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."
Dave Serrano File
Born: June 28, 1964 (Torrance, Calif.).
Family: Wife Tracy, sons Kyle (15), Zachary (13), Parker (7).
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.
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
Advanced to College World Series in 2007 and 2009
Advanced to NCAA tournament from 2006-11