As you know by now, Mike Gambino will be officially named as Boston College's baseball coach today, replacing Mik Aoki. I'm honored to have Brian Foley, editor of The College Baseball Blog, here as a guest-blogger to discuss the new era of Boston College baseball being ushered in. Brian gives his views on the state of the program and even breaks some transfer news.
STG: Mik Aoki has recently left Boston College and gone to our Catholic enemies, Notre Dame. Though he was only around the Heights for four years, he was able to boast several accomplishments. What will Aoki's legacy at BC be?
Brian: Aoki's legacy will be that loss to Texas in the Regional round and how he brought that team to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1967. Tony Sanchez and Mike Belfiore were recruited under the previous head coach Pete Hughes so he was living off of his predecessors recruits as the current BC team is fully Mik's recruits and they aren't that strong anymore.
You really have to question whether the BC team that made the NCAA Tourney in 2009 was Mik or Pete getting the kids into the program as Virginia Tech is on the rise right now.
STG: Boston College was fairly quick to hire former Eagle player, assistant coach, and current Hokie assistant coach Mike Gambino. What can you tell us about him?
Brian: Gambino is a very young individual to lead an ACC program as he is only 32 years old which makes him the second youngest coach in the conference after Erik Bakich at Maryland. Gambino has many connections to pro baseball as he has worked in the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers systems while working for the last four years with Pete Hughes at Virginia Tech.
STG: Boston College interviewed several candidates for the vacancy, including current assistant Steve Englert and Gino DiMare, a former assistant at Miami. Some of the names being floated were impressive; was Gambino the best fit for the job BC could have achieved?
Brian: If we look at this objectively, this is an interesting hire as Gambino has never been the top assistant coach in charge of recruiting in his career yet. It is very big jump from being the second assistant at an ACC program to being the guy that is running the program. BC is not a job coaches covet as they only have one full-time assistant coach which is pathetic for an ACC program. The only coach that was up for other jobs that interviewed at BC is Wright State's Rob Cooper who is highly regarded including a stint with Team USA as an assistant coach.
STG: The Eagles have lost arguably their three best players, Pat Dean, John Spatola, and Mickey Wiswall, going forward. Even with Aoki, I thought the Eagles would take a hit next year; in the short-term, what does 2011 hold in store for Gambino and his team?
Brian: Gambino will need to rebuild the pitching staff as Dean leaves the program as the number 1 guy. Mike Dennhardt will have to step into the number 1 starter role but he has been up and down this summer down the Cape where he is 1-3 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts. John Leonard has been about the same with a 3-2 record and an ERA of 1.76 in five starts. According to a source, Andrew Del Colle has decided to transfer out of the program as he was expected to contribute more during his sophomore year but had a terrible freshman campaign.
The hitters are not that great with Brad Zapenas and Anthony Melchoinda being the top two returning hitters. Neither of them are elite pro prospects and I don't see many pro prospects on the BC team besides Matt Watson who will be selected in the 2012 draft.
STG: Mik Aoki was able to bring in some good talent and compete in the stacked ACC despite poor facilities (though supposedly we're working on it), a smaller fan base, and a colder climate. Thinking long-term now, what's the prognosis for the Eagles program with Gambino at the helm, and what does BC have to do to stay relevant?
Brian: Gambino needs to get out there and protect his area. I was watching a Team USA game the other day and John Manuel of Baseball America stated that "Clemson represents New England in the College World Series." This has to be an embarrassment to BC baseball that a national writer would say this about the New England area. We also see Vanderbilt continuing to come to New England to get kids like Jason Esposito and Kevin Ziomek to name two players.
UConn is far ahead of the BC program in terms of talent on the team and they are developing the best program in New England right now.
Once again, thanks very much to Brian for joining me today. You may check out his work at The College Baseball Blog and follow his blog on Twitter @TheCBB or him personally @BFoley82.