Players Surprised, But Todd Says It's Time

Thirty-seven years in college baseball, including 23 at Ohio State, are enough for Buckeye baseball coach Bob Todd. The legendary Hall of Famer told the media Thursday afternoon that his energy level is at the point that it's time for him to call it quits. His career at OSU is one of accomplishment, and with a stretch run nearing, more could be added.

When members of the Ohio State baseball team were called together after the squad's Wednesday afternoon loss to No. 10 Louisville, the players weren't sure what to expect.

Given that the Buckeyes had lost their eighth game in 11 tries, it could have been ugly.

"There was always a possibility of getting a little bit reamed," senior Ryan Dew said. "We were all puzzled and we were all guessing what it was going to be – and we were all wrong."

The meeting instead was an announcement – 23rd-year head coach Bob Todd was telling his players that the 2010 campaign would be his last in the Buckeye dugout. At the age of 61 after a lifetime spent in baseball, the Hall of Famer had decided it was time to retire.

Team members described being shocked and that Todd had a tough time telling them about the news. That much was clear Thursday afternoon as Todd's voice broke when recalling the scene from the team's meeting room one day earlier.

"I can tell you I've practiced that many times," he said. "I've been blessed with good players over the entire time I've been here, and this group is no different. To walk away from something that you've done all your life is difficult, I won't deny that."

Todd said that at a press conference in Bill Davis Stadium – the state-of-the-art venue his success helped build – attended by various local media members and his wife of 39 years, Glenda.

As it turned out, that was fitting, as it had become clear to Todd over the preceding months that the pull to spend more time with Glenda and their family – including four children and seven grandkids – was now more important than the grind of college baseball after 37 years.

"I went to Florida in January with my wife and we talked about it then, but I can tell you there was a specific time after we had taken two or three road trips," he said of the decision to retire. "This was over spring break and we were in Winter Haven (in Florida during mid-March). I was sitting in the hotel and I was just looking out the window and said, ‘You know, I've lost the energy that I really would like to have for this team, and I never want to be an anchor to these players.'

"Those players are too special to me."

The feeling has been mutual, as Todd has helped 72 of his players sign Major League Baseball contracts, 19 earn All-America honors and eight Academic All-America distinctions.

"Coach Todd is a well-known coach around the country," said junior catcher Dan Burkhart, a preseason All-American before the 2010 campaign. "When I came up here for the visits he was just unbelievable to me and showed me around campus. I would never want to go anywhere other than here, especially with him being the coach."

Todd graduated from Missouri in 1971 before earning a master's degree in education with a specialization in psychology from Missouri-St. Louis two years later. He served as an assistant coach at a high school while earning his graduate degree and then spent 10 seasons as an assistant at his alma mater before the top job at Kent State came calling in 1984. After four years piloting the Golden Flashes, the Ohio State job opened.

The hire proved to be a fortuitous one, as Todd's accomplishments at Ohio State are almost too numerous to list, starting with inductions into both the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. Just the 10th coach ever at OSU, he reached the 1,000-win plateau in February, and his 897 victories at Ohio State – offset by only 471 losses and two ties – make him the winningest coach in school history.

The only five-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Todd has never had a losing season but topped the 40-win mark 11 times, including a school-record 52 in 1991 and 50 in 1999. The Buckeyes have won seven league regular-season titles – including one a season ago – and eight tournament crowns, and every player who has suited up for four years in the coach's tenure has earned a conference championship of some sort.

Also, the Buckeyes under Todd became one of the first programs in the North to show that baseball teams from the region could be competitive, having played in 13 NCAA regionals and hosted two Super Regionals.

"I think we have accomplished a lot," he said. "When I came here I wanted to establish a program. I just didn't want to have a couple of winning seasons. I was committed to trying to put Ohio State baseball on the map, and I think we've got it as one of the top 20 programs in the country."

The only thing missing from the résumé is a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Buckeyes last went in 1966, the year Steve Arlin – recently named to the CWS all-time team – pitched OSU to the national title.

"As I reflect back, the one thing that's still missing is the opportunity to have players play in Omaha," he said. "I've been to Omaha many times. It's a great venue, it's a great atmosphere and I think there would be nothing greater than for a team to be able to get there."

His current squad will take one last go at that elusive goal. After entering the season ranked in the national polls, the Buckeyes boast only a 24-17 record and are seemingly out of the running for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

However, OSU is only one game out of first place in the Big Ten at 8-7 and hosts the league's postseason tournament at the end of May. Winning that event would provide the squad with the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

"The goal is still there and it's still a realistic goal," he said. "We have a lot of baseball still to play and I think we have control of our own destiny, and I am thankful that they are taking that attitude."

Todd said the decision was made to announce the move now in order to prevent the news as coming as a shock to his players at the end of the campaign.

Now, the Buckeyes would seem to have a little more incentive for their stretch run.

"We want to send him out a winner," Dew said. "As a senior, I want to go out a winner as well. We talked about finishing up the season strong and trying to get everything together. We have a very talented team. It's just about putting pitching and hitting and everything together to finish out this season strong."

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