the favorite is never able to recover.

The Jags got punched, and punched hard. They didn’t recover either.

Most fans thought that their bowl aspirations were going to be dashed the week before when they hosted Arkansas State, who had never lost to USA in their five previous games. They never thought an 0-9 Georgia Southern was going to be the one to dash their hopes. Which may have been a contributing factor in the loss. In college football, you can never underestimate your opponent.

The Jags went down 7-0 on the first possession, then a turnover set up the Eagles to go up 14-0. By the end of the first quarter the Jags were down 21-0 and it only got worse from there. The Eagles took out a season worth of frustration out on the Jaguars and sent their seniors out with a win in their final home game.

By the time the game was over, the Jags had been handed their first shutout, lost their chance at getting bowl eligible, and probably marked the end of head coach Joey Jones’ tenure as the only head football coach in South Alabama history.

“I’ve never been involved in a game like the one we had tonight in all my years of coaching,” head coach Joey Jones said. “The game plan got away from us. Georgia Southern executed well. They’ve been making mistakes all year and shooting themselves in the foot, and then tonight, they didn’t do that at all.”

“It all ends with me,” Jones said in his post-game radio interview. “I’ve got to get my team better ready to play than that. Obviously, we had some scheme problems. We didn’t coach well on defense, we didn’t coach well on offense. One of those games that got away from us. … Just not a good night at all.”

Just two days later that was affirmed by Coach Jones’ announcement of his resignation effective at the end of his contract and he will coach the Jags final game on December 2nd at New Mexico State.

Then the next day after the announcement of his resignation, coach Jones said, “It’s been a blast. I’m happy for South Alabama. It’ll be in my heart forever.”

“The meeting yesterday was something I was dreading in a lot of ways, just to let them know I wasn’t going to be here anymore,” Jones said. “And it turned into one of the best days of my life. I was hugging them and they were crying on my shoulder for a minute. It was touching and it means a lot to me. I’ll carry that forever. I had about 395 texts yesterday, a lot of them former players and friends. Made me realize I did it for the right reasons.”

Junior linebacker Bull Barge said that the news was tough to take but has given the team a renewed focus with intentions to send Jones out a winner.

“Yesterday was tough,” Barge said. “We love coach a lot. To hear that yesterday, you wish you could have done more. As a man, it’s life. This game is a business. We’ve been taught that from the beginning. Right now, our focus is to send coach out on top, have one of the best games we’ve ever played this last game.”

Senior guard Harrison Louden said that coach Jones not only taught his team about football, but also to “be men off the field. … He was all about character. I think that’s what I’m going to carry with me more than anything.”

After starting 7-0 and 10-0 in their first two seasons as an unclassified program they began their climb toward FBS with a 6-4 record as an FBS independent in 2011. Then they became an FBS transitional team in 2012 they went 2-11 as they drastically stepped up their competition and got their first FBS win over Florida International. Then they have been unable to get over the six win hump records of: 6-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7 over the previous four seasons and currently sitting at 4-7 this season with one game remaining.

They notched some historic wins over the last two seasons as well. Wins over Mississippi State, their first Power 5 win, and San Diego State, their first win over a ranked opponent, in 2016. Then they knocked off Sun Belt front-runners Troy and Arkansas State this season.

Jones, 55, has a record of 52-49 with one game remaining in his 9th season leading South.

During his tenure Jaguar fans have seen:

  • Gerald Everett became the Jags’ first-ever NFL draft selection in April and is in his first season with the Los Angeles Rams.
  • 3 individuals selected to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine
  • 4 members of the program voted CoSIDA Academic All-District (highlighted by Trey Clark being selected the Jaguars’ first-ever Academic All-American)
  • 5 players invited to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl
  • 6 alumni currently active in the NFL and Canadian Football League
  • 24 former student-athletes received an opportunity to compete at the professional level
  • 43 times individuals earned all-Sun Belt recognition on the field over the last five years
  • 54 times an individual has been named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List
  • 92 times student-athletes have made the league’s Academic Honor Roll

After being a standout player at Murphy High School, Jones went on to be a standout player at the University of Alabama and named to Alabama’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s. He would play professionally with the Birmingham Stallions and Atlanta Falcons. He then began his coaching career in 1989 as an assistant coach at Briarwood Christian School. Two years later he was hired as the head coach at Dora. In 1996 he was hired as head coach at Mountain Brook HS and led the team to the Class 6A state championship game in 1996. He would go 101-27 in 10 seasons there.

He was then hired as the head coach at Birmingham-Southern to restart their football program and led them to a 1-7 record in Division II. He was then hired after the one season at BSC to start the program at South Alabama from scratch. He won the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 after going 6-6 in their first season as a full Sun Belt member and improving on a 2-11 record the previous season.

Coach Jones and his wife, Elise, have been invaluable to South Alabama and cannot be thanked enough. When he was hired he started pulling together a staff on the steps of the Mitchell Center and living out of a hotel for a couple of months. They worked out wherever they could, including an improvised weight room in a former student health center and professional business building.

Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and the administration has hired a search firm to aid them in identifying the next head coach. with a number of potential candidates being thrown around. Whoever takes over the helm of the program, they will be inheriting a solid foundation that Jones and his staff has worked hard to build. A great fieldhouse and adjoining practice fields. Soon the covered practice facility with restart construction after the partially constructed superstructure collapsed after a sudden summer thunderstorm exposed the inadequate bracing the builders had not put into place.

There has been talk of an on-campus stadium since day one of the program. As much as fans complain about it, the fans and school are all lucky the City of Mobile has Ladd-Peebles Stadium that the Jags could use as their home stadium since the beginning and for the foreseeable future. Without it who knows if football would have gotten started or how the funds to start the program would have been used as they would have possibly spent funds to outfit a location to play.

  • As for those potential candidates, these are a few names that have been mentioned for the job are:
    John Grass, Jacksonville State head coach who has won four-consecutive conference championships and reached the FCS title game in 2015
  • Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama defensive coordinator, he’s never been a head coach and is currently making over $1 million per year
  • Tee Martin, Southern California offensive coordinator, he was a standout at Williamson HS before leading Tennessee to the 1998 BCS national championship
  • Kevin Sherrer, Georgia linebackers coach, was USA’s defensive coordinator in 2013, spent time on the Alabama staff but is reportedly a candidate to become defensive coordinator at Florida State
  • Kevin Steele, Auburn defensive coordinator, was a serious candidate for the position when coach Jones was hired in 2007 but has a terrible 9-36 overall record as head coach at Baylor and 1-31 Big 12 record from 1999-2002.
  • Chip Lindsey, Auburn offensive coordinator, he’s never been a head coach but has run successful offenses at Southern Miss and Auburn
  • Will Hall, Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator, has a 56-20 record as head coach at West Alabama and West Georgia in Division II football and played at North Alabama, winning the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II equivalent of the Heisman) as quarterback at North Alabama in 2003, when current USA AD Joel Erdmann was AD at UNA
  • Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas head coach, he is 33-14 in four seasons at UCA including 10-1 this season. He’s a Pensacola native, played center at Troy and was a graduate assistant for Pat Dye at Auburn. He also led Delta State to a Division II national championship in 1999 and won a junior-college national title at Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2007
  • Rhett Lashlee, UConn offensive coordinator, played for Gus Malzahn in high school before coaching with him as a graduate assistant then offensive coordinator at both Arkansas State and Auburn
  • Mario Cristobol, Oregon offensive coordinator, went 27-57 as head coach at FIU and took them to their only two bowl games in program history. He was then on the Alabama football staff from 2013-2016 as offensive line coach
  • Matt Luke, Ole Miss interim head coach, he was thrown to the wolves after Hugh Freeze resigned just before the season started amid scandals. He has been an assistant coach there since 2012 and served as co-offensive coordinator before being named interim head coach. He is Mississippi through and through, playing at Gulfport HS, then Ole Miss. He was a graduate assistant there in 1999, then came back from 2002-2005 then came back again in 2012
  • David Reeves, UAB defensive coordinator, he was a former Alabama high school coach who joined former Jag defensive coordinator in Jacksonville State in 2013, then joined him at UAB in 2014 as defensive line coach then became the defensive coordinator this season when the Blazers restarted their program
  • Kodi Burns, Auburn co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, He’s only in his sixth season as an assistant coach. He was a former wide receiver at Auburn and has had coaching stints at Arkansas State, Arizona State, Middle Tennessee and Samford
  • Butch Jones, former Tennessee head coach, he started his head coaching career at Central Michigan after Brian Kelly left for Cincinnati, he then moved to Cincinatti after Kelly again left for Notre Dame. He then took over at Tennessee replacing Derek Dooley and finished with a 34-27 record there and a 14-24 SEC record. But his reputation of verbal abuse may not make him a desirable candidate. His first season at Tennessee was shakey after the Jags, down by eight points, mounted a last-minute drive to tie the game, but was intercepted in the end zone

Over the past 10 years, the South Alabama campus has changed in so many ways since they started football. New buildings, updated sports facilities, additional dorms, and increased enrollment. What the next 10 years holds only time will tell. For the first time, the Jags are searching for a new head coach. It will be interesting to see who makes it through the coaching carousel, ends up on the final list and eventually gets hired and how it impacts recruiting with early signing period coming up in mid-December and national signing day in February.

As we hear more, we’ll keep you informed.

Replay Official Reprimanded By Conference Officials For Blown Call In USA – UNT Game

November 14, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama received some news on Tuesday from the Sun Belt Conference office concerning the Jaguars game against North Texas last weekend. The Sun Belt Conference issued a formal reprimand of two of the Conference’s replay officials, including the replay official working the South Alabama vs North Texas game.

With the Jags trailing North Texas 24-14, Jaguar defensive back Tyrell Pearson picked off a pass and returned it down the left sideline. He was then knocked out of bounds near the goal line and officials on the field ruled that he had fumbled the ball and it had hit the pylon before going out of bounds. That ruling meant that the ball was a touchback, giving the Mean Green the ball back at their own 20 yard line.

It went to a review and the play was upheld.

However, the video clearly shows the fumble going out of bound around the 1 yard line and that the ball did not the pylon. The correct ruling should have been that it was the Jaguars ball with a first and goal at the 1 yard line.

In the press release the Conference recognized the blown call in announcing the reprimand. Additionally the replay officials involved have been placed on probation and will be removed from consideration to work a post-season bowl game.

Another replay official working the Arkansas State vs Louisiana-Monroe game from last Thursday night were also reprimanded, placed on probation and will not be considered for a postseason bowl game.

“Instant replay was established to ‘get calls right’ that are questionable on the field,” said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson. “Our coaches, student athletes and fans deserve quality performance in the instant replay booth just like they do from the officials on the field. South Alabama and ULM have received apologies and the two instant replay officials are hereby reprimanded.”

As mentioned above, the Jags were trailing 24-14 with 2:40 left in the third quarter. If the Jags had retained possession they were poised to score a touchdown from the one yard line to cut the Mean Green lead to three points heading into the fourth quarter.

“It is unfortunate, but it definitely had a major impact on the game,” head coach Joey Jones said. “It would have made it a three-point game and it would have changed our whole offense philosophy in the fourth quarter. But I admire the Sun Belt Conference and the commissioner for admitting to (the mistake) and being completely honest about it.”

South Alabama Athletics Director Joel Erdmann told the Press Register that he appreciates what the Conference did in this instance. “I’d like to commend the commissioner and the conference’s actions in our specific instance,” Erdmann said. “It reinforces the stakes that are at play within the game of FBS football. Often times, a game’s outcome hangs in the balance of a hand full of plays. Thus, the increased importance on accuracy.”

“We deeply appreciate the conference and the officials and the coordinator of officials because we know that they work hard every day to prepare themselves to make the best decisions and call the best games that they can.”

BREAKING NEWS: Mike Varga Out As Jaguar Soccer Coach

November 5, 2012 · Filed Under News, Soccer · 3 Comments 

South Alabama Athletic Director Joel Erdmann announced that the University will not renew the contract for head soccer coach Mike Varga and that a national search for his replacement will begin immediately.

Varga has been the head coach at South Alabama for the last 14 seasons and compiled a 121-131-26 record over that time period. He also led them to a share of the 2000 Sun Belt Conference regular-season title. He also led them to the championship match in the 2005 conference tournament.

Coach Varga has a record of 186-155-32 in his 18 seasons as a head coach. He was previously the head coach at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee.

The Jags were 8-10-3 this season and hosted the Sun Belt Conference soccer championship tournament at The Cage on campus. The Jags, a #7 seed in the eight team tournament, were eliminated in the first round by Middle Tennessee State.

“Mike has been a loyal and trustworthy member of the University and Jaguar Athletics,” Erdmann said. “We deeply appreciate his service and wish him the best in all future endeavors.”

“We will conduct a national search beginning immediately,” he continued. “The search is wide open and and we will pursue the best-qualified candidate for our program.”

AD Erdmann Interviewed On WNSP

March 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

University of South Alabama Athletic Director Dr. Joel Erdmann was on the Morning Sports Drive on WNSP with Lee Shirvanian and Mark Heim on Friday. Joel and Lee were both in Hot Springs, Arkansas for the Sun Belt Conference tournament that gets underway on Saturday.

Lee immediately spoke about the football schedule that was released the day before, on Thursday. Lee asked if Joel requested Troy as the Jaguars first Sun Belt game. Joel said that he did not and it’s not really up to the school to request such things. He did say that the schools do know who they will be playing and where they will be playing for the next four to six years. However the dates are not set and the schools can can “suggest” open dates to the conference, who actually sets the conference schedules.

Back to the schedule itself, Dr. Erdmann said that the schedule is very well paced with rotating home-away games. It’s good for the team and good for the fans. It has a greath rhythm to it.

Lee followed up asking if they were all going to be Saturday games, as they are currently scheduled, or if there were any possibilities of Jaguar games being picked up by the Sun Belt Network for television. Dr. Erdmann said that they are all scheduled for Saturday’s and that the times are still TBA. It is doubtful that the Jags will get a SBC televised game since South Alabama will not be eligible for the championship or post-season play.

Lee then transitioned over to the new Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson and said that he was scheduled to have a press conference tomorrow in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Since Benson’s announcement as the new Sun Belt commissioner, there have been wide discussion for the conference to move to 12 football schools. Dr. Erdmann said it would be good if the conference can find good matches in schools for the conference within the region and that they want it to be discussed.

Back to the Jags schedule, Joel said that three of the four home Sun Belt games will be against teams who played in a bowl game over the last two seasons.

Lee asked about scheduling Nebraska, asking if it was for money or if it was because of their name. Erdmann stated that it was more because of the game; it helps with recruiting. But it is also depends if the date works for both schools and other factors.

Rounding out the interview, Lee asked if South Alabama is looking to schedule more teams to home-and-away series or 2-for-1’s. Erdmann said that they are looking to schedule more series and try to get some big name schools to visit Mobile like they have scheduled with Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and N.C. State.

Nebraska Added to 2015, 2019 Football Schedules

February 23, 2012 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 
South Alabama Coaches

South Alabama Coaches talking together before the NC State game.

South Alabama Athletic Director Dr. Joel Erdmann officially announced a two-game contract between the Jags and the Nebraska Cornhuskers from the Big Ten conference.

The jags will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska twice. Their first game is scheduled on September 12, 2015 and the second game is set as the season opener on August 31, 2019.

In 2015, the Sun Belt will the first year conference schools will have a nine-game schedule. The Jags non-conference games that year already include hosting NC State in Mobile and a trip to Annapolis, Maryland.

As for the 2019 season, the Jags are schedule to also have the nine-game conference schedule with the only other non-conference game confirmed is a September 28th trip to New Orleans to play Tulane.

In the upcoming 2012 season the Jags have non-conference games again NC State, Mississippi State and Hawaii on the road plus University of Texas-San Antonio and Nicholls State both in Mobile. The 2012 season will feature 13 games for the Jags as a NCAA rule allows teams to schedule an additional game if they travel to Hawaii to play.

Other teams the Jags will face in the near future are LSU (2016), Tennessee (2013), Georgia (2014), Ole Miss (2017), Mississippi State (2012, 2014 in Mobile, 2016), Oklahoma State (2017 in Mobile, 2018, 2020), NC State (2011 loss in Raleigh, 2012, 2015 in Mobile), Southern Miss (2020, 2021 in Mobile), Navy (2013, 2014 in Mobile, 2015, 2016 in Mobile), Louisiana Tech (2017, 2018 in Mobile), Tulane (2013, 2019, 2020 in Mobile) and Kent State (2011 loss in Ohio, 2013 in Mobile, 2014).

Head football coach Joey Jones remarked about the addition of the Cornhuskers to the Jags future schedule. “We’ve got another team to add to the list of many that we’re playing, big-time schools. This excites our players and everyone else in the football program. We know that every year we are going to play two or three big-time teams around the country. That’s what we want to do, we are looking forward to it. I don’t think it’s so much the conference than just looking to play the top-20 type teams in the country. We’d love to play USC or Oregon one day too, we want to play those caliber of teams, to get to that level, we have to face them. That’s why we’re doing it.”

South Alabama completed their fourth practice of the spring this morning and will hold their first Saturday practice in two days with their spring football game scheduled for 2pm on Saturday March 24th.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-08-23

August 24, 2011 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · 1 Comment 
Baker and Jones

Coach Jones looks on as Demetre Baker looks to the sideline before blocking for a field goal attempt.

The Joey Jones Radio Show started season three with host Lee Shirvanian and guest Joel Erdmann today.

They started the show off by talking about the depth chart now that they are finished with preseason camp and are into game prep mode. The first thing that Lee asked coach Jones about were there any surprises that emerged that he wasn’t thinking about. Coach Jones said that they don’t have many changes.

He mentioned on the offensive line that Levi Slaydon did not return so they had to fill that position. Jermaine Smith and Brian Krauskopf have stepped up and are neck-and-neck for that starting job. Other than that change, the offensive line is the same as last season. At tight end it is pretty much the same with Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett there. A little bit of a change will be the backfield with the addition of Georgia transfer Demetre Baker with Kendall Houston. He indicated that they would be co-starters in the backfield.

When coach Jones moved onto receivers, he mentioned that they have more names out there than they did last year. Last year Courtney Smith was the big name and the other receivers were ‘the others’.

Lee then started talking about the defense and mentioned that there were many familiar names on that side of the ball. He first mentioned Cori Barnett at the Sam position with Ken Barefield as his backup. Barefield played defensive back last season for the Jags.

When asked about how Cori emerged as being a starter, Coach Jones said that he had a great spring and awarded him with a scholarship for how well he did in the off-season. He mentioned that he is a bit undersized but still plays very well, he’s smart and knows all the answers to questions over on defense. Ken will still play alot.

Read more

Jags on TV and quotes from Coach Gregory

August 11, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Coach Gregory

Coach Greg Gregory from

Speaking about quarterback C.J. Bennett: I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama.

Announced TV dates and Kickoff times

South Alabama announced Wednesday evening that the Jaguars first televised game will not be the North Carolina State game as first thought. Actually it will be much sooner than the September 17th game.

Dr. Joel Erdmann, USA’s Athletic Director, announced that South Alabama’s season opening matchup against West Alabama will be aired live locally on UTV 44 as well as being aired nationally on ESPN3. While he was at it, he announced the kickoff times for the first four games of the season.

South Alabama and West Alabama will kickoff at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 1 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Jim Cox will handle the play-by-play, Dan Brennan will handle the color analysis and Pat Greenwood will handle sideline reporting for the broadcast. Actually Pat Greenwood will being handling sideline reporting for both WNSP’s radio broadcast and the television broadcast.

South Alabama’s first ever game against a FBS team will take place in Raleigh, North Carolina against NC State which can also be viewed on ESPN3. Kickoff is scheduled for 5pm Central time and will be the Jags first road game of the season.

Other kickoff times that were announced were games against Lamar on September 10 with kickoff at 4pm and the second FBS opponent for the Jags on the road at Kent State will kickoff at 2:30pm Central time. Other times will be officially announced in the future. However according to the season tickets, home games against Tennessee-Martin, Henderson State and Cal Poly will all kickoff at 4pm. The Thursday night game against Mississippi Valley State will kickoff at 6:30pm. is currently available to over 70 million homes across the country to fans who receive high-speed internet from providers who are affiliated with ESPN.

Dan’s inteview with Coach Greogory

Dan of Dan and Shelby, the morning show for local radio station 95WKSJ, has a football blog on the 95KSJ website. On Wednesday he was able to speak to Coach Greg Gregory about the upcoming season.

I will hit some of the notable pieces from the article. When asked to compare South Alabama to his former school, the University of South Florida who is arguably the measuring stick for modern start-up program. Coach Gregory said that “There is no doubt South Alabama will get to the same level as USF prior to them getting in the Big East.” He continued, “I think this program can go as far as the administration wants it to go.”

Another big question that everyone has for the 2011 Jaguars is how will the offensive line do when facing such an upgraded schedule. “We block better than a lot of football teams that you see on tape. I think we have enough talent to compete with anybody we play. I don’t really worry about our line. They are tough and they are going to compete. I don’t think it will be a major issue for us.”

Probably the answer that will get the most scrutiny by people around the state is when he is asked to evaluate quarterback C.J. Bennett. “Even when he came in last year as a 17 year old, all along I knew he’d be our guy,” said Coach Gregory. “I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama. He’s a player. He can really throw it. Smart, sees things. When he tells you something happened on the field, that’s what happened. He is very polished. And he’s very excited to be here. He’s as accurate as you want, has as quick a release and the biggest thing is his willingness to pull the trigger. He’s got the best release I’ve ever been around.”

With Brandon Ross set to miss probably the first half of the season at least, Coach Gregory had some good thoughts on the Jaguar backfield. Kendall Houston picked up the role of being the big, hard running back where Ross left off after the injury. But this season he will have some help with the addition of Demetre Baker from the University of Georgia. Coach Gregory said that, “Baker has more flat out speed. Both of them are violent runner. They run the ball hard. Kendall’s probably a little more reliable right now at holding the onto the ball but Demetre’s a really good player.”

Go on over and read the whole write-up. He talks about replacing Courtney Smith, Jereme Jones place at receiver and transfer B.J. Scott possibly playing a part on offense in the future.

Jaguars Add December 1, 2012 trip to Hawaii to schedule

May 12, 2011 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

South Alabama Athletic Director Joel Erdmann announced on Wednesday that the Jaguars will round out the 2012 football season with a trip to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 1. While the team will not be bowl eligible until the 2013 season, this is a great winter trip that they can treat as a bowl-like game.

The 2012 season will be the Jaguars first season playing a Sun Belt schedule with additional games against Mississippi State, North Carolina State and now Hawaii as well.

Dr. Erdmann said, “We are tremendously excited about this game, as it will be the last in our journey to full NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and Sun Belt Conference membership. We are fortunate that the trip will be financed by the University of Hawaii, as it is a single game at their stadium and not a home-and-home series. We encourage our fans to clear their calendars and join us for this memorable trip.”

The 2012 season will feature eight games against Sun Belt Conference opponents. Additionally with NCAA bylaws that allow programs that play outside of the continental United States, the Jaguars will be able to add a 13th game to the schedule since they can exclude the game against the Rainbow Warriors from the maximum number allowed.

Other opponents already lined up to round out the schedule are road games against Mississippi State, North Carolina State and a vist by Texas-San Antonio.

Head coach Joey Jones commented by saying, “That will be our first year playing a Sun Belt Conference schedule, we’ll also face Mississippi State and North Carolina State and now we have Hawaii at the end of the year. We’re not bowl eligible that year, so for us it’s like a bowl that’s been built into the schedule. Our players, as well as everyone else in the program, are very excited to play that game at their place at the end of the season. Most of them haven’t been there, so I think it will be exciting for us to play a quality program like Hawai’i and have a fun trip as well.”

Go Jags!

Mark Calvi From South Carolina Named Head Coach In Waiting

July 15, 2010 · Filed Under Baseball, News · Comment 

South Alabama formally announced the hiring of Mark Calvi as the ‘coach-in-waiting’ to replace Coach Steve Kittrell at the end of the 2011 season. Coach Kittrell announced his intentions to retire back in June.

Calvi was the pitching coach for the University of South Carolina, who just won the College World Series. He was named associate head coach and ‘head coach in waiting’ on Thursday and will be formally introduced on Friday at 1pm at a press conference at the Mitchell Center. Calvi will be only the fifth head coach in the South Alabama baseball program.

Athletic Director Joel Erdmann received interest from several qualified candidate, but chose Mark in the end. Erdmann stated the following about Calvi, “Obviously, we’re very excited about hiring Mark. He brings not only a wealth of coaching experience to the table, but a demeanor and various intangibles that are going to make him a great member of this family. A facet of the game that we looked deeply at was pitching, and his background in that area — as well as in recruiting, and his familiarity with the Sun Belt Conference, the southeast region and the nation — is very impressive. Mark has been with two very, very good programs, and he has demonstrated loyalty and longevity to those schools. And the key is that he has had success — success that includes conference championship levels and Regionals, while rising to Super Regionals and Omaha on the way to a national championship.”

Calvi has spent the previous six seasons at South Carolina and helped the Gamecocks to rank amon the SEC and NCAA leaders in pitching. He also spent 11 years at Sun Belt Conference foe Florida International. He has worked with 35, an impressive number, of pitchers that have either been drafted or signed with Major League teams.

This past season where the Gamecocks won the National Championship, his staff ranked in the top 10 nationally in ERA (3.75 7th in nation), strikeouts (8.9, 6th) and hits allowed (7.48 3rd) per 9 innings. While in the College World Series they posted a 2.15 ERA. The Gamecocks also finished the season with a sub 4.00 ERA and reached the NCAA Regional each of his six seasons in Columbia, SC.

While at Florida International, they advanced to the NCAA Regional seven times and the 2001 Super Regional. In 1995, the Golden Panther staff led the country with an ERA of 2.40. Add in their 16 shutouts which ties them with the 6th highest total in NCAA history.

Calvi is 41 and a native of Marco Island, FL.

Welcome to the Jaguar Nation Coach Calvi. You have big shoes to fill but we think you are the man to do it.

Are Some South Alabama Fans Calling For A Coaching Change?

May 30, 2010 · Filed Under Athletic Department, Baseball · Comment 

In this mornings Sound Off in the Mobile Press-Register, a reader wrote in criticizing the Jaguar baseball coaching staff. This is rightly so, the team has not performed well since 2006 and the ERA lately has been over 6. So, what is the Athletics Department to do?

With Coach Kitrell’s past success and general likability in the community, it would be a hard sell to fire him. It doesn’t seem like Coach K wants to retire either. However, they might be able to convince him that this would be the best for the program. Either way, what do you do?

Probably the most likely to happen is a shake-up in the staff. Pitching is definitely an area where the bullseye would probably fall. Another area where things could change would be the position of recruiting coordinator.
Recruiting is definitely a tough area for College Baseball. When good high school players graduate, their first inclination is to try to make it in the Minor Leagues. This is the shorter route to possibly making it to the Major Leagues. If they go to college, they may get drafted early in their collegiant career and go play in the Minors. But again, because it’s the shortest route, you don’t go from College to the Majors.

South Alabama and the other programs must have top notch recruiters in order to convince these kids to come to their program. Currently, pitching is at a premium. Which is why you see major league pitchers receiving high paying deals while clubs are scouring minor league teams for the next pitching prospect.

So what is the answer for the South Alabama baseball program? I think it’s too early after the major letdown at the end of the season to determine that. This may be the first major decision the new Athletic Director Joel Erdmann will have to face at South Alabama.

Would Luis Gonzalez like to become a college baseball coach? It could be a big boom in recruiting and his alma mater might be searching.

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