It was no secret that USF Baseball Coach Lelo Prado's hold on his job after this season was certainly tenuous at best. His second USF contract was expiring, and the Bulls haven't reached an NCAA Regional in the eight years he's been in charge. That math could be pretty tough to swallow.
But it looks like his other skills will be put to good use at USF, as after this season he'll become the "associate director of athletics for administration and external services" (abbreviations on the business cards, please). It's a role that, according to USF's press release, "will serve as a sport administrator, develop community outreach and marketing initiatives, aid fundraising efforts and assist Harlan and Deputy Athletics Director Barry Clements on a day-to-day basis."
Let's break this down:
1. Sport administrator: No one better than a guy with 26 years of coaching to supervise other coaches.
2. Community outreach & marketing initiatives: Lelo hasn't ever been shy to market his team even when they haven't been winning. He's an engaging speaker and can get ideas going.
3. Aid fundraising efforts: When you're as tied to Tampa as Prado is, you know where all the bodies in West Tampa are buried. If you're from here or have lived here, you know how important family and connections are to our generations of Latin communities. Lelo's Cuban-Tampa heritage is a point of pride as evidenced here. Being able to finally focus on development full-time could really be a win for USF Athletics. Having Tino Martinez as a brother-in-law doesn't hurt either.
Don't think this is a golden parachute. Both former executive associate AD Craig Angelos and senior women's administrator/associate AD Amy Perkins were jettisoned last week with no such cushion. We got to know and like Craig in the brief time he was here, and thought the world of Amy who had been there so long we were actually in USF Athletics meetings with her (and we left in '07). She was the sport administrator for our beloved volleyball team for about a decade, and a very popular person as far as we knew. Clearly Mark Harlan isn't afraid to move people along if he thinks that's best. He must see in Prado the same things we do above.
We'll have a preview up of the AAC Tournament tomorrow, but for now let's hope Lelo's last week as a head coach is a memorable one.
As far as who the new guy might be, obviously when the team just a few exits down I-275 is 51-2 as UTampa is their coach is going to get some consideration. Joe Urso is chasing his fourth D-II national championship with the Spartans (Prado won two there too before heading to Louisville and then USF), but let's not give him the job yet. That piece we referenced earlier showed some of the, ahem, philosophical differences between USF and UT. Plus UT's roster has a big chunk of D1 transfers that don't want to sit out a year to play somewhere else. Recruiting freshmen and recruiting transfers is a whole different ball of wax.
We think Harlan dips into his connections from the west coast to find his guy. Remember, his previous employer won the national championship last year. He knows people that have just won at literally the highest level of collegiate baseball. To think that's not a factor in this decision is crazy.
We agree with this Tweet wholeheartedly:
One prominent state of Florida assistant told me yesterday: " @USFBaseball is a potential gold mine." Tend to agree with that sentiment.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogersPG) May 19, 2014
This should be a great job for whomever the new coach is. Let's see in which direction the new leadership decides to head.