Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SxSE: Coach David Perno's Bulldogs

♦ Recruiting footprint:  Based on recent recruiting classes, Perno tends to recruit heavily from Georgia, plus Tennessee, Virginia and random players from PA, FL and NC.

♦ Georgia's 2012 schedule included 37 home games out of 56 (66%), tying them with LSU for the most home games in the SEC.

Perno will return as baseball coach (macon.com, 5/24/12)
David Perno's boss has squelched any more speculation about his future as Georgia head baseball coach.

Perno will return to coach the team in 2013, athletics director Greg McGarity said on Thursday.

"Dave will be back next year," McGarity said, during a break from the UGA athletic board meetings at Lake Oconee.

Notably, McGarrity didn't even need to be asked directly whether Perno was coming back. The A.D. simply volunteered it after I asked him an open-ended question about his feelings on the baseball program.

"It's not even an issue. If you take SEC records over the last two years, and you give credit to South Carolina, Florida and Vandy, and do some research about where the rest of us are ... Over that two-year span we're one game over .500. Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, you've got a lot of schools that are right where we are as far as SEC standings.

Georgia hopes to rebuild as David Perno era begins (chronicle.augusta.com, 2/19/02)
In 1991, Athens native David Perno wrote a goal on a piece of paper and tucked it in his wallet: "To be the head baseball coach at Georgia by age 35."

Perno got his wish and even beat his goal by a year - but the team he inherits will be a mere shadow of last season's powerhouse.

The entire infield and most of the starting rotation are gone from the 2001 team, which won its first Southeastern Conference championship in 47 years and went to the College World Series for the first time since its 1990 national championship.

"I don't think you can expect us to do as much," said Perno, whose Bulldogs open the season Friday against North Carolina in the Savannah Shootout. "That's why we were picked 66th in the country. But I think you will see an exciting club."

Perno almost never got his chance.

A backup infielder on Georgia's 1990 championship team, Perno had been the Bulldogs' hitting coach since 1997. But when coaching legend Ron Polk resigned to return to Mississippi State after two seasons, athletic director Vince Dooley offered the job to more experienced coaches - Tulane's Rick Jones and Baylor's Steve Smith.

Both Jones and Smith turned down the offer, opening the door for Perno. Now that he has the job, Perno has to find ways to fill the holes created by departing players.
Perno's philosophy changes after pair of tragic injuries (onlineathens.com)

Although he can be blunt in his criticism of performance, Perno is an optimist at heart. He believes good results come from good habits and when anybody goes about business the correct way, rewards follow.
"We think the world of coach Perno," Todd Veazey said. "He is a very optimistic about things and very positive and very upbeat about things. I can't ever remember seeing him down. Now that might have just been his game face in front of us. But the fact that he's been so encouraging has meant everything for us because there were times when we really needed it."
. . .
David Perno, Mixed Emotions, and the NCAA Corvallis Regional (dawgsports.com, 6/1/11)
David Perno presents a special challenge for me, as I go back and forth about the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs’ oldest varsity sport to an extent I simply do not with other coaches. Where Coach Perno is concerned, I frequently find myself torn; I am conflicted about the Red and Black baseball skipper to an almost unprecedented degree.

Four years ago, I wondered whether Coach Perno was getting the job done with the Diamond Dogs; three years ago, I defended him as the right man for the job. When I suggested possible replacements for Brady Wiederhold as Georgia’s pitching coach, Coach Perno instead hired himself, and the result was that ugly trends on the mound were reversed: 61 games into the 2011 campaign, the Classic City Canines have posted a 4.99 team ERA, conceded a cumulative .293 batting average, and surrendered 342 runs. In last year’s 53-game season, the Bulldog staff collectively carded an 8.51 earned run average, allowed opposing batters to hit .333, and gave up 478 runs. This year’s Georgia team ERA is comparable to the 5.05 posted by the Red and Black in their 2008 run to the College World Series finals.
. . .
This year’s turnaround, in which the Red and Black overcame the country’s toughest schedule and a second straight season marred by a career-ending player injury, is emblematic of what has made the David Perno era so maddening. The spring was salvaged by back-to-back wins over top three teams in the SEC Tournament, but such a late resurgence was required only because of inexplicable losses to Furman, Kennesaw State, and Mercer. Coach Perno has been a part of the Bulldogs’ greatest successes, but he also presided over the worst season in school history.

The Case for Replacing David Perno as the Head Coach of the Georgia Bulldogs Baseball Team (dawgsports.com, 5.1.2012)
Three College World Series appearances in a five-year span offered some hope that Coach Perno’s program was on the rise, but those three 45-win seasons in 2004, 2006, and 2008 are offset by three years in which the Red and Black could not get out of the NCAA Regional (2002, 2009, and 2011), four in which the Classic City Canines did not make it into the 64-team field at all (2003, 2005, 2007, and 2010), and several spent either below .500 (23-33 in 2007 and 16-37 in 2010) or near it (32-29 in 2002, 29-26 in 2003, 30-25 in 2005, and 33-32 in 2011). Mark Richt has seven ten-win seasons and one losing campaign in eleven years, making it pretty clear which is the aberrational trend; Coach Perno has seven seasons out of ten without an NCAA Super Regional appearance, which suggests that trips to Omaha are the exception, rather than the rule.
. . .
As I noted before, I personally bear Coach Perno no ill will, but it appears that bad decisions are being made all over the place, from game-day management to assistant coach hiring and retention, from which players to pursue to which players to keep, and the Georgia baseball program is suffering the consequences. Players who ought to be on the Diamond Dogs’ roster right now would rather be playing for Armstrong State, High Point, and Valdosta State than for David Perno.

I’ve thought about that for more than a minute, and I am forced to conclude that the time has come to put a coach in charge of the oldest varsity sport at the nation’s oldest state-chartered university who at least is able to persuade promising prospects that Athens is a more attractive option than a junior college or a Division II school. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, does it?

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