Baseball: Ragin' Cajuns fans applaud hiring of new baseball coach Matt Deggs
Eric Narcisse, The Advertiser, July 22, 2019
Fans of the Ragin' Cajuns baseball program may not have known exactly who they wanted to succeed Tony Robichaux as head coach, but they knew whom they didn't want.
Someone unfamiliar with the Cajun culture.
"We couldn't go out and get an outsider," Lafayette resident and Cajuns supporter Marla Trahan said. "We couldn't have gotten someone who didn't know coach Robe personally or the Cajun culture."
"UL and the Lafayette community is so unique that we don't view our coaches as coaches," Scott resident and Cajuns supporter Kohl Guilbeau said. "We view our coaches as community leaders. We want to win, but we're not as much worried about the win-loss record as we are about what type of men we are grooming. It's what makes this community so unique. We are willing to overlook the wins and losses as long as the head coach is guy who has our university and community's best interest at heart."
Press conference to announce Matt Deggs, most recently head coach at Sam Houston State, will take over as the Cajuns head baseball coach. Deggs will replace the late Tony Robichaux, who died July 3, 10 days after suffering a heart attack.Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
When news broke late Wednesday night that the Cajuns had tabbed Sam Houston State's Matt Deggs, a former UL assistant coach, as Robichaux's successor, it came as no surprise the decision was met with great applause.
"Under the circumstances, hiring Matt Deggs is a home run," Cajuns supporter Garland "Chico" Rodriguez said. "He is the only current head coach in America who could take over for Robe. Deggs was the No. 1 choice for a lot of people."
"I definitely, 100 percent love the hire," said Trahan, who is a member of the Cajun Cooking Club. "He's the person who can come in and be accepted. He gets it."
Trahan, Rodriguez and Guilbeau agree Robichaux would greatly approve of the hire.
"One thing that has been said is that you don't want to be the guy to follow the guy," Rodriguez said. "You want to be the guy to follow the guy that followed the guy. The only guy to be able to follow the guy is Matt Deggs. This was meant to be and coach Robe would approve of this hire."
Asked what they liked most about Deggs being hired, Rodriguez and Trahan cited his ability to overcome trials and tribulations. Deggs was fired prior to the 2011 season due to his battle with alcoholism, which led to him being out of baseball for more than a year until Robichaux gave him a second chance.
"Coach Robe gave him a second chance and he proved himself," Trahan said. "He always says that Coach Robe saved his life — not his baseball career, but his life. He has turned his life around. His experience with struggles make him a real-life example to the young men he'll be coaching. He gets it — that it is not just a game and it is truly about molding these guys into men. I feel like he is the perfect fit to carry on Robe's message."
"I feel like he and Coach Robe share the same core values," Rodriguez said. "I don't feel like there was a better choice. He and Robe have the same mentality and philosophy. There are a lot of great coaches out there who can run a program, but Deggs was perfect for this program."
Although they are thrilled about having Deggs, the fans are adamant he wasn't coming in to replace Robe.
"No one will be able to come in and ever replace Robe," Trahan said. "Ever. That won't ever be done. He's not here to fill Robe's shoes. He's here to take Robe's legacy and make it better. Deggs will embrace the program and continue to instill Robe's values in the players he coaches."
"We don't need him to be the next Robe," Guilbeau said. "There won't be another Robe. We need for him to come in and have the same vision as Robe."
Eric Narcisse covers high school sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @eric_narcisse.