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How Greene will evaluate softball program

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How Auburn athletic director Allen Greene will evaluate softball program

Updated Jun 12, 4:48 PM; Posted Jun 12, 4:48 PM

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By James Crepea

jcrepea@al.com

There are reasons for optimism for many of Auburn's top sports programs. Men's basketball won the SEC regular-season title and went to the NCAA Tournament, women's basketball had perhaps its best recruiting class in program history, baseball advanced to a Super Regional and football won the SEC West last season.

Softball is in a slightly different place after Mickey Dean's first season. Like all SEC teams Auburn made it to the NCAA Tournament, but it was not a Regional host and was eliminated in the opening round, snapping a streak of three straight years of at least making a Super Regional.

Auburn athletic director Allen Greene recently made long-term commitments to Bruce Pearl and Terri Williams-Flournoy. He's looking to do solidify the same with Butch Thompson and he inherited the contracts given to Gus Malzahn and Dean.

Greene said he understands the context under which Dean inherited the team and that will go into his evaluation of the program.

"Assessing softball is similar to assessing soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, the whole thing: You have to look at it in its totality," Greene said. "Certainly, understanding that coach Dean came in under a really unique set of circumstances that most coaches don't have to face.

"I appreciate the way that coach Dean doesn't make excuses, he doesn't want these young ladies to make excuses and he wants to get the best out of them and he's still learning these student-athletes. He and I will get together later this summer, talk about the full evaluation of the program and we'll do what we need to do to help make sure that we're competitive and we're providing a tremendous experience for our young women."

Part of evaluating the program will also be reviewing the state of Auburn's facilities, where Jane B. Moore Field is markedly behind nearly every other SEC softball stadium.

Auburn's board of trustees approved a $4 million player development facility, which will be built in right field by the fall of 2019, and previous plans called for additional upgrades and seating expansion over the next 2-3 years.

Multiple other SEC schools have invested enormous sums into renovating or building entirely new softball stadiums, including Missouri, Texas A&M and Florida, which has an $11 million renovation planned this offseason and just signed head coach Tim Walton to a 10-year contract.

In competing in that marketplace, Greene and his new team administrative team will be tasked with raising more funds for softball.

"I look at it in a couple of different ways: One is, it's positive that we are willing to invest, as a culture, in women's sports. I think that speaks volumes to helping our industry get to some gender equity," Greene said. "That in my opinion is a positive. What's the value of athletics to universities and what's their willingness to invest? Because we know that there is a return on investment with success and we know that the Southeastern Conference in particular takes great pride in having successful athletics departments."

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1 hour ago, BJCrawford said:

I hope they give the guy a chance. He certainly did not come into the best situation.

He inherited a really good situation IMO...team underachieved....would be good for AG to get some input from the players...

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1 hour ago, AU64 said:

He inherited a really good situation IMO...team underachieved....would be good for AG to get some input from the players...

No disrespect 64 but I would at best say he inherited maybe a decent talent situation but a really good one no way imo. Coming in when the previous season some of the players were about to revolt/not get on the team bus and the Corey crap and all the drama from the previous year could not have been a easy situation to come into. We shall see how it will work out and I am not sold that Dean is the answer but I really hope he is.

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The Cubbard was not bare when Coach Dean came in.  Most players were returning but we did lose some great team leaders, in Cooper, Wallace and yes even thuggish Fagan.  There were issues that began last season that could not be easily overcome.  Coach Dean is a complete flip from Coach Myers.  Losing a very good hitting coach late in the process did not help.  The girls had to adjust to three hitting coaches in less than a year.   There had to be a severe learning curve for players and for the new coaches.   Coach Dean made, IMO, some very questionable coaching decisions all season.  I am willing to give him the benefit of doubt and the benefit of the learning curve to see what we can do next season.  It won't be easy for him because he loses three strong leaders again and I don't see strong leaders behind them except maybe Veach and McCrackin.  I have confidence that Mr. Greene will do the due diligence and make the best decision for Auburn University and Auburn Softball.  

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4 hours ago, AU64 said:

He inherited a really good situation IMO...team underachieved....would be good for AG to get some input from the players...

are you on lots of drugs????

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2 hours ago, around4ever said:

The Cubbard was not bare when Coach Dean came in.  Most players were returning but we did lose some great team leaders, in Cooper, Wallace and yes even thuggish Fagan.  There were issues that began last season that could not be easily overcome.  Coach Dean is a complete flip from Coach Myers.  Losing a very good hitting coach late in the process did not help.  The girls had to adjust to three hitting coaches in less than a year.   There had to be a severe learning curve for players and for the new coaches.   Coach Dean made, IMO, some very questionable coaching decisions all season.  I am willing to give him the benefit of doubt and the benefit of the learning curve to see what we can do next season.  It won't be easy for him because he loses three strong leaders again and I don't see strong leaders behind them except maybe Veach and McCrackin.  I have confidence that Mr. Greene will do the due diligence and make the best decision for Auburn University and Auburn Softball.  

hell no, no, no, no, no.

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21 minutes ago, auburnphan said:

are you on lots of drugs????

Blood pressure meds that I need while watching AU sports.....but other than pitchers, few if any players made a year to year improvement one could expect.JMO.

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I’m not really sold on coach dean. I don’t follow the softball program as much so I may be completely off base but he just doesn’t strike me as a personable guy who can relate to the fans and most importantly players. Greene should give him another year or two but I won’t cry if he pulls the plug

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7 hours ago, au302 said:

I’m not really sold on coach dean. I don’t follow the softball program as much so I may be completely off base but he just doesn’t strike me as a personable guy who can relate to the fans and most importantly players. Greene should give him another year or two but I won’t cry if he pulls the plug

I hope I'm wrong, but Dean is appearing to me to be softball's version of Sonny Golloway. Not popular with players and parents, mediocre in recruiting and questionable decisions during games. He needs more than one year to get his system in place but so far I'm not impressed.

This year's troubles weren't just at the start of the season. Poor results due to poor play and poor coaching decisions remained a constant throughout the season with no sign of improvement or progress along a "learning curve" for either players or coaches.

We were 2-7 in our last nine SEC games, plus got eliminated in the NCAA tournament by Jax State. Dean inherited better than that.

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16 hours ago, augolf1716 said:

No disrespect 64 but I would at best say he inherited maybe a decent talent situation but a really good one no way imo. Coming in when the previous season some of the players were about to revolt/not get on the team bus and the Corey crap and all the drama from the previous year could not have been a easy situation to come into. We shall see how it will work out and I am not sold that Dean is the answer but I really hope he is.

I agree more with these thoughts than those who say Dean inherited a 'really' good situation. He did in pitching but in our offense? No way.

Look at the year before, at their SEC stats (forget the overall stats..all teams pad their avg against weaker pitching in OOC). We were already going down in our Avg and our RISP in 2016. Once we lost Cooper (our best player ever), Wallace, and Fagan, we lost a very experienced core of hitters. We HOPED that Veach, Draper, and others would pick up the slack, but they didn't. We seemed to have big hitters, but not good contact hitters who could give us base hits, doubles. etc.. Our avg in SEC play was terrible, and our RISP was even worse. If not for pitching, we might not have made the NCAAs. 

With part time players that moved into starting positions, and simply did not perform at a high level during SEC play, we  struggled at the end, and I wasn't surprised we couldn't make it out of regional.

Now, Dean is simply still an unknown. He needs to recruit well, and do a better job of field management. Will he get better? Who knows...but we will find out. I remember a lot of fans didn't think Butch Thompson was the answer after our first year...now...we were one run away from going to the CWS. So give Dean time..and we can reevaluate this next year.

p.s. Dean is NOTHING like Golloway in personality...so strange to compare that situation to this one. lol.

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Dean inherited a team with obvious trust issues after the Myers situation. I think that is the utmost reason he deserves some time.  

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