Ray Tanner was a legendary coach during his tenure as South Carolina's head baseball coach. With six trips to Omaha, three straight appearances to the CWS championship game, and two straight national titles, he has a heck of a resume. Because of this, he is an icon to South Carolina fans everywhere. After he stepped down to take over as Athletic Director at USC, his understudy Chad Holbrook stepped in to take his place. Since then, we haven't been to Omaha yet, but his methods are finally paying off. This season we have yet another star-studded roster reminiscent of the days of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Scott Wingo, as well as an improved pitching staff, with Braden Webb and Clarke Schmidt forming a lethal1-2 punch. With success comes respect, and it's about time that mantra rang true for Chad Holbrook.
Popularity is a fickle commodity when it comes to coaching. One bad game can cause fans clamoring for your dismissal, and a good game could have people raving about your success. Chad Holbrook has struggled with this as consistency has not been his forte throughout his career. Despite his inconsistency, he has pulled in very good recruiting classes, and that impact is being felt this season especially. With the 2015 recruiting class coming in at #2 nationally, big things have been expected of this new group of talent. LT Tolbert and Braden Webb have given this team a valuable hitter and a lights-out pitcher this season. Clarke Schmidt, part of the 24th ranked recruiting class of 2014, has delivered in a big way and has stood out as one of the top pitchers in the SEC. But what separates the good coaches from the great coaches is success in the postseason, something that has yet to come to fruition during the Coach Holbrook's era.
While Ray Tanner was the skipper for USC baseball, postseason success was almost taken for granted. We were spoiled with three straight trips to Omaha from 2002-2004 and two straight titles in 2010 and 2011. That being said, this roster most certainly has the talent to make the trip back to the CWS. I'd be quite surprised if that threshold was not reached. What solidified the 2011 and 2012 teams as great teams was the dominant pitching staff, highlighted by Michael Roth and Matt Price. With two new stars in the rotation this season, it is an aspect that has been brought back. The only real concern with this team is the hitting, and at times (Saturday's game against Kentucky), the offense can't get in a rhythm and struggles to score, leaving men on base frequently. If Coach Holbrook can get his star players to deliver then our success will improve by leaps and bounds. In the midst of the many "Fire Holbrook" comments, I believe that if this team makes it to Omaha this year, those very doubters will become strong Holbrook supporters. Holbrook is by no means a bad coach. In reality, there aren't many better options that we could bring in. I believe in what this team can do, and I think that Coach Holbrook is the right guy to take us back to glory.