Staying Put

The name Cliff Godwin comes up often when highly-regarded assistant coaches in college baseball are mentioned. He makes the "lists" and has been in a number of successful situations.

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He'll be back at Ole Miss for the 2014 season, which is not a surprise. But Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn did make a run at him in recent days. Godwin said no, especially after his bosses, head coach Mike Bianco and athletics director Ross Bjork, made it clear they want him to stay.

That came in the form of a raise and a two-year extension, a rarity in college baseball assistant coaches' contracts. Usually they are for one year only.

Godwin, the Rebels' hitting coach, is appreciative and happy at Ole Miss, he said, despite the fact that even as a young assistant he's been on the move quite a bit.

"No. 1 is I love Ole Miss baseball. I love Oxford. I love our coaching staff. I love our players," he said. "I'm real excited about the guys we've got coming in this year. When I left (Central Florida) to come to Ole Miss, it was to help Ole Miss baseball get to Omaha. That's been my goal from day one. Had I chosen to leave, I would have left here with unfinished business."

A major staff position with the Razorbacks came open when assistant Todd Butler, who had replaced Bianco as head coach at McNeese State when Bianco came to Ole Miss, left Fayetteville to become head coach at Wichita State, replacing legendary Gene Stephenson.

That's when Van Horn called. But Bianco and Bjork made it clear to Godwin Ole Miss is the place he's needed most.

"Ross and Mike have made a huge commitment to me, and I'm excited to be a part of Ole Miss baseball and the future plans," he said.

Godwin arrived at Ole Miss in the summer of 2011 from UCF, after having served as an assistant at LSU and Notre Dame, as director of operations at Vanderbilt, and as volunteer coach at UNC-Wilmington.

He believes he's here to stay for a while – unless, of course, that head coaching job somewhere becomes an opportunity he cannot pass up.

"When I left (LSU) for UCF it was because I wanted to be able to run the offense and prepare myself to become a head coach and also to be able to recruit in the state of Florida," Godwin said. "Coming to Ole Miss, I liked Mike (Bianco), I liked Carl (Lafferty), Stephen (Head), and Fuller (Smith). I met those guys and wanted to be a part of that. And obviously the Oxford community and the fans and playing in front of 10,000 people, all that was huge. I never wanted to leave, but people call you because they respect you in the profession and they want to talk to you. I'm just glad I could stay here."

Cliff Godwin
File Photo

As for the two-year contract, Godwin said he's certainly pleased with it. And he will actually have an increased role in some areas, from recruiting to evaluations and scholarship situations, namely how they are divided and allocated.

Bianco said he's looking forward to having Godwin more involved in those areas and believes it will be beneficial for the program.

"Cliff's been very involved as far as being on the road and evaluation and those types of things," Bianco said. "But because of the dynamic of the way we've always done it, he's not in a lot of those conversations. I've always met with the recruiting coordinator. He's still been evaluating and involved. But we have the utmost confidence in him. Why not let him be part of the decision-making on how we decide to spend the 11.7 (scholarhips)? We want to make him a bigger part of that."

Godwin said Ole Miss is where he needs to be.

"I love this place and I don't ever want to leave here until one day I get a head coaching opportunity that's a good one," he said. "And it will have to be a good one."

Godwin, who has helped lead Ole Miss to two NCAA Tournaments in his two years here, is excited about the team returning and the players that are arriving for the 2013-14 school year.

"This is going to be a very talented group and a very dynamic group, and by that I mean there are some big, physical guys," Godwin said. "There are some guys who can really run. And we've got infield depth, more than we had the last couple of years. There's going to be some healthy competition this year, and we're adding some talent on the mound. (Lafferty) has done a good job getting us some good arms in here."

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