Source: Lemonis set to leave IU for Mississippi State

Chris Lemonis is in line to become the next head baseball coach at Mississippi State, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Herald-Times on Sunday night.

Lemonis, who led IU for four seasons, accumulated a 141-91-2 record in Bloomington and guided the Hoosiers to NCAA Regional appearances in three out of his four campaigns.

He leaves the Indiana program after coaching the team to a 40-19 record during the 2018 season, leading the Hoosiers to the Austin Regional final.

D1Baseball.com first reported Lemonis’ move to Mississippi State late Sunday night. Lemonis is set to take over from interim coach Gary Henderson. Former Mississippi State coach Andy Cannizaro resigned three games into the 2018 season.

Lemonis replaced former IU coach Tracy Smith — who left to take the Arizona State job — after the 2014 season, becoming the only coach in program history to make three regionals in his first four seasons as IU’s coach. He and Smith are tied for the most NCAA postseason appearances in program history.

All three tournament appearances under Lemonis came as at-large bids — the only at-large bids IU’s program has ever earned.

Under Lemonis, Indiana booked an aggressive national schedule to build off the success of Smith’s program, which reached the College World Series in 2013 and hosted a second consecutive regional in 2014.

The Hoosiers maintained their position as one of the Big Ten’s few nationally-relevant baseball programs, but struggled to capture crowns and advance in the postseason. Under Lemonis, IU neither won the Big Ten nor advanced past the NCAA Tournament’s regional round.

Lemonis, nationally recognized as one of the sport’s top recruiters, built balanced, aggressive teams during his four-year run at IU.

During the Lemonis era, Indiana had 13 individual players selected in the MLB Draft, including four this month.

28 comments

  1. I am guessing he will meet the same train wreck that befell Tracy Smith. Be careful what you wish for. Mississippi State is…Mississippi State.

  2. Kind of ironic. Local folks didn’t take to him like they did Smith. He never seemed happy and that is my opinion, but shared by many others. I’d talked to him multiple times, but my son was at camp last week. I played dumb and struck up a conversation with him. I wrote my buddies that he seemed self absorbed, preoccupied and would leave IU soon. That was last freaking week lol. Move on and don’t let the door hit ya!

    1. Yeah, I agree. Leaving for ASU I can understand.

      Mississippi State seems like a leap to a crappy school that may or may not have a better program.

      As you said, watch that door…

      1. Chet,
        For someone who claims to know a lot about the south, you really know very little. A whistlestop tour through several states on assignment does not tell you much. If you would take a little time to research you will find MS state has one of the finest, if not the finest baseball facilities in the country. Makes Kaufman look like an outhouse and IU’s facility is probably the best in the B1G and the midwest!

        This was a huge move up in the baseball world for Lemonis, those in SEC country know a lot about the athletic programs at the schools over in Mississippi. This school has been very close to getting over the top for several years now, and Lemonis likely saw it as the opportunity to be the one to do it. Early in the year with their former coach problem I was afraid this might be the school to take our guy and my fears were confirmed.

        1. My whistlestop tour took about 40 years.

          I didn’t say Mississippi State didn’t have a nice baseball field. I said it was a crappy school. Would you want your kids going there? Their historical legacy is not a good one that even they try to forget.

          1. In 2017-2018 Mississippi State is ranked as the 344th best university in America by Money magazine.

          2. What were they ranked in baseball? This move has nothing to do with them being an academic powerhouse.

          3. Perhaps to you.

            If that’s all you care about…there you go. I never disparaged the baseball program. I just said it was a crappy school.

            I’m sure they are consistently ranked higher than IU…in baseball.

          4. Begs the question(as it pertains to a ‘football in the South’ discussion on another thread)….Does the South have more dominant football programs because it’s also built on a far less demanding/stringent academic standard than many northern schools….? Does the north not only compete against climate and demographics? Is the north also constrained to compete on even ground by higher admissions standards? Does it simply boil down to a greater love of football and baseball in the South….or is it the ease of larger pools of talent qualifying to play within their programs?
            Do we need look any further than the UNC academic scandal that was swept under the rug for eternity by the NCAA? Money talks a lot louder than grades or admission standards.

        2. thinkaboutit,
          Out of curiosity…how many decades did you live in the south acquiring your vast wealth of knowledge?

          1. Chet,
            I apologize for not responding sooner, had a few other priorities. Actually, I have been down here a while longer than you. Lest anyone think I have any illusions about the serious shortcomings of the southern region of our country, I do not. Neither am I under any illusions about any other area of the country. Though like many others there has been ample reason for me to do so, I have chosen not to allow my rather lenghty soujourn in the south to be a cause of bitterness.

            What I am trying to point out is the fortunes in athletics between the southern schools, mainly the SEC, and the rest of the country. Doesn’t make me happy about it, but facts are facts. We can’t make excuses about the diminshing B1G fortunes and blame it on academics even if the southern schools are not up to speed. Remember this is the same argument the Northeastern powers of a very long time ago used, when explaining why athletic prowess had moved west into B1G country and beyond. We didn’t exactly appreciate their excuses out in Indiana back then either.

            The simple fact of the matter in the last 25 years the B1G has a total of 4 national championships between Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Compared to the ACC with 15 and the SEC with 27. It gets worse the closer we come to the present. Sadly in the last 15 years the B1G has the lone 2014 OSU FB championship. Athletically speaking in these sports, the B1G is being out competed even with the additions to the conference.

            Not trying to be arguementative, but this is not the only area the southern region is trying to outcompete the northern regions. You are probably well aware of this being in the south as long as you have. We both know the southern region has serious pitfalls, but neither is it what it was over 40 years ago. As for Lemonis going to MS State, they are one of about 10 SEC schools he could have gone to for a legitimate chance of winning a CWS. Would take a Herculean effort for any B1G school to do so, we already have seen how hard it can be even with the greatest team in IU baseball history and the best B1G in the last 40-50 years.

            Speaking of that little podunk school out in MS, they just put 55 million into their baseball facility, if I’m not mistaken, that’s more than what we put into renovating AH. They could seriously compete for a B1G FB championship and remember they compete in the SEC west, hardly a cakewalk. Nearly made it to the BCS a couple years ago. That’s all with an enrollment barely 10% of IU and not nearly as many resources.

            I could care less about MS State or any other SEC/southern school for that matter. Just don’t like seeing IU/B1G being athletically out competed in this manner. I remember a time when the B1G did rule the roost and this turn of events is very unpleasant. I am just trying to explain to those not familiar with the south, how they are doing it. May not be doing a very good job of it, but I am trying.

            I apologize if I upset you or anyone else in the process.

          2. No problem.

            IU has had remarkable success for a northern team. I believe it was 1987 the last time a Big Ten team made it to the CWS. It is a southern/west coast sport and IU broke their stranglehold. The Hoosiers are unlikely to be regular CWS attendees but I appreciate their recent success.

            IU is unlikely to reach the ratified baseball air of MSU but the thought of moving my own family to Starkville, MS, would be unthinkable.

    2. Why do you need to “play it dumb?” If your heart is not in it when you approach someone, what good does it do either one of you?

  3. Is IU baseball a stepping stone? Hard to be any better than it has been if coaches go after a little bit of success at IU given opportunity. Cost effectiveness laying out so much money to keep a coach is just not feasible or would it even work? I guess facility though maybe good by big ten standards represents priorities for IU along with other big ten schools. Simply not a great baseball conference. More of a compete and participate conference.

  4. Chet I’ve experienced Mississippi too and the South in general. Mississippi is Mississippi. 1 of the most uncomfortable climates I’ve experienced this side of Vietnam. Humidity on top of humidity. I hope their fancy stadium is enclosed. The message here is IU is noticed as being relevant to baseball. There will be exciting, aggressive young BB coaches begging Glass for an interview. IU marches on.

    1. I can’t imagine moving to Mississippi if I had a choice in the matter.

      The running joke in South Carolina, not exactly a paradise by any measure, was that the state motto is ‘thank God for Mississippi’.

  5. Maybe the weather was a deciding factor for the move, practicing in 30 degree weather and having poor weather conditions for most of the 2018 home baseball games. Moving to an elite baseball conference, warm weather conditions and not having to be a road team the first part of the season and having a renovation of the baseball stadium to increase seating to over 13,000. We have I U Baseball season tickets and the 2018 home season weather was winter wear gear and the weather resulted in low fan turnout for the games. Looking forward to meeting the new coach.

  6. I agree with all the comments above. I wander is Coach Smith would like to come back. Too many coaches don’t realize they are at the perfect situation until they are gone. In this case, it just seemed like Coach Lemonis never wanted to be here. Maybe it was the weather or just the wrong conference. He improved the program and our schedule so I hope he finds what he is looking for. I seriously would love to have Coach Smith back. It is obvious that the ASU thing hasn’t worked out. I think he was a high energy coach that really relished his time at IU.

  7. Tracy Smith is in hot water at Arizona State, but taking a big pay cut to return to I U, I don’t think is in the making. Also Tracy Smith is a pretty hard nosed coach, and the young players don’t buy into those situations. The biggest change for the off season for Arizona State baseball is to make the ball park smaller by reducing the distances to the outfield walls for easier home runs. Coach Smith has had people make determinations of how many runs were lost this season because of the longer distance to the outfield walls. We need a fresh face for I U Baseball, hoping for repeat of history isn’t the answer.

  8. Few years ago Indiana State had a high integrity coach Bob Warren for about 30 years. I know it was smaller college but at his peak had some good success including college world series. Either IU needs to pay bunches of money or find a coach who loves on IU baseball and similar to Bob Warren.

  9. I believe Hugh Kellenberger fits perfectly with the Mississippi State academic rating. If the shugh fits, wear it….

  10. If you’re going to be staying at a Holiday Inn Express anytime in the near future, please give a shout-out to the desk that the founder of Holiday Inn was a Mississippi State graduate. This could get you a room rate reduction…or an upgrade to third floor suite.

    And nobody messes with Mike Miller’s Orioles….”Buck” Showalter is a Mississippi State grad.

    I’m beginning to sense a conspiracy to steal our baseball coach was in the works….Kellenberger covers Mississippi State….Mike Miller’s precious Orioles has a Mississippi State connection at the manager level. Never underestimate the influence of journalists who make the smalltalk in the locker rooms with the coaches. I would be checking emails/text messages between Hugh Kellenburglar and “Bean Spiller” Miller.

  11. Regardless of who the next coach will be or why Lemonis is leaving, turning over winning head coaches every four seasons is not good for IU’s baseball program. I believe it is safe to assume that both Smith and Lemonis left IU for significantly more money. A secondary factor may have been that both coaches perceived their new schools have the potential to compete for College World Series Championships and IU does not. But money was the primary reason in both cases. (I don’t think baseball coaches, or baseball players desiring a career in the Major Leagues give a hoot about a school’s academic ranking, it’s about playing baseball). Either Glass will address the problem of our last two winning bb coaches getting poached for more money, by increasing that position’s compensation, or IU will continue to be a stepping-stone program and experience turnover every three or four years. It is never good for any organization to experience undesired turnover. For high-performing organizations, the only turnover they should experience is the turnover the organization initiates.

  12. Smith may have also left due to his son’s involvement with the Mellencamp boys and the scandal surrounding some ‘properly handled’ assault charges. I doubt money had very much to do with the move…..
    Wilson was not lured to leave by money…Player welfare scandal + wouldn’t be puppet strung by Fred.
    Crean was not lured to leave by money….Poor in-state recruiting + abysmal March Madness results as it related to team talent/rankings/reasonable expectations of a demanding fan base.
    Smith was not lured to leave by money…Likely family pressures.
    Curt Miller was not lured to leave by money…I’m not sure of all the insuations made by those “in the know” on this blog, but there were rumors of reasons that had nothing to do with finances or results.

    There seems to be the money narrative, but all coaching changes in our major sports had nothing to do with money, contracts, or extensions. Poor performance and a breakdown in relationships/trust in the AD is more the reality….along with pressures from a fan base that eventually demands change and better results.

  13. When life gives you Lemonis, make Lemonisade….?

    Forrest Gump: Lemonis as Lemondoes.

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