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Reports: Mark Kingston to South Carolina

Another huge loss for the USF Athletics.

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mark harlan & mark kingston

Multiple reports have USF Baseball coach Mark Kingston heading to South Carolina.

Texts to Kingston were not immediately returned. But they will be eventually, because Mark has been a fantastic guy for those of us covering his team to work with since his arrival.

This is a huge loss for the Bulls. In three seasons Kingston turned around a program that hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 13 years before his tenure, and got them to a Gainesville regional twice. USF hadn’t won 40 games since 1993; they won 42 this season.

No USF baseball head coach has ever gotten back in uniform after leaving the Bulls. Beefy Wright, Jack Butterfield, Robin Roberts, Eddie Cardieri, and Lelo Prado never skippered another team after leaving Fowler Avenue. That should give you an idea of how good Kingston is.

The SEC distributes about $40 million per school via their media rights deal. The American Conference distributes about $2.5 million. So when they want your head coach, he’s going to leave. Especially in the sports that pay less because the kind of salary Kingston will make can dramatically effect the lifestyle for him and his family.

We will miss him, but because of USF’s place in the conference pecking order right now, we absolutely don’t blame him. If someone offers you double the money to take a job somewhere else, and at a place with far more institutional support, you take it.

Bulls pitching coach Billy Mohl has been called a genius by so many around him, and keeping him in Tampa might be the best way for the Bulls to mitigate the loss of Kingston. Mohl is beloved by his players, and can get after it in recruiting as well. We’re not sure what direction USF athletic director Mark Harlan wants to go here, but if he wants to keep the dugout happy he’ll do everything he can to keep Mohl.

So it makes sense to wonder: if the Bulls did get to a Super Regional, does that change the outcome here? Did that 12th inning disaster in Gainesville permanently change the trajectory of the program? What about the uncalled catcher’s interference in the 10th inning that should have loaded the bases with one out?

Would USF finally invest the resources needed into the program if they had made a big splash, or does it just make it more likely Kingston would be called by bigger programs?

This year so far tells us it probably didn’t matter at all. This is the fourth coach to leave for a Power Five job in a calendar year:

Matt Hill: men’s tennis (Arizona State - restarting men’s tennis program)
George Kiefer: men’s soccer (N.C. State)
Willie Taggart: football (Oregon)
Mark Kingston: baseball (South Carolina)

And as long as USF is in this conference Purgatory, it’s going to keep happening.