Here comes a cliched pun: this sure is a homerun hire!
It's no secret to Rebel baseball fans that, while pitching has been consistently good for our squads over the past few seasons, our bats have truly regressed from what we saw during the 2005 season - statistically the best offensive season seen during Mike Bianco's tenure at Ole Miss. And with 2011 ending about as poorly as it could have behind an inefficient, inconsistent offense which led the Rebels to a 10th place finish in the SEC, changes were bound to happen.
As a result of this year's shortcomings, Matt Mossberg, a guy who has been a bit of a scapegoat for the baseball program's decline (mostly with good reason because, c'mon, he's more of a 'crooter than a coach) was asked to resign a few weeks ago, leaving a vacancy on Mike Bianco's staff. Taking that hitting coach role will be UCF's Cliff Godwin, who is listed by the Knights as an "Associate Head Coach." This is, to be honest, about as good a hire as I would have expected from Mike Bianco.
Godwin's got a pretty remarkable career as an assistant, coaching both at Notre Dame and LSU before his UCF gig. He has been a hitting coach and catchers coach for his entire career, and really established himself as an adept recruiter at UCF. He'll be asked to take on all of these roles at Ole Miss, which will almost invariably lead to better results in a few seasons.
This hire is exciting to me for two reasons. First, it shows that Mike Bianco's feeling pressure to win enough to fire Mossberg and hire a guy like Godwin. Matt Mossberg, if you've forgotten, played for Bianco at Ole Miss and hired more-or-less out of cronyist loyalty. He was a yes man who only showed his value to the program during recruiting season. Godwin is not that. His ties to Bianco are minimal and, with his experience as an associate head coach, he will likely be given much more control over certain aspects of recruiting and practice. The second reason this hire excites me is that it confirms my suspicion that Ole Miss really is a place where talented coaches want to work. It's good to know that we've actually built something valuable here and are able to attract a guy who was likely to become a head coach somewhere soon to take on a demanding assistant role.