Back on the Field

Rob Francis is back on the field coaching baseball. It's where he wants to be.

"I couldn't be happier," said Francis, with the Ole Miss baseball program the past two seasons as director of operations prior to being promoted last week to volunteer coach, a title given to his position by the NCAA. "I'm honored and privileged to get the opportunity to use my best attribute, and that's to teach baseball."

The past two seasons the Bridgewater, Mass., native has been doing everything but coaching and teaching. He's dealt with many aspects of the Rebel program, from assisting with on-campus recruiting visits to playing a vital role in the development and execution of the expansion of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

He's managed the program's equipment and apparel contracts with Nike and Easton Sports, administered team travel, coordinated video for player development, served as assistant camp director for the Ole Miss Baseball Camps, and served as the coaching staff's liason for the Ernie Labarge Bullpen Club.

Now he is on the field again and coaching, and it's where he believes he can contribute even more to the success of an already-successful program.

"In the position of director of operations, I've learned how to run a college baseball program," said Francis, whose wife Anne works at the UMAA Foundation. "It's one of the reasons I came to Ole Miss. This is a successful organization year in and year out, and I wanted to be a part of that."

Francis will coach the infielders and will assist Matt Mossberg with the hitting. He will also coach first base during the games.

Prior to joining the Ole Miss staff, the 2002 graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., coached seven years. As a head high school coach for three seasons at the Class 5A level, Francis' clubs were 53-28, including two regional playoff appearances, first at Seminole High School and then at East Lake High School. While at East Lake, he guided the Eagles to a 34-20 record over two seasons. The team also earned the school's first regional playoff appearance in four years during the 2006 campaign.

Before that Francis spent two years as the volunteer assistant coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. At FGCU, he helped build the school's first-ever baseball program. He was responsible for assisting with recruiting, advance scouting, coordinating camps, handling travel, and player development.

During his time in the high school ranks and at FGCU, Francis coached 13 players drafted into the professional ranks.

From 2001-02, Francis served as an assistant coach at Seminole High School. At Seminole, the team achieved an overall record of 52-7 over two seasons, including a perfect season in 2001 (31-0). In 2001, the team won the 5A State Championship and was recognized by Baseball America and ESPN as the top-ranked prep team in America.

Two of those 13 drafted were a part of that unbeaten Seminole High team and are in the major leagues currently – first baseman Casey Kotchman of the Red Sox and catcher David Wilson of the Angels.

Mossberg will be the hitting coach, work with the outfielders, and coach third base. Carl Lafferty will move up to recruiting coordinator and continue as pitching coach, while also working with the catchers.

Francis said the staff is excited about the opportunity at hand.

"You're going to see a group of guys who are re-energized," he said. "We'll be working to move the program forward with a passion to be the best it can be."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco is pleased with the job Francis has done and knows he will do well in his new position.

"Rob (Francis) has been a great administrator and a guy that's been a huge asset for our program, especially last year during the construction of the stadium," Bianco said. "He came here to be able to coach, and now the door is open for him to do that. All of (the assistants) bring an abundance of energy and knowledge of the program."

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