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Rob Smith was named the head baseball coach at Ohio University on June 11, 2012. He is the ninth head coach in program history.
Smith comes to Athens following six years at Creighton where he served as the Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator. During his time, Smith helped the Blue Jays to a record of 213-133, three NCAA Regional appearances and three Missouri Valley Conference titles (2007, 2011 and 2012). Creighton has also won four NCAA Tournament games with Smith on the Blue Jays' staff, including two games this season, defeating San Diego and New Mexico.
"In our exhaustive national search, Rob Smith stood out as the very best candidate to lead our baseball program," said Ohio Director of Athletics Jim Schaus. "With the goal of building a consistently winning program, Rob offers a stellar track record of success. During his six years at baseball powerhouse Creighton, he played a critical role in leading the Bluejays to three conference championships in the highly rated Missouri Valley Conference, three trips to the NCAA tournament an four NCAA tournament wins."
In his first five seasons with the Bluejays, Smith coached five All-Americans, two freshman All-Americans, one MVC Pitcher of the Year, two MVC Newcomers of the Year and had five pitchers offered professional contracts with the most recent selection coming this season when Creighton junior Ty Blach was selected in the fifth round by the San Francisco Giants.
Blach's selection by the Giants was the highest a Creighton player had been drafted since 1999. In all, during his 10 year stint as a Division I pitching coach, Smith has developed 12 pitchers who have been drafted or offered professional contracts.
"He has had a dynamic impact at every stop during his 16-year coaching career," Schaus went on to say. "He has a renowned reputation in building a successful pitching staff, which has consistently led their conference and has regularly ranked in the top 20 in ERA nationally. Rob is also known for his recruiting prowess as well as his ability to develop players. He has tremendous energy and passion that is infectious. I am very excited about the next chapter of Ohio Baseball under his leadership."
Smith's staffs have twice led the MVC in pitching (2008, 2009) while ranking in the top 20 nationally in lowest ERA over his first five years.
At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Blach became the second Freshman All-America selection during Smith's four years with Creighton. Blach finished with a 3.11 ERA which, was good enough for third best in the league.
During the 2009 season, Creighton finished 13th in the nation in pitching while ranking first in the MVC. Smith also tutored freshman Brandon Koenigstein, who threw just the fourth no-hitter in Creighton history, and the first complete-game, no-no since 1971. The Creighton staff also led the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings and fewest walks allowed per nine innings.
In 2008, Creighton finished 14th in the nation in ERA for the second consecutive year, while finishing first in the MVC and second in the country for shutouts (8). The staff, led by All-American and 20th round draft pick Pat Venditte, also finished 16th in the nation for walks allowed per nine innings. Individually the Bluejays boasted the best pitcher in the MVC in terms of ERA as junior Mike Nihsen led the league in 2008 with a 2.30 mark in 70.1 innings. In addition, weekend starter Jeremy Hauer was named the MVC Newcomer of the Year as he anchored the Friday night starting spot for the Jays. At the conclusion of the 2008 season, Smith was named the Collegiate Baseball Teaching Professional of the Year.
In his first season as pitching coach in 2007 Smith made an immediate impact as the staff picked up 21 saves in relief to set a school record. Relievers Venditte, Andy Masten, and starter Ben Mancuso earned All-America honors following the season. The country's only known switch-pitcher, Venditte recorded a stretch of 43.2 scoreless innings, was named the MVP of the MVC Tournament, and set a school record for lowest ERA in a season. Mancuso had team-best 10 victories in 2007 and he recorded seven scoreless outings in 13 appearances on his way to being named MVC Pitcher of the Year. Masten was named the league's Newcomer of the Year after finishing with 16 saves to tie for second-most in the country. His 16 saves also set Creighton's school record and ranked third-most in MVC history for a season.
Smith also instructed freshman right-hander Casey Schmidt, who finished 6-1 and earned Freshman All-American accolades. Friday starter Marc Lewis was selected in the 20th round of the Major League draft after finishing with an 8-3 record. Lewis was joined by Venditte, Mancuso and Masten to give Creighton four pitchers on the All-MVC first team.
Smith came to Creighton after a successful five-year stint at Purdue University. Smith arrived at Purdue in the fall of 2001 and spent five seasons training the Boilermaker pitching staff. In his last season in West Lafayette, Purdue had its most wins since 2001 (31) and three pitchers were named all-conference. In addition, he helped lead Purdue to its third straight Big Ten Tournament berth which marked the first time in program history that had been accomplished.
Three members of his pitching staff were drafted, tying a school-record. In 2002, hurler Chadd Blasko was picked in the supplemental first round, 36th overall, making him Purdue's highest draftee since 1993.
Purdue's staff ERA dropped by more than 1.7 runs per game in Smith's five seasons, going from 5.95 in 2002 all the way down to 4.23 in 2006. The 2006 team ERA was Purdue's fourth-best staff mark since the introduction of aluminum bats in 1974. Purdue's 2005 league ERA of 3.29 was more than one full run better than any other staff in the Big Ten.
Under his guidance, the 2005 and 2006 Boilermaker staffs each had strikeout to walk ratios of 2-to-1, or better, for just the third and fourth times since 1974.
While working at Purdue, Smith spent two seasons as manager and general manager of the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League. In 2001 he guided the team to its first league championship, while also setting a franchise record with 37 wins. His teams also set club records for ERA both seasons. While in Wausau, Smith coached Creighton standouts Tom Oldham and Steve Grasley with the Woodchucks.
Smith's playing career started at Vincennes University in 1991 and finished at Indiana Southeast in 1994. He earned his college degree at Indiana University in 1998. Smith also served as a volunteer assistant coach at Purdue in 1999, where he worked with pitchers, catchers and recruiting.
He and his wife, RaeAnna, have three daughters (Sierra, Serena, Isabelle) and one son (Tyson).
Doug Schreiber, Purdue University - Head Coach "Rob Smith is an outstanding coach that will bring great energy and initiative to the Ohio University baseball program. Rob has played a major role in two successful college programs in Purdue and Creighton over the past eleven years and will continue to build upon the great tradition and foundation that has been established at Ohio."
Rick Heller, Indiana State - Head Coach "Rob is just an outstanding coach and he was a big part of Creighton's success over the past six years. I know myself and our staff at Indiana State have a lot of respect for him. He is a great person, he has a great family and he is a great teacher. Rob is someone who will really work hard and knows what it takes to be successful. Ohio University has made a great selection with their next head coach."
John Savage, UCLA - Head Coach On the Creighton program following the Los Angeles Regional on June 3, 2012 "This is the first time I've personally played them and UCLA has played them in a long time, and I just can't say enough about Creighton. First class. I've seen a lot of programs and how they go about things, from stretching to batting practice to infield and outfield to game, and I'm not just making this up. This is genuine. This is a first-class coaching staff. To be where they were and to run through the Missouri Valley to win the tournament and to play for a regional championship tells you that they never ever gave up on each other, and I'm just so impressed. I was going to say that win or lose. They made a huge impression on our program and really made our program better this weekend."
Pat Venditte, Former Creighton All-America Pitcher "I am so happy for Coach Smith. Nobody knows how hard he works and there is nobody, who wants it more than him. I met Coach Smith during my junior year while I was at Creighton and he just had a major impact on my career. He is very good when it comes to teaching to proper techniques. The way he goes about his daily routine makes it very easy to respect him."
Ty Blach, Former Creighton pitcher and Fifth Round Selection by the San Francisco Giants "Coach Smith was great to work with everyday. The way he interacted with the players was very professional. He is a real players coach and he pushed us to levels we didn't know we could get to."