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What Went Wrong With Auburn Baseball Season?

By on May 20th, 2014 in Baseball 11 Comments »

Senior Dillon Ortman made two starts in Auburn’s season ending series against LSU. (photo:Anthony Hall,AUmedia)

Normally I love this time of year. Sandwiched between spring football and summer workouts are the SEC and NCAA Baseball Tournaments. Like most Auburn people, I’m a big football fan. However, I also enjoy SEC baseball … in particular Auburn Baseball.

I suppose one of the reasons for that is baseball is a game I can watch and pull for my team without the intense emotion and tightness in my stomach that I often have at  football games. The fact the game is more relaxing is probably one of the reasons it has been dubbed “America’s pastime.”

Today is the start of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Like every year, I will be following the action, but unlike most years I will not be making the trip to Hoover. Why? Because the trouble and expense of a trip is not as enticing when my team didn’t make the field.

I’ll get over it, but it’s sad for nine seniors who’s Auburn careers ended Saturday: Blake AustinReid CarterTerrance DedrickDan GlevenyakMichael O’NealDillon OrtmanRyan TellaDamek Tomscha and Jay Wade all deserve better.

Despite a rocky up and down season, the Tigers entered last weekend’s LSU series potentially needing just one game to crack that number 12 spot in the brackets. Yet a team that started off with visions of going to the College World Series was swept by the Bayou Bengals. What was the most embarrassing part of it was that in those three games, the Orange and Blue was outscored 29-4. 

After a season that started off with such high promises, everyone was left with questions. The players, the fans, and I’m sure the coaches wondered what went wrong? I know I did. How could an Auburn Team that finished 33-28 last season and qualified for Hoover, not finish above 500 this year? 

I know that Auburn pitching was hampered by an injury to Keegan Thompson, causing  Dillon Ortman to start Thursday’s game against LSU on four days rest and then having to come back and pitch again Saturday. And we could point to other reasons but the fact is it shouldn’t have come down to the last series of the year to begin with. There was just something puzzling about the whole season.

I don’t know what it was and I don’t presume to have the answers but I would hope that

Head Coach Sunny Golloway has them; and I hope he can fix whatever is wrong in his second season.

Don’t get me wrong, writting words like this is difficult for an unmitigated homer like myself. I don’t ever want to appear negative in my articles. Nevertheless I can’t turn my head to reality either.

And the reality is that when Coach Golloway arrived on The Plains he said he had inherited a team with talented upper classmen, several of whom should have already been drafted. In addition, he expected his new recruits to challenge for the league’s Freshman of the Year honors.“This is going to be a great situation,” Golloway said. “There are some outstanding athletes (here).”

From the start, he declared that his bunch had the talent to get to the College World Series, plastering it on the walls and placing it on the back of practice jerseys. Even after the dismissal of three veteran players early in the season, he said, ” We are going to Omaha this year. There is no doubt in my mind.”

Then came four straight SEC series losses including being swept by Ole Miss. What was particularly troubling about the slide was the skipper’s assertion, that there were more problems with the team he inherited than he had originally realized. Yet he still doggedly held on to his mantra that the Tigers were going to Omaha.

Now that his team has failed to finish above 500, there won’t even be a 100 mile trip to Hoover let alone a 900 mile trip to the big dance.

I can’t help but wonder if he had taken the “one game at a time” approach of Gus Malzahn and Clint Meyers would things be different. Could the boy’s expectations have been so built up that when things didn’t go right they became discouraged about reaching that big goal and it affected the team psyche?

I don’t know. However, now that there will be no Omaha trip, Coach ‘G’ says his first season (10-20 SEC) has laid the foundation for a brighter future for Auburn Baseball. As an Auburn fan, I have to hope he’s right. I have to hope he will get it done. In fact, I have to believe he will get it done. His past record says he will get it done and … when he does, I will be one of the first to say well done coach, well done.

But for now it’s painful for all of us to be watching the SEC Tournament from home, especially painful for our senior ball players.

They deserved better.


  1. mvhcpa says:

    Without being a college baseball or college coaching expert, what I think doesn’t mean a lot, but I never liked anything Coach Sunny has said from the beginning, including “We are going to Omaha.” In addition, tossing the players seemed like a move to gain control where there didn’t seem like a glaring lack of control.

    The dismissals had the insecurity of Coach Chizik written all over it–I’d rather have seen the Gus “continuous improvement is all we want” approach.

    Michael Val
    (who repeats that he doesn’t KNOW what he is talking about, but sure can FEEL it)

  2. uglyjoe says:

    Obviously the season did not go well, and Coach and Team did not meet the expectations they set or had set for them. Golloway took a risk with his prognostications and blunt (sometimes a little weird) talk and it backfired on him. It’s easy for me to say that he should have kept his mouth shut, but if he would have been more successful, I would probably be saying he did a great job.

    If the team wasn’t in rough shape, we wouldn’t have fired the coach last year. Golloway could have played his cards a little better in terms of public relations, but I can’t get too upset that this year wasn’t more successful. However, the honeymoon is now over and the clock is ticking.

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Golloway’s management style, and his baseball philosophy appeared to be radically different from the previous staff’s way of doing things. A difficult adjustment for players to make under any circumstance. It was a tough year for what I thought was a reasonably talented team. Certainly talented enough to make to the SEC Tourney. One offseason of workouts and philosophy adjustments should tell us which direction Coach G is going to take the AU baseball program.

  4. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    Not a Sunny Galloway fan. Nope, not at all.

  5. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    I have hoped I was wrong all season but I haven’t had a good feeling about this hire since he left Oklahoma and no one seemed to care that he was leaving.
    I don’t know what happened anymore than you ATM but I wonder if the way Golloway publically dismissed those players back in February didn’t have a negative impact on team chemistry. Like Ugly Joe above, I think he has shortened the honeymoon with his actions this year and next year better have big improvement.

  6. LSU Jonno says:

    This guy sucks. Hell, his own family hates him, much less the players he left behind at OU.

    Who the hell leaves a job at OU fresh off of making the Super Regionals to coach an Auburn team that had made the NCAA tournament maybe twice in the last 10 years? This thing didn’t add up to begin with and it sure wasn’t made any clearer this season.

  7. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    Don’t know what happened either and I also hate not seeing the team (esp. seniors) get into SEC Tournament. I think the future will be okay though with the players Golloway has coming back and a few good recruits.

  8. dabble says:

    we need to wait two years. at least we see him trying, as opposed to the lameness we have had the last few seasons in besbol.

    as for the not liking him, don’t care.
    as for those who say his is prick….well, it’s like a divorce. in two years we’ll know who was right and truthing..

  9. DBAU81 says:

    Golloway’s won-loss record indicates he knows how to coach a baseball team, so he deserves more time to fully implement his style of play, with his players, before we start passing any final judgments. Still, I will never understand why he openly predicted we’d get to Omaha this year when even those of us with only a limited knowledge of baseball could see that this was highly unlikely. This year will be ancient history if he gets the program turned around, but his public statements are puzzling to say the least.

  10. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    I can only say I heard the negative press from his hiring. I didn’t hold that against him.

    However, it didn’t take long for him to lose this team. How did he do that exactly? Well, in this case I think he exerted undue expectations on folks – they looked around and determined he didn’t have a firm grasp on reality. I know I did.

    Let’s use Tuberville as an example. You don’t promise something – then not deliver.

    The jury is out if he can recover. I think if Jacobs is smart… and considering he recently made the decisions of adding un-awarded national championships to a program that was doing just fine on its own merits so go figure that PR disaster… but if I had advice to offer it would be for him to use the Boy Scout motto: be prepared!


  11. NCTiger NCTiger says:

    Well, it seems like those seniors (and a junior) he booted off the team early in the season weren’t the problem.