Rich Maloney, who was recently named the new Michigan baseball coach, has his hands full with the struggling Wolverine program. But leave it to the man who rejuvenated Ball State’s dreadful program to have a plan for rebuilding.
The plan is a two-pronged attack on what Maloney perceives as the two areas that need the most improvement. First and foremost, Maloney hopes to step up recruiting to bring in a higher level of talent for the Wolverines. Second, while this may break the hearts of loyal fans of The Fish, Maloney hopes to build a new baseball stadium.
“There’s no doubt that I’m going to be full throttle ahead to getting that new stadium built. I believe that is a huge priority,” Maloney said. “But our first priority is to the kids in the program. We need to recruit the best talent that we can.”
While the stadium is a priority, the main goal is to increase the talent level on the team, which finished eighth in the Big Ten (14-17 Big Ten, 21-32 overall).
“Right now, we need to get some better players in there,” Maloney said.
Maloney is no stranger to good recruiting. At Ball State, he recruited Bryan Bullington, the first overall selection in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft and Luke Hagerty, who was also taken in the first round this year. Maloney has been able to dispel the myth that the Midwest is not a good area for recruiting. His philosophy for recruiting is simple – start in Michigan then look outside the state.
“We are going to do our very best to take over the state of Michigan again,” Maloney said. “Then we will fill the rest of our needs nationally when necessary. But I think there is great talent in the Midwest to build a championship program.”
While Maloney was able to attract first-round draft picks to Ball State, he recognizes how hard it is to land such top talents. Many obstacles must be overcome in recruiting a first-round prospect, the least of which is other schools.
“Having first rounders is a difficult thing to do, and I feel very, very fortunate to have had four,” Maloney said. “Coaches can coach for 20 years and never have one. It is not easy to get kids like that because they are signed out of high school.”
The new stadium has a two-fold purpose – not only will it give the Wolverines a better place to play, but it will also serve as a useful recruiting tool. The improved facilities may help the coaching staff, which will be finalized later this week, attract recruits.
There was speculation that the stadium would be built near the Varsity Tennis Center, but the decision has not been made yet. While he doesn’t know where the new stadiums will be built, Maloney is sure that there needs to be a change of venue for both the baseball and softball teams.
“I’m for however the administration would like to have that done,” Maloney said. “If they want to keep it there, I’m all for that. If they want to move it I’m all for that. I just know that the baseball program and the softball program need new stadiums.”