In 1997, the University of Iowa needed a baseball coach to replace the retiring Duane Banks. The finalists were Hawkeyes assistant coach Scott Broghamer, Arizona State assistant coach Doug Scheiber, and Cal State Northridge head coach Mike Batesole.
“In the final evaluation I selected a person who exemplifies the values, professional qualities and personal characteristics we were seeking,” then-U of I athletic director Bob Bowlsby said in a prepared statement.
Batesole, 33 at the time, had a two-year record of 94-38 at Northridge when the school disbanded its baseball program because of budget cuts and gender-equity issues. The Matadors had been one win from a College World Series berth in 1996.
Broghamer resigned in 2003 after a six-year record of 123-183. Jack Dahm was hired from Creighton to replace him and is the coach today. Iowa hasn’t had anything resembling a sniff of a CWS appearance under Dahm or his predecessor.
And Batesole? Well, he stayed at Northridge and won more than he lost even though the team was forced to compete as an independent from 1997 to 2000 after the program was axed. The program was reinstated in 2001. In 2002, Batesole was the Big West Conference’s Coach of the Year, then left to take the head coaching job at Fresno State, where he just finished his sixth season.
Wednesday, the Fresno State Bulldogs capped a highly unlikely and totally extraordinary run to the NCAA championship.
Could Batesole have done likewise at Iowa, or even come close? Who knows? But watching his gutsy team play on TV over the last week, you knew it had a coach with the right stuff.
Hawkeye baseball, meanwhile, has been a non-story for a long, long time.
Bowlsby is now Stanford’s athletic director. Stanford reached this year’s CWS. But Bowlsby didn’t have to hire the coach there. Mark Marquess has over 1,300 wins in 32 years as the Cardinal’s coach.
Sometimes you inherit a great coach. Sometimes you have to hire one yourself. The latter is quite a bit harder.