Ole Miss baseball fans have been worried about losing assistant Cliff Godwin for some time now, and it looks as though it's finally happened. North Carolina-based WNCT9 is reporting that the Rebel hitting coach has been hired as the next head coach of his alma mater, ECU. There has been no official statement from either side, though Parish Alford claims we'll hear from Godwin as early as Wednesday.
Rumors had been floating around early this week that Godwin was on his way out. On Tuesday morning, Kendall Rogers of Perfect game reported the ECU Board of Trustees was meeting and expected to hire Godwin afterwards.
According to Chase Parham of Rivals, Godwin interviewed with ECU officials last Saturday in Omaha, presumably right after Ole Miss was knocked out of the College World Series by Virginia.
As a player at ECU, Godwin helped lead the Pirates to a super regional in 2001.
It was just a matter of time before Godwin got hired away from Oxford, where's he's been one of the highest profile assistants in the country since his arrival in 2011. After the job he did shaping the Rebels' prolific offense this season, it was widely speculated that his time had come. The Rebels finished tops in the SEC with a .303 regular season average and trailed only Kentucky in runs scored.
Godwin's exit from Oxford is potentially a big blow to Rebel baseball. While Bianco has been showered in praise for finally breaking through to Omaha, that probably doesn't happen without Godwin. Not only has he steadied an offense that was in desperate need of an identity the year before his arrival, but he's been one of the country's top recruiters.
Godwin took over for the ousted Matt Mossberg after the 2011 season and immediately raised the team's batting average .014 points in his first year. In his three years as hitting coach, Ole Miss has finished second, sixth and first in team average in the SEC. It's worth noting that despite the solid averages, those first two seasons were marred by an inexplicable tendency to go cold with runners in scoring position. Godwin finally got that squared away this season, as the Rebs ranked third in the conference in RBIs.
On the heels of a College World Series run and with a host of talented bats returning for 2015, Ole Miss should have no problem attracting elite coaching prospects. But replacing Godwin will be no easy task.