THE MURPHY STORY: 2 REPORTS
Murphy Introduced as LSU Softball Coach
BATON ROUGE Patrick Murphy was officially introduced as the fifth softball coach in the illustrious history of the LSU softball Friday at a news conference held on the fifth floor of the LSU Athletic Administration Building.
Murphy was formally introduced by LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva. Below are quotes from both Alleva and Murphy. The entire news conference is available for free in the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net
VICE CHANCELLOR AND DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JOE ALLEVA
This is a great day for LSU softball. I couldn’t be more proud or honored to have Patrick Murphy as our new head coach. This was a very different search than a lot of them I’ve been a part of in my years in this business. This was a very targeted search. We made up our mind that we wanted him to be our head coach. We went after him, and we got him. We have had a great tradition of softball here. We ended an era of a Hall of Fame head coach [Yvette Girouard], a lady that I tremendously respect, and now we’re going to enter an era with a potential Hall of Fame head coach [Patrick Murphy]. This program’s not only going to stay the same, I think its going to get even better as we go forward. I’m tremendously excited. It’s great to have Alyson [Habetz] here with him. I think together they’re a tremendous team. It’s great to see the members of our team here. I hope you’re happy because I think the future is really bright. Without further adieu, our new head coach, Patrick Murphy.
LSU HEAD COACH PATRICK MURPHY
I can’t believe I’m standing up here. It’s an incredible honor to join the long line of incredible coaches here at LSU. Already it’s a family atmosphere. We had a short meeting with the team, and I thought that went incredibly well. It’s fitting that I started my career a little bit down the road [at Louisiana-Lafayette], and hopefully I’ll finish my career in Louisiana at LSU. Many of you probably don’t know this, but when I went to graduate school at USL [now ULL] every Tuesday or Wednesday night when LSU played baseball at home I drove [to Baton Rouge]. I was the biggest Ben McDonald fan, and I loved Todd Walker. I had LSU baseball t-shirts, and I wore them until I wore them out. It’s also fitting that I’m back in purple and gold because my alma mater Northern Iowa is purple and gold.
I need to thank Joe (Alleva) and (Senior Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator) Miriam (Segar), because this was an incredible opportunity for me. I got a phone call and Joe said This is the one call and hopefully it’ll be one call only. That’s never happened before in college softball. It showed me right then and there how much LSU really cares about softball. They just set the bar about 15 years in advance for college softball coaches, I truly believe that. You’ve already given me a shot of confidence, and I really appreciate that because it means a lot.
I have to thank a bunch of friends and family members in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because I spent 15 years there and it was an incredible ride. They’re some of the best softball fans in the country. I definitely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my 13 years as head coach and two years as assistant. I really want to say thank you to some individuals that helped me get to this spot. Vann Stuedeman, Kate Petullo, Skip Powers, Marie Robbins, Nick Seiler, Michelle Diltz, Jason Nance, Heather Anders, Matt Self, Dr. Jeff Laubenthal, Ashley Waters, Kimberly Johnson and Beverly Chandler. That was all the support staff at Alabama, and they did a great job for me. I’m really going to miss them. The toughest part of this for me was telling my players [at Alabama] that I was leaving. Believe me when I say it was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. The toughest thing about that is when I would call them the first thing they would say to me is Are you doing OK? That’s that type of kids we had at Alabama, and that’s the type of kids we want at LSU because they were great people. It’s a testament to the type of kids we recruited there.
One of the cool by-products of this move is an opportunity to bring a young lady home, and half of Crowley is here. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Alyson Habetz, who’s been with me for 13 years. She actually played for [Yvette] Girouard and I at USL [now ULL]. She actually walked on to the softball team because she was recruited for college basketball. She was a 1,000 point scorer, and she ended up being an All-American first baseman for us. I told the players earlier that they will not have a better female athlete role model than Alyson. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you coming with me and everything that you’ve done for me the past 13 years because you are the best assistant coach in the country. I truly believe that, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.
One last person I have to thank, and she is the reason I’m here, is Yvette Girouard. Shes the reason I got my start in softball. I was actually a Sports Information Director, and I came back from coaching baseball in Iowa and her assistant coach had left. She grabbed me in the hallway and said I have a proposition for you. How about taking on another duty? How about assistant coach? I said ,”Sure, I’ll try it.” She was the last person I talked to before I accepted this, and I asked her to tell me why I should come here. She told me it’s a great city, it’s a great university, it’s a great athletic department and you have some great kids you’re about to work with. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
I don’t think many coaches in the country can say they coached at Alabama, and definitely not many coaches can say they had the opportunity to not only coach at Alabama, but also coach at a great school like LSU. I can think of one person that has done that [current Alabama football coach Nick Saban], and he’s done pretty good. I appreciate everyone being here, thank you very much.
On the timeline of his hiring
We had a tough end to the season. On Monday, we got on the chartered plane in Oklahoma City and flew home. When I was getting off the plane in Tuscaloosa, I received a phone call and noticed the phone number had a 225 area code. I thought for sure that it was Yvette Girouard, but I thought I had her phone number stored in my phone. I did not answer the call because I was getting my luggage at the time. When I got home, I realized it was Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Joe Alleva. He said Hopefully this is the only call that I am going to have to make. You are the guy we want and if you are interested, let me know. I think Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator Miriam Segar might have called later that day. The process took about four days to complete, and today is the fifth day.
On his current impression of the LSU softball team
Our weekend in Baton Rouge was not very good. We got beat three times this season. I only did that because I knew Yvette Girouard was retiring, and I wanted to send her out on a good note. The history of softball here is incredible. I remember playing at the old Tiger Park. There were some incredible battles between LSU and Alabama. Britni Sneed, Kristin Schmidt and Dani Hofer come to mind. They had some very good athletes, and there were some incredible games between the two teams. What I liked most about today was that when we spoke to the team, almost every player had two eyes looking at me. I really appreciate that and I could tell they were looked in and I think they are ready to go.
On LSU’s vision for the softball program
To my knowledge, the way LSU went about hiring me has never happened in the sport of softball. Usually what happens is the administration compiles coaches resumes and applications to go through. The way LSU went about it in my mind only happens in football and men’s basketball. It also probably happened with the recent hiring of women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell. What they did was a huge statement to me because nobody does that. To say this is the one person that we want was very flattering to me. To me it said that LSU is doing the right things, and they’re not putting softball on the back burner. It should also say a lot to the players because it is an incredible opportunity.
On his goals for the LSU softball program
Tiger Park is awesome. It is probably one of the top five softball stadiums in the country. I know LSU had over 600 season ticket holders this year. My goal right now is to have 1,000 season ticket holders [for next season]. At Alabama, we worked in small increments in building attendance. I started at 750 fans, then went to 1,000 and then increased the goal to 1,250. Finally I said lets sell it out. I probably sent out 15,000 emails asking people to purchase season tickets and eventually we sold out of season tickets. Once fans come, they are hooked. So, the first goal is to get the stands filled. I know all fall our coaching staff is going to be putting in our system, philosophy and fundamentals. Softball and baseball are repetition sports, so it will be repetition after repetition after repetition. The players might think that we are going to do the same thing over and over again, but if you do that one thing really well, then you are probably going to win some games.
On how he first became a softball coach
After my first year of graduate school at UL-Lafayette, I returned home to Iowa. Iowa high schools play baseball and softball in the summer. My coaching idol growing up was [former Indiana basketball coach] Bobby Knight. I love college basketball, and I am a college sports fanatic. I always thought I was going to be a college basketball coach, but when I returned to UL-Lafayette after the summer, Yvette Girouard knew that I had coached baseball in the past. She knew that I could walk, chew gum and maybe use a fungo bat. She asked me if I wanted to be her assistant coach. Five years later, we were in the NCAA Tournament, went five consecutive years and eventually made it to the College World Series. Coach Girouard was the South Region Coach of the Year five times and she was the National Coach of the Year twice, and she hooked me into coaching.
On bringing assistant coach Alyson Habetz with him to LSU
When my phone rang, I initially thought Joe Alleva was going to ask about Alyson. It was tough for me because I did not know how exactly the situation was going to play out. I called Alyson and asked her what she thought about coming to LSU, and she was indecisive. When I asked her what she thought about coming to LSU as my assistant, she told me that it was a no-brainer. I think we are a great tandem as we have been together for 13 years. She knows exactly what I want. I stay out of her way and she stays out of mine.
On his thoughts of succeeding Yvette Girouard
I think my career has came full-circle. She [Girouard] gave me my first coaching job. Now I hope to make her proud and win the first SEC softball national championship because I’m tired of this conference not having one.
On what distinguishes LSU from other SEC softball programs
The first thing that stands out is the great fan support. Any time you come to LSU for any sport, you are in for a battle because of the fans. We also have great facilities, and the weather here is very conducive for softball. There is a pool of athletes in this area that as well. We are going to try to keep the athletes from Louisiana in state and Texas is only three hours down the road. Everything is in place to have a championship program.
On his coaching staff
The last position on our staff that we need to fill is the pitching coach. We have had some inquiries already, and we are focusing on finding someone to fill that position. We definitely want a former pitcher that has pitched in big games and has the experience because I think there is a huge difference between a former pitcher and someone that played another position. I think its key for a softball pitcher to have someone that has pitcher before in the dugout and in the bullpen working with her all the time.
A REPORT FROM TUSCALOOSA
by Tommy Deas, Birmingham News
TUSCALOOSA | Long-time University of Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy resigned Thursday to take the same position at LSU, accepting an offer that is expected to make him the highest-paid coach in the sport.
Murphy, who amassed a 712-210 record in 13 seasons at Alabama, including a 53-11 record and run to the semifinal round at the Women’s College World Series in 2011, leaves after taking the Crimson Tide to back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships. UA has made seven trips to the World Series since 2000, including three of the last four years.
Murphy was offered a total salary package that is expected pay him more than $200,000 per year at LSU, a source familiar with the situation said. The source said UA matched LSU’s offer, but that Murphy decided to leave anyway.
Murphy, 45, made $140,000 per year at UA.
“I think it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Murphy said. “I could tell from the beginning that they were extremely serious about building a championship softball program.
“Calling the kids was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life because they’re my family here. It’s like telling your daughters that you’re leaving.”
Associate head coach Alyson Habetz will be joining Murphy’s LSU staff. UA pitching coach Vann Stuedeman could not be reached for comment.
Murphy’s move left former players shocked and unhappy.
“I’m a little bit upset and disappointed,” said two-time Olympian Kelly Kretschman, who played at UA from 1998-2001. “Murphy was the face of Alabama softball for a long time, and for him to leave for another program, a program that’s a hated rival in the conference, it’s disappointing.
“I just hope the players and recruits coming in still want to come because Alabama softball is about all the great players who have played there and all the great tradition the program has built. Murphy has never worn the uniform, he’s never swung a bat, he’s never worn a glove. Alabama softball will still be there without him.”
Said Staci Ramsey, an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin who played at UA from 2003-2006, “I’m pretty floored. It hurts and it stings a lot. When I first heard, I was sick to my stomach. I thought surely this is not true.
“He did what’s best for him and that’s how it goes, I guess. You’ve got to do what’s best for you in this business, and it is a business, but for me it’s going to be very hard to see him in anything other than crimson and white.”
Mal Moore, Alabama’s athletics director, issued a statement praising Murphy’s tenure.
“I can’t say enough about the job Patrick has done for us here at Alabama,” he said. “He’s an outstanding individual. He has built this program up to the top level nationally. I hate to see him go, but I wish him the very best. He’ll be missed in Tuscaloosa.
“We will start a search for a new head coach immediately.”
Murphy said he will miss the UA fan base. Alabama has been an annual leader in total or average attendance, setting a record in 2011 with an average of more than 2,800 fans per game.
“To see people in the capital of college football embrace softball like they have in the last 10 years has just been incredible,” Murphy said. “I just appreciate everybody being good people to us. They made it a lot of fun. I told somebody I haven’t worked a day in my life because of the game and the girls and the fans and the support staff.
“I’ve done it for 15 years and we’ve done great things. The batteries are still going. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do it at another place. It’s going to be exciting.”
Spy note: The combined stories answer many of the questions submitted by readers and/or posted on other blogs, eg, the timing of the decision, the scope of the search, and salaries. A great number of the stories about which coaches were competing apparently had no foundation. Now, Spy is seeing the samw speculation about who will succeed Murphy at Alabama.