"Tough Decision, But The Right One," Coach Says

Mark Fuller talks about not returning as Auburn's pitching coach next season.

Auburn, Ala.--With his team struggling on the mound for another season, Coach Steve Renfroe decided to make a change and Tuesday it was announced that pitching Coach Mark Fuller would not return to the Auburn Tigers next season.

Offered a chance to remain on the staff in another capacity while a volunteer pitching coach was brought in, Fuller says that he decided that he would rather spend time with his family and look for another coaching job down the road.

"I don't know that we've been as consistent as we need to be as a pitching staff," Fuller says. "I think Coach has made a very tough decision, but the right one.

"Around here you have to be consistent," Fuller adds. "This is a place where you have to pitch well and you have to develop guys that go out and get it done. I think one thing I failed to do is develop a guy that could go out on Friday nights in this league and keep you in the game and get you going for the weekend. That was probably the biggest glaring weakness is that we didn't develop that one guy."

Mark Fuller

There is no doubt that has been a glaring weakness for the Tigers since Fuller's arrival on the Plains. Even in last season's run to a number four national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the pitching staff was makeshift with many of the wins coming out of the bullpen from Levale Speigner, Cory Dueitt and Steven Register.

This season the Tigers have a team ERA of 4.69 and have only one complete game in 52 starts. Fuller says that he doesn't have an answer for why things didn't work, but he hopes they will improve for his alma mater with the hiring of a new coach.

"We've had the talent and had the kids that have worked hard," Fuller says. "Maybe in making the change we'll find out. Whoever Coach decides to bring in we'll find out what it was. Right now I don't know."

A player at Auburn from 1989-92, Fuller was a four-year letterwinner as a starting pitcher for the Tigers. After playing minor league baseball in the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies organizations, Fuller got into coaching with a stint at North Carolina State. While there Fuller had five pitchers drafted and the Wolfpack compiled a record of 108-76.

Fuller's best coaching year at Auburn was in 2001 when the Tigers had a team ERA of 4.05. The mark was the best by a Tiger team since the 1995 season. Hayden Gliemmo, Eric Brandon and Levale Speigner all finished in the top 10 nationally in earned run average that season, but things haven't gone well since that time. Fuller says that despite the way things ended he wouldn't trade his second time at Auburn for anything.

"This has been the best four years that I could have imagined," Fuller says. "It may have been better than my playing years. I have learned so much from Chris Finwood and Steve Renfroe. I don't know how much baseball I knew before I got here. Being with those two guys, being here and being in this league has been a blessing. I don't know where I go from here, but I think it will be in baseball and my four years here will be priceless to whatever future I have down the road."

While a position was available to Fuller to scout for Auburn and recruit, that would have meant even more time away from wife Lori and sons Brooks (3) and Brady (1). Fuller says that wasn't an option at this time, but coaching still remains something he wants to do. "I want to make sure whatever we do is right for my family," Fuller says. "They'll be the number one consideration in whatever I decide to do next."

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