Blue Raider baseball continues coaching tradition
The Middle Tennessee athletic department ended its month-long national search last Thursday when Jim McGuire was officially named head coach as the replacement to Coach Steve Peterson.
McGuire has been on the Blue Raider bench for 20 years as an assistant under his long-time friend and mentor, but the 49-year-old will now get a chance to carve out his own legacy in one of the most exclusive jobs in college sports.
McGuire is only the third member of a coaching tree that spanned 39 years, beginning when John Stanford left his post as MT head coach after 14 years to become the program’s athletic director. Peterson, an assistant at the time, was named Stanford’s replacement and immediately began to build on that tradition and retired this July as a hall of famer, as well as the school’s all-time winningest coach with 791 victories over 25 seasons.
Athletic director Chris Massaro believes McGuire can build on that success, and said the university is quite pleased with their selection.
“I think more than anything, we wanted a person in here who could consistently win championships and get us to Omaha, as well as graduating the student athletes,” Massaro said. “Jim does a lot of the right things, and we feel he can get us [there].”
The Belleville, Ill., native will not be entering into this opportunity unprepared.
McGuire has spent time as the recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and has worked with the middle infielders during his Middle Tennessee tenure. He was named associate head coach following the 2000 season, and coached under that title for 11 years before being named the interim head coach on July 5.
Among those players he helped coach in his 20 years with the program, 98 players were named first-team all-conference, 58 went on to be drafted by professional teams, 10 were chosen as All-Americans and six received the conference’s player of the year honors.
One quality that has particularly impressed those around the Blue Raider program is his relationships with players and recruits.
“We were looking for a guy who would be a relentless recruiter, not only in Middle Tennessee, but in the state of Tennessee and also regionally. The players on the team and those he coached in the past have really strong feelings for him. That speaks volumes for the man,” Massaro said.
That sentiment was never more apparent than when Twitter exploded Monday night with rumors that the athletic department might be close to offering Arkansas State Head Coach Tommy Raffo the job over McGuire.
Several former Blue Raiders voiced their displeasure and heralded the man who they affectionately refer to as “Coach Mags” to be the only logical candidate for the job.
After being named head coach, McGuire said in a radio interview that this was where he wanted to end his career, and that he was thankful for the opportunity and the entire Blue Raider family’s support.
With fall baseball practice just weeks away and McGuire at the helm, MT baseball will look to build on a 31-28 (14-16) season in 2012 with a team that returns the bulk of its key contributors.