Tracy Smith looking for interim associate head coach

When Dan Simonds explained his potential job at IMG Academy to Tracy Smith, telling him both what the job would be and also what it would pay, the Indiana baseball coach realized he couldn’t stand in Simonds way. Simonds just took the job as Smith’s associate head coach in July, and was still months away from helping coach Indiana in a game, but Smith decided he couldn’t hold that against him.

And on Monday, when Indiana announced that Simonds had taken the position to run the baseball division of the Bradenton, Fla., based sports high school Smith supported the former Miami (Ohio) head coach and minor league manager’s decision.

“It’s a unique position,” Smith said. “His background is very appealing to him. He’s a former head coach with professional ties.. They inquired about him, he told me asked me  for my thoughts. It’s a well-paying position relative to assistant coaching. I don’t want to say that was the overriding factor for him, but there aren’t many jobs in college baseball paying that and certainly not for assistant coaches. It’s a different thing. He’s at a different point in his life. He’s been an assistant and he’s been a head coach. He wanted a new challenge. The region made sense for them as a family. It was a unique fit, so from the time he explained it to me, I’ve been supportive of it.” 

But of course, it also means that Smith also has a new position to fill, and Smith’s plan for now is to fill it twice.

The position is important, he said, so he isn’t going to rush himself into trying to fill it between now and the beginning of practice in January. Instead, he said, he will make an interim hire for this season and then make a long-term hire once the 2014 season ends. It’s possible that the interim hire could turn into a long-term hire, but what this move also allows him to do is consider taking on an older more experienced coach — possibly even one who is effectively retired — who might be willing to coach for one year but no more. That coach would be the hitting instructor and also work with outfielders. Coach Ben Greenspan is handling infielders and catchers and Brandon Higelin is the pitching coach.

“The players really bonded with Dan in the short time he was here,” Smith said. “We’re more or less going to look for someone who can come in and stabilize that relationship. The Kyle Schwarbers and the Sam Travises really bonded with Dan, and we want them to have confidence in whoever we bring in the way they did with Dan. We want someone who’s going to bring a flavor of maturity and stability.”