Meggs Loves a Challenge

SEATTLE - Lindsay Meggs loves a challenge, and he picked the perfect place to test himself with the University of Washington. The head baseball coach at Indiana State was hired away to Montlake on Monday to resurrect a Huskies program mired in mediocrity, and Meggs brings with him a history of bringing programs to life, as well as back to life.

Ken Knutson, who compiled a very respectable winning percentage during his 17 years at Washington, just wasn't getting the job done the past five seasons, despite having players like Golden Spikes winner Tim Lincecum. In fact, he had a losing conference record those last five years, and no post-season appearances.

After going 25-30 this past spring, it was time for a change, and Washington Athletic Director pulled the plug on Knutson's future in June. What followed was a coaching search that had a lot of names rumored to be in the mix, but Meggs wasn't one of them. But in the end, Woodward wanted a baseball mind and someone who could program-build.

"And Lindsay fit that to a T," he said Monday when Meggs was introduced as the 23rd man to coach Washington baseball, following the likes of Knutson, Bob MacDonald and Tubby Graves.

"The opportunity to come to this university was one I would never have passed up," Meggs said. "I've worked for 20-odd years to be worthy of a job like this."

There's no question Meggs has earned his stripes. The 46-year old California native started his coaching career at Long Beach City College, then moving to Chico State after three years at LBCC. It was in Chico where Meggs laid the foundation for his coaching success; he posted a 538-228-4 record in 13 years. His teams made it to the Division-II national championship game four times the last 10 years of his time in Chico, winning titles in 1997 and 1999.

"We really felt like there wasn't a whole lot left to do there," Meggs said, matter-of-factly. And while many of his colleagues thought he was nuts for leaving the Wildcats, the allure of playing Division-1 baseball called him.

"My goal was to get to Omaha, and I couldn't do that in Chico," said Meggs.

So in 2007, Meggs and his family picked up and moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, home to the Indiana State Sycamores. And he clearly had his work cut out for him as the Sycamores' new head baseball coach, as ISU had lost their last 14 conference games.

All Meggs did in three years was turn around an ISU program to where they went 15-7 in 2009 and he was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year. He was the first coach at ISU to do that in 25 years.

So while reports had Washington offering the baseball position to USD's Rich Hill and Virginia Tech's Pete Hughes, they were also keeping their eye on Meggs. Senior Associate Athletic Director John Morris was the one that led the search. "He did a fabulous job," Woodward said of Morris. "He was very thorough, very organized and very diligent. And we obviously landed right where we wanted to."

Morris and Woodward started their search, ironically enough, at LSU - who had just brought home a college world series trophy. They spoke with LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman and their current baseball coach, Paul Mainieri. Bertman took a program that barely registered a blip on the SEC radar back in 1983 to leading the country in attendance and five national championships by the time he left the program in 2001.

And after what Meggs described as '72 hours of absolute mayhem', a deal was struck. "We literally didn't unpack," Meggs said, noting that he was at a camp in Hawai'i when first hearing from Washington on Saturday, and then going back to Indiana before turning right back around and flying to Seattle on Sunday. "It's been a few different time zones, not much sleep, a lot of adrenalin and a lot of excitement."

Included in the past three days was a teleconference interview, as well as Meggs discussing the pros and cons of the job with his wife Teresa, herself a daughter to a former college head football coach. "I realized there were no cons," he said.

"We found a guy who we think is a treasure," Woodward said of Meggs. "We are very lucky to have him."

The naming of Meggs as Washington's coach also runs alongside the Huskies' move toward upgrading their baseball facilities, something that has been in the works for a long time. A $5 million project is set to break ground in late September, which will include the facilities and the infrastructure for the stadium. "Phase two is to build the grandstands out, and part of that is on coach," Woodward said. "He has to win ball games and get our fan base excited. They know it."

Meggs knows he'll be starting from ground zero, but he was able to get a stadium built during his time at Chico State too. "It's a great challenge," he said, noting that he expects it to be much bigger in scope than the one he had at ISU. "It's because of the conference you're in," he added. "There are no weekends off in the Pac-10."

He has already talked to a lot of the players already, including the Huskies' signees for this coming fall. They are all expected to honor their commitments. Included in that group is JC All-America catcher Miles Kizer, as well as pitcher Adam Cimber from Puyallup and IF Jake Lamb from Bishop Blanchet.

In all, Washington signed ten prospects for their 2009 class, all of them from the state of Washington, excluding Kizer. Expect Meggs to build on the in-state philosophy, but he is also known for going outside to get help when in the process of rebuilding. He did it at Indiana State, bringing in prospects from California.

"We want to build this program with the best players we can get from the Northwest," he said. "That's the best way to go. But it's unrealistic to think you can go to the College World Series with players from one state, even if it's California."

Meggs hopes to get his coaching staff finished up by the end of the week, which will also include talking with the current assistants to get their sense of the situation and whether or not they want to be a part of UW's future. "Every phone call I'm on, I'll have five messages by the time I hang up, because there are so many quality coaches in the Northwest that would want to be a part of this," he said.

And just like Steve Sarkisian in football, Meggs is hitting the ground running; he'll be having in-home visits with local prospects Monday night. "My history is about the commitment to my players and trying to make a difference in their lives," he said. "The process takes care of the results. It is about winning, but we will take care of those things as we develop the players. We know they'll play championship baseball if we take care of business.

"If I didn't think it was obtainable, I wouldn't be here."
Here are some renderings of the new baseball facility and stadium. Top Stories