Dave Serrano's pitch is accepted by Tennessee

Fullerton coach picked to revitalize baseball

Dave Serrano, left, argues a call with first base umpire Scott Cline during an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament in June 2010. The Cal State Fullerton head coach has been chosen as Tennessee's new baseball coach.

Photo by Jason Redmond

Dave Serrano, left, argues a call with first base umpire Scott Cline during an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament in June 2010. The Cal State Fullerton head coach has been chosen as Tennessee's new baseball coach.

Only three coaches in college baseball history have taken three different teams to the College World Series.

Cal State Fullerton's Dave Serrano put himself in a position Wednesday where he hopes to eventually become the fourth.

He'll be trying to do it with a program that was there as recently as 2005, but has since drifted into relative obscurity in the sport's most competitive conference.

Tennessee hired the 46-year-old Serrano, who has seen nothing but success in the past seven years, as its new baseball coach Wednesday. A news conference is set for today at 2 p.m. to present Serrano as the replacement for Todd Raleigh, who was fired last month after four disappointing seasons.

"After an overwhelming 24 hours of events, I have made the decision to leave a great program at Cal State Fullerton to take on the challenge of returning the University of Tennessee to a spot among the nation's elite," Serrano said in a university statement. "While this decision was not an easy one, it makes it a little easier to say yes when you have an entire family completely in support for you.

"We hope to be proud and active members of the Knoxville community and will work hard to give Volunteer fans a baseball team that they can cheer on for years to come."

Specifics regarding Serrano's contract and salary at UT were not made available.

According to the Orange County Register, Serrano's base salary at Fullerton was in the neighborhood of $140,000, but he was likely receiving close to $300,000 because of compensation from baseball camps, equipment contracts and playoff bonuses.

On Tuesday, UT interviewed South Carolina top assistant Chad Holbrook for the position. Through a statement released by South Carolina early Wednesday morning, Holbrook pulled his name out of the running.

"Tennessee is a great institution with a great athletic program," Holbrook said, "but at this point in my career I belong here at South Carolina."

Former UT player Chris Burke and Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt were also among the several candidates considered for the position, a source close to the interview process told the News Sentinel. Serrano, though, was a top target from the start, and UT was able to wrap up its search, which was briefly interrupted by athletic director Mike Hamilton's resignation last Tuesday, when he accepted the offer.

A Torrance, Calif., native, Serrano pitched a combined three seasons at Cerritos College and Fullerton. He returned to Cerritos in 1988 for his first coaching gig and remained there for seven years before taking his first job offer with the Vols.

Serrano, who was in Knoxville for his final interview Wednesday, served as an assistant on Rod Delmonico's staff at UT from 1995-96, a time when the baseball program was thriving. UT went 97-36, won back-to-back SEC titles and advanced to a College World Series in Serrano's two years with the program.

His career blossomed thereafter, as he moved out west and served as a top assistant at Fullerton, one of college baseball's premier programs, from 1997-2004. He first became a head coach in 2005 at UC Irvine, where Serrano, over three seasons, led the Anteaters to postseason appearances in 2006 and 2007 and their first College World Series in 2007.

Serrano's success continued at Fullerton, where he's been since the 2008 season. The Titans won no fewer than 40 games in each of Serrano's four seasons, all of which included a trip to the NCAA tournament. Fullerton's last trip to the CWS came in 2009.

In his seven years as a head coach, Serrano is 289-139-1 and has made the postseason in his last six seasons. In the last seven years, UT is 84-122 in SEC play and boasts just one postseason appearance - its improbable run to the CWS in 2005.

All told, in his 17 years of coaching at the Division I level, Serrano, has been to the CWS seven times.

"Dave is a proven winner and is a perfect fit as the head baseball coach at the University of Tennessee," interim vice chancellor for athletics Joan Cronan said in a university statement. "He has taken two programs to the College World Series as a head coach, and we are confident that he is the right coach to lead our program to national prominence."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

Dave Serrano File

Age: 46.

Born: June 28, 1964 (Torrance, Calif.).

Family: Wife Tracy, sons Kyle (15), Zachary (13), Parker (7).

Coaching timeline

Cal State Fullerton: 2008-11.

UC Irvine: 2005-07.

Cal State Fullerton (assistant): 1997-2004

Tennessee (assistant): 1995-96.

Cerritos College: 1991.

Cerritos College (assistant): 1988-90, 1992-94.

Coaching record

Year School Record

2005 UC Irvine 31-25

2006 UC Irvine 6-24

2007 UC Irvine 47-17-1

2008 Cal State Fullerton 41-22

2009 Cal State Fullerton 47-16

2010 Cal State Fullerton 46-18

2011 Cal State Fullerton 41-17

Totals 289-139-1

Advanced to College World Series in 2007 and 2009

Advanced to NCAA tournament from 2006-11

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Comments » 52

VolsToTheWall writes:

Great hire.The closet-full of fat phil jokes we can pull out, repackage, and use is an added bonus. Hopefully we can make donut jokes for years to come!!

thevoice writes:

By golly, I believe we got the right guy this time. Welcome aboard Dave; good to have you back where you belong.

thevoice writes:

And buy the way, Mr. Holbrock pulled his name from contention only after he discovered the job wouldn't be offered to him. Nice try though, Chad.

IN_Volfan writes:

Nice to see we get our first choice, strong work J.Cronan! Now reel us in a full time AD! what about Condridge?

bUTchVFL writes:

Solid character with huge success as a head coach at two schools. Home run hire. Welcome to UT coach. VFL!

Atuss writes:

The allure of coaching in the SEC attracts the best of the best. Makes you wonder how in the world Hamilton settled on Raleigh four years ago when there was at least three head coaches even in the Southern Conference(where he came from) who would have been far better choices than him.

arkyvol writes:

why the hell wasn't this kind of coach hired four years ago? better late than never.

OrangeCounsel writes:

I guess it's a little early to make the call, but I think we can pretty safely say ADJC is 1 for 1 in her hires for men's sports coaches.

LJS1984 writes:

There is no question this is a good hire. Irvine and Fullerton are both powers in college baseball. This is the equivalent to going out and getting a Chris Peterson in college football or another top tier coach that is year in and year out playing for a national title. His record speaks for itself. Wondering why Hamilton couldn't figure this out before the Raleigh hire? I'm so excited now that Hamilton has excited the stage.

LJS1984 writes:

in response to Atuss:

The allure of coaching in the SEC attracts the best of the best. Makes you wonder how in the world Hamilton settled on Raleigh four years ago when there was at least three head coaches even in the Southern Conference(where he came from) who would have been far better choices than him.

Big time SEC money doesn't hurt either. He will almost be doubling his salary. Just goes to show you why Hamilton should have been gone a couple of years ago.

us43137415#376444 writes:

Great hire.. and for once, GREAT comments on the baseball forum.

Would somebody wake up Futurecoach 16, and tell him we've got a good hire.

flatrock writes:

Good hire on paper. Worrisome: born in California, played in California, coached in California...can he recruit in Tennessee, Georgia, etc. ? Suggestion: hire Chris Burke to be his No. 1 assistant.

HendersonvilleVOL writes:

Great hire! Can Joan just permanently take over the position? I like the way this feels... and I think the reason we didn't hire him 4 years ago came down to the accredidation of his degree. I guess Joan believes that what he has is good enough, and I agree!

WesternCommand writes:

in response to thevoice:

And buy the way, Mr. Holbrock pulled his name from contention only after he discovered the job wouldn't be offered to him. Nice try though, Chad.

Well said Voice! Welcome Coach!!

Kelly8 writes:

GO VOLS.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am moved and appreciate your intellegence.

mattlock writes:

Its a valid point that recruiting is going to be different for him here. In CA, he didn't have to go very far to see kids and them to drive to Fullerton and play baseball. That CA pipeline won't produce at much here because those same prospects aren't likely to move cross country and pay out of state tuition to play at UT. He has to hire some coaches with ties in the South and build the team around TN talent. It can be done, now hire the right asst. coaches.

punkin writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm tellin momma, you're on the computer at 3 in the morning.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to brown-bag-vol-fan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know, this says it best. You are NOT a fan if you only support the programs when they are thriving. I suffered through Fulmer's last few years, Kiffin's one year, last year's babsketball fiasco, etc. I also watched UT baseball, painful as that was. I am no fair weather fan. If you choose when to support the program, you are not a fan

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to mattlock:

Its a valid point that recruiting is going to be different for him here. In CA, he didn't have to go very far to see kids and them to drive to Fullerton and play baseball. That CA pipeline won't produce at much here because those same prospects aren't likely to move cross country and pay out of state tuition to play at UT. He has to hire some coaches with ties in the South and build the team around TN talent. It can be done, now hire the right asst. coaches.

I heard this on Rivals Radio w/ Chris Childers. Unlike football, Tennessee is a gold mine for young baseball talent. In football, we've got to go out of state, but in baseball we don't. They said that Raleigh burned some bridges with some schools out there with strong baseball tradition like Farragut. He'll have to compete with Vandy for in state talent, but our facilities and total college experience are second to none. He'll get it done. This is a home run hire.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to mattlock:

Its a valid point that recruiting is going to be different for him here. In CA, he didn't have to go very far to see kids and them to drive to Fullerton and play baseball. That CA pipeline won't produce at much here because those same prospects aren't likely to move cross country and pay out of state tuition to play at UT. He has to hire some coaches with ties in the South and build the team around TN talent. It can be done, now hire the right asst. coaches.

Check the softball roster for players home state

Volin68 writes:

Welcome back Coach!

voloffaith writes:

in response to LJS1984:

There is no question this is a good hire. Irvine and Fullerton are both powers in college baseball. This is the equivalent to going out and getting a Chris Peterson in college football or another top tier coach that is year in and year out playing for a national title. His record speaks for itself. Wondering why Hamilton couldn't figure this out before the Raleigh hire? I'm so excited now that Hamilton has excited the stage.

Yes, for many when Mr. Hamilton exited the stage they got "excited."
Time will tell in recruiting for seasons 2012- 2013 how he has made inroads in Tennessee and other baseball hotbeds.

utvolfan writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Check the softball roster for players home state

Interesting . . . 25% are from California--same number as from Tennessee.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Like in "Night at the Museum" when the king says,"you are so cute how can we take you seriously." Well skippy uf(since you can't be classy enough to put UT)....naw I'm not going to slither down to your appaent level so UF is in a terrible state for baseball recruiting. I maen like Serrano didn't have to fyt hard in California neither does Florida. But againg considering the time you are on at early a.m. reflects on the credibility of your post to a point. Well I've got work to do while your sleeping this morning. Happy trails lil chomper....Mama calls you that also

Rookie2 writes:

Good hire. Don't stop there. Let's get some good assistants in here and get this thing rolling again. Go Vols!

FWBVol writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Check the softball roster for players home state

Softball and baseball are two completely different sports as far as high school talent pools are concerned and where the talent is located. A lot of the top high school players are still out west because Southeast states were later in starting to play fast pitch softball.

On the other hand, baseball has been played in Tennessee forever and Tennessee teams have consistently been ranked with some of the best in the nation.

As others have pointed out, Serrano will have a nice selection of in-state talent to recruit, but he will have to reestablish some of the pipelines back to UT.

The good news is, I believe, that a lot of kids will want to play for a good UT program as opposed to other schools in the state.

It seems obvious that Serrano was the first choice all along, first by Hamilton before he stepped down, and then my Joan Cronan.

Yes, the SEC East is a beast and is undoubtbly the best division in college baseball, but UT has been competitive in the division in the past and, under Serrano, will be again.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You need to go on a Diet. You seem to be full of it with your comments.

voloffaith writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Like in "Night at the Museum" when the king says,"you are so cute how can we take you seriously." Well skippy uf(since you can't be classy enough to put UT)....naw I'm not going to slither down to your appaent level so UF is in a terrible state for baseball recruiting. I maen like Serrano didn't have to fyt hard in California neither does Florida. But againg considering the time you are on at early a.m. reflects on the credibility of your post to a point. Well I've got work to do while your sleeping this morning. Happy trails lil chomper....Mama calls you that also

appaent=apparent maen=mean againg=again oh my another fat finger keyboard morn...ahhhhh

voloffaith writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There ewe are our wonder child predicter of all.......how are things in Nashville? OOPS you are in Omaha right? Will Vandy bring home the bacon or be the cooked pig? They have an excellent shot at all pork if they can stick a fork in it and keep it there. Of course ,don't let others stick it to you first. Now that we've got the rinds out of the way back to topic. We got a good coach now we've got to reestablish our pipeline in state and hold serve there. Welcome back Coach Serrano as we hope that you and your assistants can get us back to relevancy in baseball again.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You realize Vandy is going to its FIRST CWS. Right? Its FIRST. That's not domination, pal.

And, Einstein, who are "most coaches in most sports" who don't want anything to do with UT athletics? Most? Really?

Look boys. Choose your words carefully. Some of us read your comments.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

I am moved and appreciate your intellegence.

What's your point debbie downer?

Is Dave Serrano better than Todd Raleigh? Yes!

Can he coach winning baseball? Yes!

Did he have "SEC" Talent out west? No!

Will it take time to build the baseball team? Yes!

Is being 3rd/4th in the SEC east better than being last overall in the SEC? YES!

So excuse us fans for being a little giddy!

UTKin1992 writes:

Nice!

Now just write an intelligent contract...

zman44 writes:

Bottom line: This is a good hire, and Serrano is a great coach. That being said, Vandy dominates the recruiting landscape in Tennessee and has for the past 5 years or so, since the David Price era. In short, Tim Corbin gets who he wants in Tennessee. Serrano will have to work to make inroads in the state.

If I were him, I would focus my efforts in North Georgia which is a hotbed of talent. If he can pull a few East Tennessee guys, then that would be good.

In short, you have to regionalize recruiting. Corbin has locked down Tennessee, but he also goes into New England and the Mid-Atlantic region and gets the best talent. For example, Vandy's top 2 recruits for next year are from Massachusetts and New Jersey respectively. You have to know where to find players.

As a Vandy fan, I hope UT gets better because it is more fun when its competitive. No offense, but this year's series was pretty pathetic, and bad for SEC baseball in general. Best of luck to Coach Serrano, as he's got a long way to climb considering he had the 5th best team in Tennessee behind Vandy, Belmont, ETSU, and Austin Peay.

DavidB writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Softball and baseball are two completely different sports as far as high school talent pools are concerned and where the talent is located. A lot of the top high school players are still out west because Southeast states were later in starting to play fast pitch softball.

On the other hand, baseball has been played in Tennessee forever and Tennessee teams have consistently been ranked with some of the best in the nation.

As others have pointed out, Serrano will have a nice selection of in-state talent to recruit, but he will have to reestablish some of the pipelines back to UT.

The good news is, I believe, that a lot of kids will want to play for a good UT program as opposed to other schools in the state.

It seems obvious that Serrano was the first choice all along, first by Hamilton before he stepped down, and then my Joan Cronan.

Yes, the SEC East is a beast and is undoubtbly the best division in college baseball, but UT has been competitive in the division in the past and, under Serrano, will be again.

We dont recruit softball players out west because they started playing softball before we did. We recruit out there because they play year round. With TSSAA sanctions teams in baseball and softball are limited to what they can do. Out west they can run school teams like a travel team and play all year long. Not to mention the weather there allows them to play year round.

Tennessee has great talent in softball and baseball. It appears more and more players from Tennessee have decided not to play high school ball and are playing on travel teams so they can get more games in and compete with the players from out west.

BAFLETCHER writes:

I just hope he doesn't pull a Pat Murphy, get cold feet, and resign before he gets started. This does seem to be a really good hire

volsnationalchamps writes:

If he gets players from TN as a core and branch out here and there will be fine. Baseball is entirely different than football and basketball. We have plenty talent from here that can play big time baseball. Look at what Vandy is doing. I give them lot of credit for the way they have done. This is great hire and he will get job done. Good job Joan.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to VolsToTheWall:

Great hire.The closet-full of fat phil jokes we can pull out, repackage, and use is an added bonus. Hopefully we can make donut jokes for years to come!!

Fat jokes at anyone's expense are tasteless and classless and most importantly are not funny.

Please keep them to yourself.

PS. just in case you are wondering - I am not overweight. There just is no room for that kind of ignorance here.

traderjoe writes:

Hammy leaves and things improve immediately. What a relief!

Volunatic writes:

in response to us43137415#376444:

Great hire.. and for once, GREAT comments on the baseball forum.

Would somebody wake up Futurecoach 16, and tell him we've got a good hire.

No, FC16 still hasn't compiled his list of excuses for the past season, although I've heard he's planning on blaming it all on the best players.

phippo1956#453504 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Check the softball roster for players home state

you need to look no further than about 125 miles east to area around johnson city, a bunch of good prospects their. the school where the ol ball coach won back to back state titles in baseball in his day they got a pitcher named norris who could probably pitch in the majors now. and ut let a guy named hoilman get away to etsu where he just finished up a career tearing the cover off the ball. came from science hill, you knoxville people with long enough memories,know what some teams from up this way have done to the knox teams on their way to spring fling.

givehim6 writes:

Welcome to UT Dave hope you can put the diamond VOLS back on the map again. Let,s give him a few yeays, like CDD he has to restock.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Incredible hire. This is what UT is about. Best hire since Pearl (and before that back to Johnny Majors). Proven winner. Has taken multiple teams to the next level, step up from midmajor to major (breeds loyalty), has a history with UT and SEC.
All of you trolls prove your utter lack of intelligence and sad troll life by criticizing this hire. If we had stole Corbin from Peabody you'd say he never got to a CWS, if we had stole Tanner from the Yardbirds you'd say he got lucky last year. Please allow the adults to comment and have a knowledgeable discussion about college sports without inserting your lame flame opinions. #getbackunderthebridge #lordiamhappyhamiltonisgone

tenndiver89 writes:

I'm not too worried about Coach Serrano's recruiting ability.. while still with CSF, he reached into Nebraska and plucked out 6-1 pitcher Tyler Peitzmeier from little ol Yutan, NE. The kids got great promise. So how do you get a kid from Neb. to CSF if you can't recruit?

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

What's your point debbie downer?

Is Dave Serrano better than Todd Raleigh? Yes!

Can he coach winning baseball? Yes!

Did he have "SEC" Talent out west? No!

Will it take time to build the baseball team? Yes!

Is being 3rd/4th in the SEC east better than being last overall in the SEC? YES!

So excuse us fans for being a little giddy!

Hey dumb cat,I never commented anywhere about Serrano. My post was to the know it all Momma Calls Me Precious. Just what is your problem.
Maybe Momma calls you an idiot.If she dosen't,she should.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Fat jokes at anyone's expense are tasteless and classless and most importantly are not funny.

Please keep them to yourself.

PS. just in case you are wondering - I am not overweight. There just is no room for that kind of ignorance here.

I would never call anyone ignorant if I were you.You seem to have the franchise locked up.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to zman44:

Bottom line: This is a good hire, and Serrano is a great coach. That being said, Vandy dominates the recruiting landscape in Tennessee and has for the past 5 years or so, since the David Price era. In short, Tim Corbin gets who he wants in Tennessee. Serrano will have to work to make inroads in the state.

If I were him, I would focus my efforts in North Georgia which is a hotbed of talent. If he can pull a few East Tennessee guys, then that would be good.

In short, you have to regionalize recruiting. Corbin has locked down Tennessee, but he also goes into New England and the Mid-Atlantic region and gets the best talent. For example, Vandy's top 2 recruits for next year are from Massachusetts and New Jersey respectively. You have to know where to find players.

As a Vandy fan, I hope UT gets better because it is more fun when its competitive. No offense, but this year's series was pretty pathetic, and bad for SEC baseball in general. Best of luck to Coach Serrano, as he's got a long way to climb considering he had the 5th best team in Tennessee behind Vandy, Belmont, ETSU, and Austin Peay.

Actually UT was the 5th best team in the state behind Walters State IMO. And don't you think that is part of the reason Vandy owns the state in recruiting? There is enough talent in Tennessee to go around. Build your core here, then go pluck a couple of players from other areas. Take this yr for example.... East Tennessee has 3 players ranked in the top 28 NATIONALLY in high school. MANY MANY more that might not be super stars, but could play at the SEC level and do well. From the Tri-Cities to Memphis we got baseball. Don't kid yourselves. Some of you need to stick your faces in the toilet and flush it. Negative, negative, negative. We get a flippin' coach who can flat out coach and is PROVEN. So then we question if he can recruit the south, when he's already done so at UT. Then we question if he can recruit Cali, even though he's born and has coached and recruited in Cali. All I can do is laugh, because you all are hilarious.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

I would never call anyone ignorant if I were you.You seem to have the franchise locked up.

They obviously didn't understand your post. How, I'll never know.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to phippo1956#453504:

you need to look no further than about 125 miles east to area around johnson city, a bunch of good prospects their. the school where the ol ball coach won back to back state titles in baseball in his day they got a pitcher named norris who could probably pitch in the majors now. and ut let a guy named hoilman get away to etsu where he just finished up a career tearing the cover off the ball. came from science hill, you knoxville people with long enough memories,know what some teams from up this way have done to the knox teams on their way to spring fling.

Norris is the #6 prospect in the nation. Boy throws 96MPH and is a Clemson commit. "You Knoxville people"...not sure what you mean by that. However, when I lived in Johnson City I did always get the idea that many folks in the area were jealous or resented Knoxville and it's people. Why? Who knows? But I do know there is good ball up there, as there is in Knoxville.

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I looked up TROLL in the dictionary and there you were! Get your kicks trying to make people get upset by your posts on this site? Bet you still were a pocket protector to keep the ink stains off those pretty short sleeved white dress shirts…

Dead giveaway is you never write anything that makes practical sense or offers any real insight. Just some meaningless statement like:
"He will make ut better in baseball but UF, Vandy, and USC will contunue (continue) to dominate and ut baseball will remain in that 3rd to 4th spot (spots) in the East. Kind of like football".

Anyone with any common sense knows that the only thing you add is something that is GUARANTEED to be proven wrong over time. These things are cyclical with big name college programs as history proves time after time. But, when that happens, you will change your handle or just go away. Either way, in the long run, everyone else will benefit from that at least...

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