With an incredible 2015 Mizzou Baseball season winding down toward its end, it's finally about time for a decision about Head Coach Tim Jamieson's future.
After 21 years at the helm of the Tigers, Tim Jamieson's contract expires at the end of this season. Speculation has been rampant throughout the season about what it would take to save his job. The first two years in the SEC were rough, but this season has seen a remarkable improvement.
Is it enough?
If Mike Alden were still the man to make the call, we might have a better idea of what's to come, based on his past behavior at MU. But as of late April. Alden is gone and the decision is now Mack Rhoades' to take, along with Tim Hickman, who has been Jamieson's direct supervisor for several years.
Rhoades said he's meeting with MU baseball coach Tim Jamieson the second week of May. "We'll talk about the program ... and his future."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 30, 2015
Perhaps we can help them out with a list of pluses and minuses.
Plus: Tim Jamieson gets a new contract.
Minus: Mack Rhoades begins searching for a new coach.
(+) The 2015 season
After two miserable season in the SEC, the 2015 Tigers finished 15-15 in the conference, winning 5 of their 10 SEC series, and earning a #7 seed in the SEC Tournament. By any measure, that's an impressive accomplishment after two straight miserable seasons in the SEC. It was an exciting SEC season for the team and its followers. The Tigers proved to the world that being competitive in the powerful SEC is not an impossible dream for Missouri.
At this point, Tim Jamieson's team is awaiting the NCAA Tournament Selection announcements on Monday to see if their season continues on to a Regional. Making the field of 64 - or not making it - could have a significant impact on ADMR's decision.
(-) The 2015 season
In spite of the great improvement in the SEC this season, the Tigers stumbled along in ways that have become too familiar for fans who have followed Tim Jamieson's teams over the past two decades.
The non-conference mid-week games were a fright, resulting in a 3-6 record. Sure, some of those teams had above average seasons (especially Illinois and Missouri State), but it can't be good that the #7 team in the SEC goes 3-6 in midweek games. That mid-week massacre was a huge factor in lowering the Tigers' RPI ranking below the level to make them a lock for the Regionals.
The season was like a roller coaster, lifting the hopes of the team and the fans to great heights, challenging for the lead in the East in April, only to run into the buzz saw of Vanderbilt and LSU, dropping quickly in the conference rankings. While Mizzou's record is certainly better than its first two years in the conference, the final numbers paint a picture of a team squarely in the middle: seventh out of 14, 15 regular season wins vs. 15 losses, winning 5 SEC series and losing 5 SEC series.
At this point Tim Jamieson and the team are waiting to hear whether their season will continue in the NCAA Regionals, or whether they're done for the year. Based on last week's bubble analysis by Baseball America, Mizzou's numbers don't add up to earn that invite. But stranger things have happened.
(+) Upward trending
Doesn't the 2015 season demonstrate improvement? After two years of struggling in the SEC, this team made their mark in a big way, surprising everyone. That achievement alone should earn Jamieson a contract extension.
The biggest problem with the "look at what TJ did this season" approach is the inconsistency of the past several seasons. Over the five years preceding 2015, the team compiled a record of 127-151. Even in the final Big 12 season, when the Tigers won the Big 12 Tournament, their regular season record was 28-26, just 12-14 in the Big 12. Without that tournament win, Mizzou would almost certainly not have received an invitation to the NCAA Regionals.
That's been the complaint all along. Even in the good years, even when Tim Jamieson managed to get his team into the Regionals, they were often barely making it in. Does a good season like 2015 outweigh those years of being just barely good enough?
(+) Pitcher U
Tim Jamieson has sent multiple top pitchers to the major leagues, with more possibly on the way: Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Matt Stites, Nick Tepesch, Justin James, Doug Mathis. Mizzou is still pulling in great pitching recruits, like Tanner Houck and Reggie McClain, in part because of that history of producing big league pitchers. As we've seen in 2015, having top pitchers is crucial to success in the SEC.
(-) Hitters' Frustration
On the other hand, numerous good hitting prospects have arrived at Mizzou over the past several years and found themselves mired in what has been a perennially moribund offense. This has been true throughout much of Jamieson's tenure, no matter who has come and gone as the hitting coach. There's something about the offensive approach being stamped on this team from above that can't seem to maintain a high level of productivity. The only #MizzouMade big league hitter is Ian Kinsler, who spent a single year under Tim Jamieson. As we've seen in 2015, an offense that ranks toward the bottom of the SEC is a drag on the overall success of the team.
(+) Tim Jamieson is a good coach
I've said it for years and have never doubted that Tim Jamieson is a good coach. He's a good man. He runs a clean program. He's experienced. He's produced many good high school, college, and professional baseball coaches from among his 21 squads.
If Mizzou is satisfied to have a good coach who runs a clean program and produces a middle-of-the-road semi-competitive team, Tim Jamieson is your man. Having shown he's adjusted somewhat to the SEC learning curve, I have no doubt he can return Mizzou Baseball to the level it was in the Big 12: generally finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack, occasionally rising higher, more occasionally dropping lower.
If that's what Mack Rhoades wants, he should keep Tim Jamieson around.
(-) But is a good coach what Mizzou, and Mack Rhoades, needs?
I doubt it's what the new AD wants.
All we have to go on are the few random quotes the press has gathered from the new AD.
#Mizzou AD Mack Rhoades in Springfield, Mo. "We want a championship program. In every facet of our department." pic.twitter.com/OnFAQKOipF— Mizzou Athletics (@MizzouAthletics) May 13, 2015
Rhoades is said to be a "baseball guy." I'm guessing he'd like to see MU Baseball consistently be in the top half of the SEC, perhaps occasionally slumping a bit lower, but being in a position to frequently rise toward the top, to be a "championship program." That's what programs like LSU, South Carolina, Florida, and other SEC leaders do.
If that sort of success is Rhoades' goal, he has to ask himself whether Tim Jamieson has shown an ability to consistently deliver that level of productivity in the 21 years at the helm of Mizzou Baseball. If not, Rhoades is probably better off bringing in a new coach who has what it takes to do great things with this program.
You and I can get out our calculators and add up all those factors to see what we would do. But it's not really up to us. And while people like Tim Hickman and perhaps former coach Gene McArtor will have some input on the decision, the future of Tim Jamieson and Mizzou Baseball is in the hands of Mack Rhoades.
What others are saying
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Former StL Cardinal Andy Benes on sending his son to Mizzou:
"We really wanted him to come to Columbia," Andy said. "We’re thrilled for him. He committed early. He knew all along it’s where he wanted to go. … We have a lot of faith and trust in Tim and his coaching staff. They’re a high integrity group of people. When you send your son off to college you’re entrusting him to the coaching staff and we’ve been very pleased to do that with Shane."
@KendallRogersD1 Jamieson may be out at Mizzou. He is a UNO alum.— Nathan Hurst (@burstahurst) May 18, 2015
@KendallRogersD1 last year of his contract, new AD at Mizzou started 2 weeks ago, probably no NCAAs for 5 of 6 years... We'll see.— Nathan Hurst (@burstahurst) May 18, 2015
@KendallRogersD1 Jamieson's contract is up this year. You think 1-2 tourneys since 2009 is enough for an extension with a new AD?— Chris Bennett (@chriswbennett) May 18, 2015
Alden: "It's taken longer for us to adjust in baseball maybe than any other sport. ... Tim (Jamieson) does a terrific job."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 14, 2015