Pitt has a new leader of its baseball program.
Last night, athletic director Heather Lyke announced the hiring of Florida State associate head coach and pitching coach Mike Bell.
Bell becomes 5th head coach in the history of the Pitt baseball program.
In order to gain some insight into Bell, PSN spoke this morning to Kendall Rogers, the managing editor of the website D1baseball.com.
PSN: What sort of sign does this show as far as the commitment Pitt is ready to put into the baseball program. Is this a statement hire?
Kendall Rogers: “It really is. When you’re playing in the ACC, it’s one of those situations where you’re either serious about it or you’re not real serious and this shows that Pitt is really interested in winning at a really high level in the league. I was looking at Mike’s resume last night and I always held him in high esteem. You’re talking about a guy who, granted he’s been at Florida State, hasn’t won less than 40 games since 2008. This is no doubt a statement hire because I think there was a decent chance he could’ve gotten the job at Florida State once Mike Martin is done. Mike Bell decided to step out and do his own thing. I’ll be honest, when I originally heard that he was the hire there I was pretty surprised. My understanding is and we’ll see what the contract details are, but I’m hearing that Pitt is making a much stronger commitment from a financial perspective across the board and that’s good to see.”
PSN: This wasn’t Bell’s first chance to be a head coach, how was Heather Lyke able to land him?
Kendall Rogers: “Being an ACC school helps. If Pitt is a Big East or American team I don’t think he goes there but the fact that Pitt is an ACC school. They certainly have some talented arms there. They didn’t get to the postseason but they showed a little bit of a flurry at the end of the ACC tournament so they had a foundation that they could sell to him. I think the other thing is they showed a stronger financial commitment. My assumption is that Bell made around $200,000 at FSU and my assumption is that he’s now making north of $400,000 at Pitt. So that would strike a cord with a lot of people. I think there’s some pieces in place at Pitt where they can win some games and have a pretty quick rise. The other thing is Mike’s willingness to keep Jerry Oaks, who a lot of people around that program were very passionate about keeping.”
PSN: What is Mike Bell’s strong point and what will he bring to the Pitt baseball program?
Kendall Rogers: “The strong foundation of people he’s worked with during the years. Certainly Mike Martin, it’s hard to beat that type of pedigree. As far as his personality, you’ll find this out when he gets there, Mike is a very demanding guy but he’s also calm and has that southern approach. He’s not a loud guy but he’ll demand a lot and he’ll be someone that has strong relationships with his players.”
PSN: How high can Mike Bell take Pitt baseball and being a member of the ACC which is very strong, what are realistic expectations and can Pitt make that next step?
Kendall Rogers: “I wouldn’t put it past them. We’re not that far removed from Virginia being a program that was considering dropping its program and we all know now where Virginia is from a success standpoint but also a facility standpoint. There is absolutely zero reason why Pitt can’t be a program like UConn in the American, getting to regionals every few years, they’re in the mix for the regional hosting sites. I’m not going to sit here and say they can be a program like Miami or Florida State. The thing you want to do as a northern team is, you’re recruiting has to almost be impeccable for you to be good every year. It’s hard for the Big 10 schools to do that, it’s hard for the northern schools in the American to do that and it will be hard for Pitt to do that long-term. But can Pitt’s program be very competitive and get to regionals every couple years, I don’t see any reason why they can’t because there’s plenty of examples of programs that have done that.”