Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brian's Song

Just like the torrential rain that pounded the Old Dominion, the rumors of Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor flew in and out in less than 48 hours.

The skipper spent 9 years at Notre Dame before taking the helm at Virginia. When Notre Dame’s head coach moved onto LSU many speculated that O’Connor would be his replacement. Notre Dame did make the move but in something very rare in today’s sports world, O’Connor stayed loyal to Virginia.

That’s right, O’Connor said no, just like he said no to SEC school Auburn last year. In fact, as far as coaches go, Brian O’Connor seems to be the hot-commodity. Yet Virginia keeps their hands on him.

Well coach, this one is for you. I don’t care how much you know about baseball if you like Virginia you need to take a deep sigh of relief with me.

In three years, O’Connor has gotten this team to the postseason every single year (what other UVA coach can say that not associated with lacrosse). Virginia’s even hosted two regionals in these three years. Virginia won a school-record 45 games this year, has the ACC Offensive player of the year with Sean Doolittle and his first project Ryan Zimmerman is impressing all in Washington with the Nationals.

The nation took note. Virginia peaked as high as number six in the national rankings, they finished just a game behind UNC for the Coastal Division title. The ACC and the SEC are the best baseball conferences by far. 75% of the conference went to the postseason and Virginia held its own with every single one. In fact, Virginia won the series against the Tar Heels, a team that finished a run shy from the national championship.

Okay, so I know what you’re going to say. Virginia despite all the talent, all the wins, and all the newfound respect aren’t getting it done in the playoffs. This year it was Evansville that gave them the old heave-ho. Sure, Virginia needs to do better with everything on the line, but no man can do it better than this guy. O’Connor has brought the talent in, he’s made the right decisions, but he can’t pitch or hit. With O’Connor Virginia will make Omaha eventually, without O’Connor Virginia won’t make it out of the ACC cellar.

So thank you Brian, your school admires your respect and loyalty. I sure wish Dave Leitao would do the same if UConn called upon him, but I sincerely doubt it. Coaches are just used to going where the money is, and money is no better than at Notre Dame. Still, he made a commitment to Virginia and now it’s time for Virginia to make a commitment to him.

It’s time for people to support this team and this man. Davenport Field is just begging for occupants. I’ve never been to a baseball game there but now I will. Not because of the record or the talent or its nice location.

I’m doing it for Coach O’Connor. What else is loyalty for?


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