Nevada’s Jay Johnson hired as Arizona Wildcats’ baseball coach


FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!

Nevada's Jay Johnson is reportedly Arizona's next baseball coach (YouTube screen shot)

Nevada’s Jay Johnson is reportedly Arizona’s next baseball coach (YouTube screen shot)


Arizona Wildcats athletics director Greg Byrne has made his ninth hire in his five years at the school, bringing in Jay Johnson on Sunday as the new head baseball coach.

College Baseball Daily broke the news that Johnson was leaving Nevada for Arizona, replacing Andy Lopez, who retired two weeks ago after 14 years with the program. Byrne made it official by Tweeting a picture with Johnson announcing the hire.

Johnson, only 38, is coming off a 41-15 overall record and 23-7 mark in the Mountain West Conference this season. His record in two years as the Nevada’s coach was 72-42, including a 38-22 record in the Mountain West.

The year before Johnson’s hire at Nevada the Wolfpack finished 25-32 overall and 11-19 in the Mountain West.

Johnson’s name was not prominently mentioned as a candidate for the Arizona Wildcats’ vacancy. Other higher-profile names were mentioned such as Cal Santa Barbara’s Andrew Checketts and Pepperdine’s Steve Rodriguez.

Hiring Johnson, a proven recruiter, motivator and developer of young talent, could be considered a money-saving move by Byrne. College baseball is not a revenue producer at Arizona and Byrne must hire accordingly.

Johnson had a base salary of $117,000 at Nevada. Lopez’s salary with the Arizona Wildcats was $370,000.

When Johnson was hired at Nevada two years ago after an eight-year stint at the University of San Diego as the associate head coach, he was quoted as saying by the Reno Gazette-Journal:

“I want people to say, ‘That’s what a baseball team looks like, in terms of toughness, extreme hustle, relentless enthusiasm, playing with energy and ultimately being a program that will help move guys on to the next level.’ If we do that and establish a good, sound team culture, I think the results will be a byproduct of that.”

Expect a same message for Arizona during Johnson’s introductory press conference Monday.

Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
HFLBookCover


“I want people to say, ‘That’s what a baseball team looks like, in terms of toughness, extreme hustle, relentless enthusiasm, playing with energy and ultimately being a program that will help move guys on to the next level.’ If we do that and establish a good, sound team culture, I think the results will be a byproduct of that.”
— Jay Johnson, Arizona’s new baseball coach upon his hire at Nevada two years ago

While at San Diego, Johnson helped the Toreros make six trips to NCAA postseason (2006-08, 2010, 2012-13) and capture four West Coast Conference titles in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013. He coached the 2013 Dick Howser Award winner which honors the college baseball player of the year in third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant, a native of Las Vegas, was the number two selection in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.

Johnson served as USD’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped recruit USD’s 2008 class, which was ranked number one in the nation by Baseball America. The Toreros’ 2010 recruiting class was ranked second in the nation. In six of his eight seasons there, the Toreros ranked first in the WCC in overall team hitting.

Johnson is the son of a longtime high school baseball coach. According the Gazette-Journal story, he and his father met with Lou Holtz (then coach of Notre Dame) to go over building relationships with players as a head. The younger Johnson told his father since he was 5 that he wanted to be a baseball coach.

Looks like he will get a chance to continue that dream at Arizona starting next spring.


GREG BYRNE’S HIRES

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Sport Coach Date Age Note
Baseball John Cohen 6/6/2008 41 CWS runner-up 2013
Football Dan Mullen 12/10/2008 36 10-3 in 2014 with trip to Orange Bowl
Women's Golf Ginger Brown-Lemm 3/25/2010 42 Advanced to NCAA championships in 2013 and 2014

ARIZONA

Sport Coach Date Age Note
Baseball Jay Johnson 6/7/2015 38 72-42 in first two years as head coach at Nevada
Football Rich Rodriguez 11/22/2011 48 10-4 in 2014 with trip to Fiesta Bowl
Men's Golf Jim Anderson 6/21/2012 32 Coached Arizona to NCAA regional in 2013
Women's Golf Laura Ianello 5/26/2010 30 Three NCAA championship berths including this season
Gymnastics Tabitha Yim 5/10/2015 29 Former elite gymnast and Stanford assistant
Sand Volleyball Steve Walker 1/8/2013 39 18-3 finish this season
Swimming and Diving Eric Hansen 4/12/2011 45 Resigned after leave of absence in October 2013
Swimming and Diving Rick DeMont 2/4/2014 57 Men 13th and Women 15th in NCAAs this year
Soccer Tony Amato 12/5/2012 34 Advanced to 2nd round of NCAA tournament in 2014


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

Share this post