Dave Serrano, the new head coach of Cal State Fullerton baseball, is bringing his assistant coaches from UC Irvine, leaving long-time Assistant Coach Rick Vanderhook without a position.
Serrano said he decided to go another direction with his coaching staff on Monday when he was introduced to the CSUF community at a press conference at Goodwin Field.
"I think it's time for us to move on. People are aware of what transpired," Serrano said. "Rick and I have been in touch, and our friendship will continue on."
George Horton announced his sudden departure from the University of Oregon on Aug. 31 and brought CSUF Assistant Coach Jason Gill along with him. Horton's suggestion for his replacement was Vanderhook, who has coached for the Titans since 1985 and was recently promoted to Assistant Head Coach before the 2007 College World Series.
CSUF Athletic Director Brian Quinn faced the task of finding George Horton's replacement. Quinn considered Vanderhook for the head coaching position, but ultimately decided on Serrano to follow in Horton's footsteps.
"He's a legend. Nobody can replace George Horton," Quinn said. "But we did the very best that we could do, and I think the best in this country, to bring in someone to keep up this tradition."
Serrano's assistants will be Sergio Brown and Craig Bergeron, who helped lead UCI to their first College World Series berth last season.
Serrano's familiarity and respect for the Titan program ultimately led to his exit from UCI. He served as both a pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Titans between 1997 and 2004, when he left to take over the Irvine program.
"I'm thrilled to be home, and this truly is my home," Serrano said. "My kids [and] my wife have all had a big part of wearing the Titan colors, and we're proud to be back."
Serrano's familiarity with Titan baseball should ease the sudden coaching transition.
Horton's departure may have been unexpected, but CSUF President Milton Gordon feels Serrano will handle it just fine.
"[Horton leaving] was a surprise, but when you have a premier coach like Horton you know there are a lot of teams that are always going to be after him," Gordon said. "I think [Serrano's] going to move the program and continue the success of the past."
Even though Titan baseball is losing its coaches from last season, the program has no choice but to move forward.
Serrano has the confidence of Gordon, Quinn, his players and even former Head Coach Horton, who attended the press conference.
"I hope they'll reflect back at my tenure here and say I did make a positive impact," Horton said. "I have a great love and admiration for Dave. He had a lot to do with my success as a head coach, and the way I look at it is just basically passing the baton to a very capable young man."
"I know the tradition we're taking over, and I welcome the challenge," Serrano said. "We're going to work together as a group to continue on the excellence [of the Titan program]."