Until all the details surface surrounding the resignation of Pat Murphy as the head coach of the ASU baseball team, the fans of the Maroon and Gold are left swimming in a sea of questions.
Most importantly, what exactly is the “new direction” that ASU Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love said the program would be moving in?
Is it a program that will not compete for, and win, the Pac-10 championship on a yearly basis?
Is it a program that will not continue to recruit the crème de la crème of high-school talent?
Is it a program that can forget about booking a hotel room in Omaha before the season even starts?
This list goes on.
Love said the resignation was not directly linked to an ongoing investigation into alleged improprieties.
“It’s been a long, hard couple of years,” Love told The Arizona Republic . “Pat is where he is, and we’re where we are. It’s an amicable parting dictated by Pat.”
Murphy and Love have been known to have their spats over the years, but it is hard to decipher what would influence such a hasty and unexpected decision.
One thing is for certain: Finding a replacement for Murphy is going to be a considerably arduous process.
The gritty coach led his team to the last three Pac-10 titles, garnering the conference Coach of the Year accolade in each season.
Piling up wins became second nature to Murphy during his tenure as the Sun Devils’ head coach.
Under his leadership, ASU tallied 629 wins, against 289 losses and made four trips to the College World Series — three of which came in the last four seasons — in 16 years.
If major league clubs were ever looking for potential prospects, they never needed to search much further than Murphy’s dugouts.
Make no mistake: The Sun Devils cannot afford to have this program spiral into oblivion.
It was, and for the moment still is, the prized jewel of the university’s athletic department.
And now its guardian has vanished from Packard Stadium like a specter in the bleakness of night.
Saddest of all, the kids who bought into Murphy’s program — coming to Tempe was a not a difficult choice for many of them to make — are now left facing much tougher questions than the fans.
Australian left-handed sensation Josh Spence turned down a $200,000 signing bonus from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in hopes of returning to Omaha once more to bring home a title under the tutelage of Murphy.
It is likely the senior will be drafted high again next year, but the health of a pitcher’s arm is never a sure thing.
The student-athletes who got burned the worst, however, are the incoming freshmen, especially players like Mesa Desert Ridge High School standout Jake Barrett.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Barrett in the third round as well, and he would have likely signed a similar bonus as Spence.
Now Barrett will have to forego the draft until he is three years removed from high school and watch what could have been pass him by.
The fallout from this whole ordeal is not limited to just the players who were drafted.
Many young men are now without a leader. A teacher. An inspiration.
Reach Erik at firstname.lastname@example.org.