My personal feelings about how much longer Chad Holbrook should get are already stated. I think he's a capable baseball coach, but he's running out of time (and a large part of the fanbase is running out of patience; if they haven't already) to prove himself to the Carolina faithful. However, one thing I have seen on Twitter, largely by University sponsored media, since Carolina bowed out of the SEC tournament is drawing parallels between Ray and Chad's first three years at USC. I know it is sometimes the media's obligation to occasionally pump out the sunshine and rainbows, but the lack of context in these arguments is a little illogical. For example, Spurs and Feathers tweeted something yesterday that caught my eye (note: I typically like the content that Spurs and Feathers puts out, I just really disagree with this one thought).
Nobody wants to mention this parallel between Holbrook and Tanner. Both missed NCAA in year three. We all know what happened next w/ Tanner— Spurs & Feathers (@SpursFeathers) May 20, 2015
Let's look at both Ray and Chad's first three years by the numbers:
|Ray Tanner||Chad Holbrook|
|1997: 33-24 (13-17); no postseason||2013: 43-20 (17-12); NCAA Super Regional|
|1998: 44-18 (18-12); NCAA Regional||2014: 44-18 (18-12); NCAA Regional|
|1999: 35-23 (15-15) SEC East Champs; no postseason||2015: 32-25 (13-17); likely no postseason|
On the surface, these numbers may look very similar. But if you look at the context of the two situations, they couldn't be more different. When Ray came to Columbia he had a couple of things working to his advantage. He had a proven track record at NC State (395-173 over nine years with 7 NCAA appearances) and he had time. While South Carolina had a solid baseball tradition at the time, they had only made 2 NCAA tournaments in June Raines' last nine seasons at the helm (after a run of 7 straight in the 80s). While the program had a nice tradition and history, when Ray was hired it was starting to falter. We all know how Ray's tenure ended and he left it as the undisputed top program in the country.
After a run from 2010-2012 that gave Carolina two championships and a runner-up finish, that Chad had a huge role in as he was hired in 2009, Coach Holbrook was given the proverbial keys to the Lamborghini. Ray left this program in a much better spot than he found it. Not only did he leave USC baseball as the top program in the nation, but he also left it with arguably the top stadium and facilities in the country. While Chad was heralded as a great recruiter and developer of talent when he was named head coach, there is an obvious lack of that through his third full year. While he has continued to bring in top recruiting classes, they were either misses evaluation wise or there has been a lack of development across the board. While the 2015 team may be on par with the 1999 team, considering the deeper context behind the two situations, this is certainly not a good thing for Carolina baseball.
For whatever reason, Carolina baseball has fallen off significantly since Holbrook was named the head coach. Maybe he's the problem, maybe it's the coaching staff, the types of players or a combination of these things. But it's time to stop acting like the spot USC baseball is in is okay. I think Holbrook had unfair expectations when he started, but I don't think any rational fan expects us to win a national title every year. I'll grant that the 2010-2012 baseball seasons are the golden years of Carolina athletics, and those types of years only happen occasionally. However, reaching the Super Regionals at the very least, and occasionally only making the regionals, regularly is not an absurd standard to have. Achieving this will put our team in position to compete for championships. But completely missing the postseason, 3 years removed from a runner up finish, is completely unacceptable. It's time to stop drawing parallels between the early careers of Ray and Chad. The situations, and the context behind it, could not be more different.