STEPPING UP — My Take: New conference, new coach, new era for ECU baseball

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It’s been a busy summer for East Carolina Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, who has spent the last two weeks transforming, restructuring and preparing the baseball program for its inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference.

The move offers a fresh start for a team that has underperformed in recent years. A proverbial changing of the guard and shift in organizational philosophy, Compher transferred power to a new head coach, Cliff Godwin, who subsequently addressed the assistant coach and director of baseball operations positions, all while retaining respected pitching coach Dan Roszel.

When Compher announced he would be replacing one Godwin with another, it prompted double takes and widespread confusion, but more factored into the AD’s decision than the last name. ECU is bringing a Pirate home. Godwin (the new one), a former ECU catcher from 1998-2001, is not only familiar with the program as a player, but also as a coach. As a former associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Central Florida, Godwin was forced to break down ECU’s pitching for the in-conference matchup, en route to producing one of the most powerful lineups in the league, while also manufacturing the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class at one point.

But the most impressive employer on his resume is the most recent one, recruiting coordinator and assistant coach of the Ole Miss’ Rebels, a team that finished first in the SEC western division with a 19-11 record and went on a deep College World Series run.

On paper, the move makes sense. Bringing an eastern N.C. native and ECU alumni with SEC recruiting and coaching experience to Greenville was the safest option Compher had on the table. However, it’s by no means an instant fix.

In the short term, Godwin is tasked with injected a winning mentality into the players already there, while taking a more long-term approach in his recruiting tactics.

Helping the new coach will be the other two pieces to the 2015 puzzle, Pete Busciano, director of baseball operations, and Jeff Palumbo, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, who worked alongside Godwin at UCF from 2009-2011. Busciano also spent time at UCF as a student manager.

The trifecta of recruiting-centered, baseball intellectuals, familiar with ECU through its days in the C-USA, has been handed a quality and traditionally commemorated baseball program to grow and reshape.

Compher is sending ECU into the AAC restocked, prepared and ready to compete. Whether the new staff makes an immediate or long-term impact, Pirate fans should be optimistic about the future of this team, gearing up for a new era of collegiate baseball in Greenville.