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Esmay takes over as interim baseball coach

Tim Esmay was named interim head coach of the ASU baseball team for the 2010 season on Thursday.

Esmay, an assistant head coach under now-resigned Pat Murphy the previous three seasons, was also a player for former coach Jim Brock in 1986 and 1987.

“This is not a resume job,” Esmay said. “This is last-stop Texaco.”

The announcement of the hiring of Esmay, who was not set to return as a member of the ASU staff in 2010, was a move for continuity.

“We wanted to be led by Coach Murphy, but at the same time, Esmay coming in, he knows what needs to be done,” ASU senior pitcher Josh Spence said. “He knows the program, and he knows the players better than anyone else that could have come in.”

According to the four players at Thursday’s press conference, the team requested a meeting with Vice President of Unversity Athletics Lisa Love and University President Michael Crow.

On Wednesday, players met with both Love and Crow and were reassured someone familiar with the program would lead the team this season.

“It was about the direction of the program, as far as we were kind of left in the dark as far as not knowing if they were trying to destroy the program or whatever,” junior outfielder and pitcher Matt Newman said. “We went into the meeting, and they reassured us that ASU baseball is a premier focus for ASU athletics.”

Love also met with Esmay on Wednesday, and Esmay said he was offered the job that night.

The players said they used the “life lessons” taught by Murphy to get through the two-week period without a coach.

“It’s something we all learned the last two weeks: ‘Where do we go from here?’” senior outfielder Kole Calhoun said. “How do we put aside the anger and displeasure of whatever happened to Murphy and do something positive for the program and play the season to the fullest?”

Calhoun acknowledged his decision to play for ASU was influenced by Murphy.

While Calhoun said the leadership of the veteran players had kept the team together during the time between Murphy’s resignation and Esmay’s hiring, Spence indicated the team would be moving forward regardless of the situation, and any potential stragglers would have a decision to make.

“With adversity comes strength, and it’s not a choice,” Spence said.

“You have to want to play, and as far as I’m concerned, if they don’t want to put on the uniform, they can go somewhere else and play. The thing about our team is that we’ve built a great foundation, we’ve got a great group of players and we have just enough to win.”

Esmay, who hadn’t been around the team during fall practices, said he was offered a job with the Colorado Rockies as a scout on Sunday before meeting with Love.

He said he was advised by Rockies’ scouting director Bill Schmidt, who was on ASU’s coaching staff while Esmay was a player, to take the job with the Sun Devils.

“[Schmidt] said, ‘Are you kidding me? That is a great opportunity,’” Esmay said. “[Schmidt said] ‘Everyone knows that is an opportunity you have to take.’”

Esmay said that school loyalty played a significant role in his decision to take over.

“Obviously, I’ve been born and raised [around] ASU, ever since I was a little kid,” said Esmay, who grew up in Scottsdale. “This means a tremendous amount to me. This is home. I’m a Sun Devil, and that’s one of the big reasons why it’s been great to come back. When someone like Lisa Love calls and says ‘We need this to happen,’ you come and do it, because that’s what you do when you’re a Sun Devil. You come and help this place out.”

Esmay said that assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Travis Jewett, who was hired the past year, would remain in his role. He also said that he’s in the process of making sure Ken Knutson, who was the head coach at Washington last year and hired this year by ASU, would remain on the staff.

Esmay was the head coach at Utah from 1997 to 2004 and won two WAC titles. He was the WAC coach of the year in 1997.

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