Tim Esmay finally gets keys to ASU’s baseball kingdom

What a surprise! Arizona State announced today it has removed the ‘interim’ tag from baseball coach Tim Esmay’s title.

Actually, this has to be considered one of the easiest decisions that Vice President for University Athletics Lisa Love has had to make during her five years in Tempe.  The only part of it that might be considered surprising is that she didn’t wait until the season was over.

Like they say, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Love, who fired Pat Murphy last November amid an investigation into NCAA violations, said she hoped making the move now would enable the baseball team to focus on getting back to the College World Series.

Esmay’s team is 47-8 this season, started the year with a school-record 24 straight wins, won the Pac-10 conference, earned the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament this week, and is ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?

Also… he’s a local product.  He graduated from Horizon High School in Scottsdale, played for Scottsdale Community College, and then two more years at ASU.  He also coached a couple of years at Brophy Prep in Phoenix and was an assistant on the coaching staff at Grand Canyon University in 1995.

And… he’s not only an alum at ASU, but he has a link to the storied past of the program.  He played ball under the legendary Jim Brock in 1986 and ’87.  He was an infielder at ASU and hit .305 over his two years and was a member of the Devils’ 1987 College World Series team.

And then… he also coached at ASU.  He was an assistant coach under Brock from 1988 to 1990, and then returned again in 2005 to join Pat Murphy’s staff and has spent five years as an assistant coach, three of them as the Assistant Head Coach.  He’s in his 10th season at the school, as both player and coach.

Oh yeah, his mom and dad graduated from ASU.  So did his brother and his wife.  And his wife’s mother.   The family bleeds maroon and gold.

And don’t forget… he’s a winner.  Before coming to ASU, Esmay spent eight years as the head coach at Utah, where he accomplished what no other coach at that school had been able to do in 32 years – he won a Western Athletic Conference title.  His teams set nine school records while he was there.

Not to mention… the players like playing for him.  As they say, he’s a player’s coach.  In an article in Yahoo! Sports earlier in the season, veteran ASU player Kole Calhoun said, “I thought he was going to do a great job from the beginning.  He played here, he coached here under two different great coaches, and he knows how we do things around here.

“It’s just great to help him get a long-term job.”

And that’s just what this year’s team did.  They helped their boss earn a job he has always considered a ‘dream job.’

But it was almost a dream that didn’t happen.

Esmay was actually let go by Murphy after the 2009 season.  But then Murphy was let go last November and Esmay was brought back.

ASU officials knew it would take time for a national search to find a permanent replacement for Murphy, who had been running the program with unparalleled success for 15 years.  So they looked for someone who would take over for this season and give them time to make a calmer, more considered decision.

Even though Esmay had been the assistant head coach for several years, he wasn’t considered the across-the-board choice.  Because he had been dismissed by Murphy, his name wasn’t foremost on most people’s minds.

But Love made the call and brought Esmay in from the bullpen.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

And Love has made the right call again.  Esmay has earned his dream job.