Baseball: UL's Maggard - 'A great deal of confidence' in Robichaux
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 24, 2019
After Tony Robichaux ended his 25th year as head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team — and did so with a losing record, the program’s first since 2012 — Bryan Maggard was asked if he fully expected Robichaux to be back next season.
The UL athletic director used just one word for his answer, and he said it twice.
“Yes,” said Maggard, who plans to meet soon with Robichaux for a routine postseason breakdown. “Yes.”
Maggard was speaking late Thursday, the same day UL’s 2019 season ended at 28-31 with a loss to Troy at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Conway, South Carolina.
The Cajuns went into the tournament as the No. 8 seed after winning seven of their final nine regular-season games, taking series against Coastal Carolina, Georgia State and UL Monroe.
They won a play-in game against Appalachian State 6-2 on Tuesday night in Conway to get into the double-elimination portion of the tournament, then lost 6-5 to Georgia Southern in 13 innings Wednesday afternoon before falling 10-7 to Troy on Thursday morning.
With that, UL finished with its lowest win total since going 23-30 in 2012.
Although it won the regular season-ending series, its 25-game win streak over in-state rival UL Monroe ended this year.
It also failed to make an NCAA Regional for a third straight season — the first time that’s happened during Robichaux’s career as coach of the Cajuns.
“There’s nobody probably more disappointed in this season than Coach Robichaux,” Maggard said, “when you invest this much time, energy and effort into something that I know he and his staff and our student-athletes have.
“Those guys are competitors. They want to win on a high level. And I always tell people, ‘I can assure you that nobody is more frustrated than that group of individuals.’”
A small but vocal group of discontent fans, including some on social media, have called for the dismissal of Robichaux, a four-time Sun Belt Coach of the Year who has taken UL to 12 Regionals, four Super Regionals and the 2000 College World Series.
Others have questioned whether Robichaux is on the hot seat after two-and-a-half decades in charge.
And some have spoken at the gate, with actual attendance at The Tigue dropping substantially at the end of the year compared to a total of 5,591 announced for a season-opening game against then-nationally ranked Texas.
But Maggard, who came to UL from Missouri in 2017, remains a supporter.
“I know our fans are passionate, and they do get frustrated,” the UL athletic director said with reference to the losing season. “But it’s the coaches, staff and student-athletes that I know struggle the most with that.
“I do know this: I believe Tony Robichaux is the eighth-winningest active coach in America.”
He is, with an all-time record — including six seasons at McNeese State — of 1,178-767-2.
At UL, he’s now 912-589-2 — an average of more than 36 victories per season, and a winning percentage of .608.
“I have a great deal of confidence in him,” Maggard said, “and I look forward, as I do with every coach at the end of the season, (to) sitting down and evaluating and finding out what we need to do to get things back on the track that we all want them to be on.”