NCAA: The AZ State Sun Devils Look for a New Baseball Coach

The 2015 season will certainly see significant changes for the AZ State Sun Devil baseball team, as the Sun Devils will not only have a new stadium, when they move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, but they will also have a new head coach leading the team.

Tim Esmay, who had one year left on his contract, met with the new AD Ray Anderson and decided to step down immediately after five years as the leader of the program. The search for a new baseball coach will begin for only the fifth time in the school’s baseball history.

Tim Esmay was a true Sun Devil. He played for two seasons as an infielder under Jim Brock in 1986 and 1987 and was a member of Brock’s coaching staff from 1988 to 1990, and again in 1994. He was an assistant head coach under Pat Murphy from 2005-2009 and was named interim head coach in December of 2009. He took over the full time head coaching position in February of 2010 and led the Sun Devils to a 52-10 record, a regular season Pac-10 title and a College World Series appearance during his first season. He leaves AZ State with an overall head coaching record of 201-94-1 and 38 Sun Devils have been taken in the MLB Draft in coach Esmay’s tenure at AZ State. That is the most of any Division One school during those five years. However Ray Anderson felt the program took a step back and has talked about getting the Sun Devils back to being one of the elite programs in college baseball again.

There will be numerous names on the possible Head Coach list and several of those individuals will come in for interviews, as this is one of the top coaching spots in college baseball. The Sun Devils have won at least 30 games or more for 52 straight years and continue to play one of the toughest schedules in college baseball. I am not going to predict names of potential replacements for Esmay, but I can tell you most fans of Sun Devil baseball would like to see someone who has “ties” to the baseball program. Look for AD Ray Anderson to consider that, as there are some former Sun Devil players who are coaches in major/minor league baseball. However Anderson did say that will not be his top priority when he begins his search. Head coaches from schools around the nation, both well-known schools and smaller schools, will be considered. Anderson will also look for coaches’ right here in the greater Phoenix area.

One thing is for sure, whoever gets hired as the next Head Coach of the AZ State Sun Devils baseball team needs to retain current Sun Devils’ Pitching Coach, Ken Knutson, and Assistant Coach, Mike Benjamin.  (There are no reports yet on if either of these coaches has resigned after Esmay stepped down.) Both Knutson and Benjamin know the players that will be returning next year. With another outstanding recruiting class coming in, and returning pitchers Ryan Burr, Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg; and with everyday players like Trever Allen, Nate Causey, Dalton DiNatale, Jake Peeveyhouse, and Johnny Sewald, assuming they stay at AZ State, it will be a good team that will be ready to take the field for the 2015 season.

Follow me on Twitter: @Basebaldaz and listen to me on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 PHX for AZ Sports Talk Saturday from 10AM to 1PM AZ time.

 

Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall

I have lived in Phoenix for over 45+ years. I am an avid baseball, basketball, football and hockey fan. My favorite teams are the local professional sports teams yes even the Phx Mercury, as well as THE Arizona State Sun Devils. My favorite sport is baseball. I am a collector of baseball memorabilia. My favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. I enjoy attending live sporting events and I am a season ticket holder for the Arizona Cardinals. I enjoy traveling the state of Arizona with my lovely wife Patti.

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