Late last night, news broke that Indiana baseball head coach Chris Lemonis would be leaving to take the same role at Mississippi State.
BREAKING: I’m hearing from sources that @IndianaBase head coach Chris Lemonis will be the next head coach at @HailStateBB, and that top #HailState assistant Jake Gautreau will stay on staff. If that doesn’t change, I really like that duo.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) June 25, 2018
Lemonis took over the IU role in 2014 from Tracy Smith, who left to coach at Arizona State. He came to IU after several years on Dan McDonnell’s staff in Louisville. In four years in Bloomington, Lemonis put up a 141-91-2 overall record (55-37-1 in the Big Ten). He also made three NCAA tournaments in his four years at IU, and produced several MLB draft picks during his time. Lemonis is known particularly as a good recruiter, and he was able to get talent on both side of the ball to come to IU.
Lemonis takes over a program that went on a Cinderella run to the College World Series this season under interim coach Gary Henderson, who took over after Andy Cannizaro was abruptly fired before the season started. The Bulldogs have made 7 of the past 8 NCAA tournaments and play home games at Dudy Noble Field, which seats over 13,000 people.
But now, Indiana baseball is at a crossroads. Lemonis continued the success that Smith built in Bloomington, but now it’s up to Fred Glass to find his successor. Tracy Smith is embattled at Arizona State right now, but he’s brought in great recruiting classes to Tempe recently and it still seems unlikely that he’ll leave to return to IU. In addition, the Big Ten has become increasingly competitive at baseball. Minnesota made a Super Regional this season, Mark Wasikowski has turned the program around at Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan usually field competitive teams, and Nebraska and Maryland have a history of success despite down seasons in 2018. So the next IU hire will be pivotal not just for keeping up the the recent tradition of success at Bart Kaufman Field, but also for keeping pace in the conference.