USF has hired Mark Kingston of Illinois State as the sixth manager in USF Baseball history.
The two-time Missouri Valley Coach Of The Year has won at least 30 games in each of his five seasons in Normal. Considering the program dates back to 1890, and has only had 13 30-win seasons in its history, that's really impressive. Kingston also won two MVC regular season titles and one conference tournament title which earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2010.
Kingston brings a strong track record of winning at all his previous stops as well, including as an assistant on the 2001 College World Series Champion Miami Hurricanes. He was also a part of the Tulane team that made the CWS in 2005, and played in Rosenblatt Stadium as a player in 1989 with North Carolina during their trip to Omaha. Kingston also played five years in the minors, including stops in Daytona and Orlando as part of the Cubs organization after being drafted by the Brewers.
There's probably no one better to talk about the new Bulls skipper than former USF BullsCast broadcaster Ronan O'Shea, who spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons as the Redbirds SID and play-by-play guy. Here's some fantastic insight from Ronan below:
I had the opportunity to work with Mark on a daily basis over the last two years in the role of play-by-play announcer and sports information director for the baseball team. Mark is the ultimate professional. He is a man of his word and treats everyone with respect, two qualities that are not always the norm in college athletics. It was evident to me that his players and staff respected him and enjoyed playing for him. I have nothing but good things to say about him.
What impressed me about Mark is he truly is passionate about improving as a coach on a daily basis. He has embraced sabermetrics, resulting in a more progressive-approach for managing. It's an approach that has yielded overwhelmingly successful results. He isn't the type of manager who is going to wait for the ninth inning to utilize his best relief pitcher/closer. If the heart of the order is coming up in the seventh or eighth inning in a close game, he's going to turn to his closer to get the most important outs. We saw this routinely over the last two seasons with Redbird pitchers Jeremy Rhoades, Brock Stewart and David Suarez. He doesn't like to give up outs, either, so bunting was something we didn't see a lot of over the last two years. He'll stack the order with high on-base percentage batters and his teams will find ways to win. They always do.
In 2013, despite entering April below .500, Kingston guided the squad to 24 wins over the final 28 games to win the Valley title outright for the first time in school history and advance to the MVC Championship game. That season, Illinois State was without a pitching coach for nearly a month as Bill Mohl's wife passed away from cancer.
With regards to his staff:
Mike Current has one of the sharpest baseball minds you'll meet. He's incredibly hard working, disciplined and has been Mark's right-hand man at Illinois State. He will be a tremendous asset to USF and those working with the team on a daily basis will really appreciate what he offers.
Bill Mohl was a hard-throwing prep prospect out of Texas who Mark recruited to Tulane. He was power arm in New Orleans and had a very successful college career. He came with Mark as pitching coach to Illinois State. In 2013, I watched Mohl turn Chris Razo from a juco arm to the MVC Pitcher of the Year. Razo currently is in the Brewers minor league system. His work with Jeremy Rhoades, Dan Savas and Dylan Craig (likely three draft picks later this week) has been remarkable. Players love pitching for him and his success in the MVC was evident.
It's important to note that in his five seasons at Illinois State, Mark's coaching staff never changed. I don't think that there's any question that the consistency of maintaining his coaching staff played a major role in why he was so successful.
He really grew as a coach during his long stint at Tulane. It's where he cut his teeth as a recruiter. He has strong ties to Florida and helped coach Miami to a National Title.
I can't stress enough what a tremendous hire this truly is for USF. Mark will make the Bulls a perennial contender. He will guide them to a College World Series. I wish nothing but the best for Mark, Bill and Mike. I know Bulls fans are in for a treat because you are going to love these guys.
Ronan is a smart baseball guy that intimately understands both USF and ISU from the inside. To get that kind of blessing from him should mean the USF fans should be giving a big thumbs-up to this hire.
Also we found some other pieces about Kingston that should get you excited. Check out this one on schools that might be potential suitors for him from two years ago, and this one that summarized the end of the season for ISU.
If you want to hear his voice, here's Kingston appearing on the Top Coach Podcast in August of 2013. We're still listening to it, but we really like what we hear so far.
Since calling this a home run hire in baseball is way too cliche, let's just say that it looks like USF really got a fantastic guy here. And the fact he cancelled an interview with Tulane where he coached previously to come here shows how much he believes in the potential of this program.