Smith named Coach of the Year by NCBWA

OMAHA, Neb. — The first time Tracy Smith found himself in the I-Lounge at Assembly Hall he admired the wall on which hang wooden plaques honoring every Indiana coach who has ever been named a national coach of the year.

“Bob Knight’s on there and Jerry Yeagley to name a few,” Smith said Saturday. “I’ve looked on that wall and said, ‘Boy, how cool is that? That will never happen to me.’ … That was my real response. That is really cool and how lucky are those guys and that will never happen to me.”

But on Saturday morning, it did. For his efforts in taking Indiana to its first ever College World Series, Smith was named national Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, receiving the award at a news conference in Omaha.
Smith’s reaction to the award, fittingly, was to deflect the praise to his charges.

“Better players make you great coaches,” Smith said. “It probably would’ve been an unsual photo opportunity to be coming in here carried on the backs of my (Kyle) Schwarbers and (Sam) Travis’s so we left them back at the hotel, but that’s how I feel.”

But of course, Smith is the one who brought the sluggers Schwarber and Travis to Indiana as well as the rest of the lineup that led the Big Ten in batting average and runs scored among numerous other offensive categories. He also built the Indiana pitching staff that led the conference in earned run average.

Smith has said repeatedly that this is the most low-maintenance team he’s ever coached, but as IU athletic director Fred Glass said, he deserve credit for making his own job easy.

“He’s just amazing,” Glass said. “… Tracy’s not only awesome at baseball, but I rely on his council all the time. He’s kind of a go-to guy on a number of areas. He’s real even-keeled. He doesn’t over-coach. He relates well to the players. He connects with them. Creates that trust level that I’ve come to understand is so critical and successful in coaching. He’s really the whole package. Not withstanding all of the different things we’ve done to support him, I think the success really lies at his feet on this deal. “

Smith wouldn’t go that far himself, but said he appreciated the award as recognition for what the program has done as a whole in his tenure. He took over the program in 2006 after the Hoosiers had suffered back-to-back losing seasons and last-place finishes in the Big Ten. In his first two seasons, the Hoosiers suffered two more of those. But since then, Indiana has posted five straight winning seasons and took a quantum leap this year. In the inaugural season of Bart Kaufman Field, the Hoosiers won the program’s first outright Big Ten regular season title since 1932, winning both the Big Ten Tournament and the regular season title for the first time ever, and have now advanced far beyond what any other team in Indiana history has. The Hoosiers head into the College World Series with a 48-14 record, posting more wins over Division I programs than any other team in Indiana history.

“Looking at what this team has had to go through to get to this point, the challenges to overcome, the facilities and all of those issues,” Smith said, “to get our program up and going and to be recognized on a national level for these sort of things, yeah, it means a lot.”

One comment

  1. Hey coach!!!!! Of all people, you should know never to say NEVER!!!!! Congrats to you and YOUR TEAM for the recognition it has earned!!!! Best wishes for continued success!!!!!

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