Cliff's Notes

When it comes to baseball, Cliff Godwin may not have seen it all. But he's certainly seen a lot. And in a still-young career, he's definitely experienced many different coaches and varied locales.

"I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of very successful head coaches," said Godwin, now a week into his new job as an assistant coach for the Ole Miss Rebels. "I worked at UNC-W under Mark Scalf. I worked at Vanderbilt under Tim Corbin. I worked at Notre Dame and LSU under Paul Mainieri, and then at UCF under Terry Rooney. Everybody has their different philosophies, but it's been great for me to see what has worked and also what I might not have liked. It's been a great experience. I've been around great head coaches that are great people. All the experiences I've had in my short career are going to do nothing but help me in this transition."

Scalf is the winningest coach in North Carolina-Wilmington baseball history. Corbin has Vanderbilt at its highest level ever, just returning from its first trip to the College World Series. Mainieri has a national championship as head coach at LSU and was successful at Notre Dame. Rooney is resurrecting a Central Florida program that just made its first NCAA Tournament in seven seasons, playing in the recent Tallahassee Regional as the No. 2 seed.

"Every place has been unique," said Godwin, a 2000 graduate of East Carolina. "From Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee, and I wasn't a very big country music fan but it's everywhere in the culture there. Then to Notre Dame where it's cold and snowing. Then LSU, which is the biggest stage I had been on and how passionate the people are, positively and negatively, which is great."

Then it was on to Orlando and a Central Florida program that needed a lift. Rooney and Godwin and company immediately made a huge impact with a recruiting class of 21 players that first full recruiting year (2009-10) that was ranked No. 4 nationally by Collegiate Baseball.

Godwin's already been on the road recruiting his first week at Ole Miss
Bruce Newman
"When UCF went (from the Atlantic-10) to Conference USA, the baseball program just didn't make that jump," Godwin said of the level the baseball program did not attain in the new conference affiliation. "That was the biggest thing. Being in the state of Florida, being in Orlando, you've got to be able to recruit the best players in the country. Many of them are right there in your back yard.

"You've just got to get out there and shake the bushes a little bit. We were on the road a lot those first two years, but it was not a hard sell. We worked at it and got good players in. Last year (2011 season) we broke through that barrier of getting to a (NCAA) Regional. It had been more of a mental barrier than physical. I thought the year before (2010) we had enough talent to get to a Regional. But everything just didn't click. This past year the guys knew we should be there, and we knocked down that door, so to speak."

It was the first time Central Florida, which played Ole Miss in the Tallahassee Regional in 1995, had been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004.

Since signing on in Oxford, Godwin's already been on the road recruiting, some in state, some out of state. He has already been in Starkville, to Tuscaloosa and to Atlanta. He's heading to Florida today for four days to look at more potential future Rebels, then it's back to Oxford for a couple of days in the office and then to Atlanta for two weeks for "two of the biggest tournaments of the summer," Godwin said.

But he isn't alone in his efforts. With now-veteran Ole Miss assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Carl Lafferty already bringing in more talent, the duo should be strong as they fight the recruiting battles with other Southeastern Conference schools and baseball powers in the South.

"It's been very easy, because Carl's made it easy," Godwin said of the transition from Knight to Rebel as well as learning who Ole Miss already has committed, who is being recruited, and how things work within the baseball office at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. "We've looked at the recruiting calendar and said we need one guy here and one guy there. We mapped out where each of us is going. Then we looked at depth charts and said we need this position or we need this pitcher for this class. We asked each other ‘Do you know of anybody that you like that we should start getting on?'

"It's been great. Carl's been great for me as far as wanting input and wanting my opinion. Carl wants what's best for Ole Miss baseball. That's what I want. That's what Coach (Mike) Bianco wants. That's been the best situation it could possibly be."

(Friday, July 1, part II with Cliff Godwin)

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