Long before the end of Alabama’s unsatisfactory 2017 baseball season, there was dissatisfaction with first year head coach Greg Goff. Nevertheless, through most of the season, the general expectation was that Goff would have more than one year to rebuild the program.
But as that first season deteriorated (19-34-1 overall, 5-24-1 and last in the Southeastern Conference), the discontent grew. Along with it grew stories of coach-player conflict, that Goff had “lost the team,” and that post-season discussions between Goff and the players had gone badly – that the exit interviews would result in diminished future opportunities for the players.
By the time first-year athletics director Greg Byrne addressed the situation publicly Wednesday afternoon, there was no secret: Goff was out.
Byrne discussed the dismissal, noted that no NCAA rules had been violated (as has been speculated), and touched on the future. The University will fulfill its contract obligations for the remainder of Goff’s initial four-year contract, though it could be mitigated if Goff obtains another coaching job in baseball.
Byrne pointed out that Goff had been successful in the past and speculated that he could have a successful future as a baseball coach.
Byrne said he informed Goff of the decision Wednesday morning and then met with those players who were available to explain the situation to them before his public announcement. The decision, he said, was “based off the long-term health of the program.
“As we move forward and look ahead, we’re looking for the best possible baseball coach that we can get with college experience. That could be a head coach, that could be an assistant coach, but we want somebody that’s been in college baseball and understands the dynamics of that. There have been several assistant coaches that I just want to give you examples of who have gone on to be head coaches at high-level program for their first job. Andy (Cannizaro) over at Mississippi State, Kevin O’Sullivan, who went from Clemson to Florida to be the head coach his first time, Brian O’Connor from Notre Dame to Virginia, Dan O’Connell from Ole Miss to Louisville. Don’t read too much into that, I’m just trying to give you some examples.
“We’re absolutely looking at head coaches, but we’ll also consider assistant coaches. We want to find the best possible college baseball coach that we can for The University of Alabama.”
Byrne pointed out the advantages at Alabama, including the Sewell-Thomas Stadium, that the athletics department funds baseball “at a very high level,” and the Alabama brand.
He indicated that the replacement process might not be a quick one and that the position would be filled on an interim basis by Terry Rooney from the Alabama staff. He noted that a change can be detrimental to the incoming recruiting class and that Rooney was being retained until a new coach can be named in an effort to limit damage to the recruiting.
Byrne said, “As far as what we’re looking for, we’re looking for a really good college baseball coach that can coach the game of baseball, that can recruit, that has a very solid recruiting plan, that understands academics, that understands compliance, that understands community engagement, involvement. Alumni involvement, that’s really important, I wanted to say that to our alums out there, we want you engaged and involved in the program. So, the head coach that has a plan across the board for all those things, that’s what we’re looking for.”