I am not going to lie to you all. I was born and raised on ETSU baseball. I can't e..."/> I am not going to lie to you all. I was born and raised on ETSU baseball. I can't e..."/>

UT welcomes Dave Serrano


I am not going to lie to you all. I was born and raised on ETSU baseball. I can’t even count the amount of camps I went to where ETSU coaches and players taught me how to become a better baseball player. My dream as a child was to be the first camper to become a player for ETSU. Unfortunately for ETSU, they offered a scholarship to some lame-o that went to camp once or twice. This news shattered my 13-year-old world.

However, when one door closes another opens. And that door was Tennessee. Now, hopefully I haven’t led you all to believe I play for Tennessee, because that would be incorrect, and go against everything I was raised on (only a blue and gold uniform would touch this collegiate athlete). However, as I transitioned out of my baseball playing days, I ended up at the University of Tennessee.

UT has been good to me, but not really on the baseball side of things. It isn’t that ETSU is a baseball powerhouse, but I assumed that when the SEC rose up to take over baseball, that Tennessee would join them. After all, Rod Delmonico had done some great work in the past, amassing a .638 winning percentage over his 18 years at the school. He coached major league talent like Chris Burke, Chase Headley and R.A. Dickey. He also coached perhaps the most famous Base-Vol ever, Todd Helton. However, when I arrived on campus they decided that it was time for a change.

Todd Raleigh came onto campus and quickly put together great recruiting classes. Unfortunately for both the team and those watching them play, they couldn’t quite use the talent for good. And with teams like Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia all consistently playing at a top-15 level, his years were not very memorable. He would end up with a .489 winning percentage, though most of his wins came against lower level teams. In fact, last year the team was 15-2 before they played their first SEC game. From the Kentucky series on the team went 10-27.

So, while the team finished 25-29, they went 7-23 in the SEC, that isn’t cutting it. I would also like to take this time to note that since Delmonico left, ETSU has swept the series against the Vols, that is, until they cowardly backed out of the annual home-and-home series. While I am not sure Raleigh had anything to do with that, it is interesting to note that under Serrano, the series is back this year.

On to the main point of the article, Dave Serrano. Dave Serrano is automatically a saint. I know, usually he needs to be canonized and all that stuff, but I am skipping it and giving him the title already. He left Cal State Fullerton to come to Tennessee. Baseball is huge out west, absolutely insane. And to leave a good school, one that has the talent and ability to go to the College World Series, and trek out to Tennessee and try and rebuild the program…a saint, I say.

Serrano was an assistant at UT for two years in the mid-90s and apparently that was all he needed to come back. His time in Knoxville saw Tennessee go to Omaha and set the school record for wins in 1995. The team won 54 games. Impressive. Hopefully he can rekindle a little bit of that magic on his return.

As a head coach Serrano turned around UC-Irvine’s program, leading them to their first ever College World Series in 2007. He won Baseball America’s National Coach of the Year that year. He then jumped to Cal State Fullerton where he led them to their 20th consecutive NCAA tournament. He also won Big West coach of the year the last two years. Serrano is one of only 11 coaches to lead two different teams to the College World Series.

Serrano will look to make that number 3 at Tennessee. He has the tools too, as he has never had a recruiting class that wasn’t in the top-20 in the nation, and has seen 16 teams make the postseason. This, in 17 years at the Div-1 level. His staff includes Associate Head Coach Greg Bergeron, Assistant Coach Bill Mosiello, and volunteer Assistant Coach Gregg Wallis.

He will face a tough schedule this year, but will hopefully make strides in the right direction. Heck, at this point, if he can win half of his SEC games he deserves a raise. He is doing good things in recruiting too, but it will all come down to what happens on the diamond.

February 17,2012.  This is the date the Serrano era will fully take effect. Northern Illinois comes to Knoxville and the first pitch is at 4 p.m. Here’s to hoping Serrano makes the College World Series and goes 3 for 3 as a head coach. I wish him the best, as we all know Knoxville needs some bright spot to cling to while football and basketball struggle.

So, on behalf of me and all my colleagues here, Good Luck Coach! We are happy to have you back here in Knoxville.