The long time Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Jamey Shouppe made the announcement this afternoon that he will not be returning to Florida State next year. Florida State did the classy thing and allowed Shouppe to make it look like it was his decision.
This decision is not a knee jerk reaction to an embarrassing loss in the Super Regionals but a result of a Seminole pitching staff that has declined in recent years.
It has been well documented that Shouppe has turned a once solid pitching staff into nothing more than league average which is a major reason why the Noles keep falling short. The result of the pitching decline is two fold, poor development and poor recruiting. Florida State finished 2011 and 2010 with recruiting classes not ranked in the top 25, they were last ranked in 2009 where they came in at 24th overall, sandwiched in between NCST and Duke. Currently the Seminoles have zero players in the Top 100 that are expected to make it on campus next year.
More on the pitching change and what the Seminoles can expect moving forward...
Do you think that Martin finally realized the damage Shouppe was doing to the program or do you think he just realized he has limited time left and was willing to try anything?
It is probably a combination of both. FSU started the season with 20 pitchers on the roster and at the end of the season with only two that they count on to even throw strikes let alone pitch quality innings. When your pitching has declined for the last 4 years you have to look at the kids you're bringing in and how they are being developed. When that person is responsible for both, it makes the decision to finally make changes easy. Martin may come off as a slow talking good ole' country boy but he isn't stupid and in the end it is his legacy that is on the line.
What issues can be immediately addressed? What issues will have to wait a year?
Whoever the new coach is he will not be walking into a team full of quality arms. Shouppe really ruined the reputation of FSU and top pitching recruits have been shying away from Tallahassee for a couple of years. The secondary signing period for high school is still open and there is a possibility that they could land a player or two but it might be tough. There is always the JUCO ranks but that would be a reach, really good JUCOs get drafted, they don't go to 4-year universities.
Are there any guys that immediately come to mind?
The name that is being floated around heavily is former Seminoles' pitcher Mike Bell. If the Seminoles decide to look outside the family (which might be a good idea) then they can look at the MLB ranks like UF and LSU just did. This however can be very expensive and the FSU baseball budget isn't as grand as its SEC counterparts. It is really tough to narrow down candidates other than Bell as the coaching pool is immense. Florida State also knows that Martin will not coach forever, so do they go out and find a coach with the intent of one day making him the head coach or will it be spelled out that he is only to be an assistant.
What do we know about Bell?
He has been the recruiting coordinator/pitching coach at Oklahoma since 2007 and prior to that he was an assistant at Tennessee. When Bell arrived in Norman the pitching staff was in the bottom half of the league, it took a few years but now they are in the top half of a strong pitching conference. With the talent readily available to him there is no doubt that FSU pitching will improve.
The parallels to Jeff Bowden have been drawn for Jamey Shouppe, but in that situation it was clear that Bobby needed to go as well, but FSU didn't do that and was punished for three additional years. Why should Mike Martin be able to stay?
For as much heat as we put on Martin he really has changed in the past few years. He has allowed his son more input in the program and has allowed him to make more decisions about the program. The fact that his long time colleague is no longer at this school shows that he is serious about making this program elite again and doesn't want to be known as the coach that could never win it all.
We've agreed that FSU has one of the best hitting coaches in the entire country and one of the worst pitching coaches. With a new pitching coach in the fold, where would you now rate FSU's combo of hitting and pitching coach?
The University of Florida missed two NCAA tournaments in a row, went out hired a new coach and great assistants. Four short years later they arguably have the most talented team in the country and are in the College World Series for the 2nd year in a row with a legitimate shot of winning it all. Florida State is not near the level that UF was and can recover much quicker. With two young guys recruiting the fertile grounds of Florida the talent should return and with hungry coaches this team will be more competitive against elite level teams.
Florida State needs to due their due diligence in finding a replacement. The focus should not be finding some guy who can salvage next season but someone who can help develop a program that will consistently be successful. Fans also need to be patient as this team is not loaded with talent, especially on the pitching side. As new information becomes available we will keep you informed.