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Baseball: Matt Deggs vows to carry Robichaux’s torch as new Cajuns baseball head coach

Kevin Foote, The Advocate, July 18, 2019

Click here for photo gallery of the presentation of Matt Deggs as the new Baseball Head Coach.

A heartbroken UL community still somehow trying to wrap its head around the sudden death of longtime Ragin’ Cajuns baseball coach Tony Robichaux was presented a development that made perfect sense Thursday with the announcement of Matt Deggs as the program’s new head coach.

Just 15 days after Robichaux’s death on July 3, UL director of athletics Bryan Maggard brought back the former Cajuns’ hitting coach after five seasons as Sam Houston State’s head coach.

"Only in Lafayette," Deggs said after being introduced to the public and members of the media. "What a testament to the power of love and redemption."

Deggs thanked UL baseball fans and the family of former UL coach Tony Robichaux, whom he called his mentor. 

"The Cajun Nation love pulled us out of Texas back over here," he said.

Deggs accumulated an overall record of  187-118 as head coach at Sam Houston, and 104-45 in conference play. The Bearkats won back-to-back Southland Conference titles in 2018 and 2019 one year after leading the program to its first super regional appearance in 2017. The Bearkats won the Lubbock Regional that year, before reaching the super regional at Florida State.

Prior to going to Sam Houston, Deggs served as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Ragin’ Cajuns. One year after UL hit .263 as a team in 2012, Deggs had the Cajuns’ offense ranked in the top five in eight offensive categories in 2013.

A year later, Deggs offensive arsenal spearheaded UL’s ascent to No. 1 nationally and the program’s first national seed into NCAA regional play. The Cajuns finished in the top 10 in 14 offensive categories, including an OPS of .902.

Deggs was signed to a five-year contract at $350,000 per year.  

He is replacing a legendary figure in Cajun Country in Robichaux, who had a career record of 1,177-773, including 914 wins at UL.

The Cajuns, though, are coming off a 28-31 season filled with injuries, not qualifying for NCAA regional play for the third straight season. And then suddenly were without their head coach of 25 years.

In addition to Robichaux, Deggs worked under Dave Van Horn at Arkansas and Rob Childress at Texas A&M. Deggs also coached at Northwestern State under Van Horn in 1996-97 and actually received his Master’s degree in Natchitoches.

Much like he did in Lafayette in 2013-14, Deggs helped Van Horn’s Razorback program improved dramatically in a hurry. Hitting .278 as a team prior to his arrival, Arkansas hit .303 in his final season there in 2005.

The 133 doubles Arkansas hit that season were the third most in the SEC and the seventh most in school history. The Razorbacks also stole 108 bases that season. In 2004, Arkansas returned to the College World Series.

He followed that stellar stretch with five seasons under Childress in College Station, Texas, taking part in three super regionals, five regionals and five Big 12 titles. While there, the Aggies broke a school record with 16 straight league wins, a Big 12 record with 151 stolen bases and in 2009 helped Texas A&M earn the program’s first No. 1 national ranking.

In all, his stay with the Aggies helped produce two Big 12 Players of the Year, nine All-Americans and 15 first-team All-Big 12 performers.

Deggs’ hitting system — described as a ‘pack mentality’ — typically produces an ultra-aggressive approach that supplies plenty of power, speed and applies constant pressure on opposing pitchers.

Prior to his major impact on the Division I level, Deggs was the head coach at Texarkana College for five years, leading that program to two league titles, two conference runner-up finishes and the program’s first trip to the NJCAA World Series.

In his playing days, Deggs was a player at both Alvin Junior College in 1991-92 and Northwood University from 1993-94.