17 seasons was enough for Whit Babcock. In all honesty, it was probably seven or ten years too late. When you're nearly 100 games below the .500 mark in your tenure, something is not working. To be exact, Cleary is 435-528 in his 17 seasons at the helm of the UC baseball program.
College baseball seems to fall through the cracks especially around here. The Reds are the main focus, so UC baseball gets pushed to the back burner. It's not that the program hasn't had any success because it has. There are a number of former Bearcats in the Major Leagues right now and have had fine careers. But, no one has the passion about UC baseball as they do about basketball and football obviously. And that's not a reflection on Brian Cleary either. I honestly think if UC baseball were as good as Louisville's program, it would still be largely ignored.
But it is time to make a statement about UC baseball. Far too long it has been running in neutral. They're never going to make a run at Omaha, but an appearance in a regional would be fun once in a while, wouldn't it?
In fairness to Brian Cleary, who by most accounts is a wonderful man/coach/human being, he has been forced to run a program (like so many others at UC) that is underfunded and devoid of several scholarships. There's no official number as to just how many scholarships the UC baseball program has been able to award over the last few years, but the consensus is that they were not at the NCAA maximum of 11.7 for the program. In case you did not know, NCAA Division I baseball does not have the luxury of awarding 30 or more full rides to lure better talent. They must break up scholarships so every player in all likelihood is paying some part of their tuition/books/board. So for example, even if UC is four scholarships under the NCAA limit, that's a bunch of players who aren't getting any form of help toward school, etc. It is a big difference.
UC has a great stadium. Have you seen the thing? It's gorgeous! There is great baseball around Cincinnati as well. But the local kids keep going to MAC schools year after year. Why? Stay home and play at UC!
If nothing else, Whit Babcock has finally gotten the time to take a look at something besides a contract extension for Mick Cronin, hiring another football coach, the Nippert project, and (most likely) the 5/3 project to take a look around at some of the other major programs on campus. It was baseball's turn to face the music. I am not a Brian Cleary hater. Good lord I've never met the man. Just one man's opinion here, 17 years is more than enough time to establish a program and I just don't think it ever happened. They were always on the cusp of something great. "Just one more year!"
Sorry, I just think it's time to raise the bar a little. And I think Whit Babcock agrees. And I also think he will make another fabulous hire. Let's just hope he holds a press conference to display just how great of an athletic director he is.
Note: Yes, I'm rusty. Can you tell? It's been far too long since I wrote something. Frankly I just couldn't come up with something fun to discuss. Sadly, I felt the need to write something largely negative about UC baseball. When does the summer league start???