|Jim Morris Profile|
National Coach of the Year Honors
It doesn't matter if his roster is full of rookies or veterans, University of Miami Head Coach Jim Morris continues to produce some of college baseball's most consistent and dominant teams heading into his 20th season in Coral Gables. With a talented staff around him, Morris' Hurricanes are continually the class of collegiate baseball, having won national titles in 1999 and 2001.
In his 20-season tenure at Miami, no other program, nor head coach, has qualified for the College World Series as much as Morris and his Hurricanes. Miami, which has qualified for the NCAA Tournament a NCAA-record 40 consecutive years, has made it to Omaha in 11 of Morris' 19 seasons in Coral Gables. Morris set an NCAA record for guiding a program to the CWS in each of his first six years at UM. In addition, Morris has won a 15 of 19 NCAA Regional appearances at UM, including a record 13-straight to start his tenure in Coral Gables. His teams have qualified for NCAA Regionals for the last 28 years - 19 at Miami and nine at Georgia Tech.
A three-time national coach of the year and 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, Morris has directed the Hurricanes to a 850-346-3 (.720) mark since arriving in 1994. Including his 12 seasons at Georgia Tech (1982-93), Morris has forged a 1,354-583-4 (.700) Division I record in 31 years as a head coach. Overall, Morris has been the head coach at the collegiate level for 34 seasons, spending the first four at DeKalb (Ga.) C.C. from 1976-79, and has recorded a 1,485-629-4 (.701) mark.
In addition to carrying on Miami's great baseball reputation in the last 19-plus years, Morris personally led the charge in the construction of Alex Rodriguez Park, and logged hundreds of hours raising funds for the stadium's renovation.
In 2010, not only did he lead UM to its 37th straight postseason appearance, but Morris reached a pair of impressive coaching milestones. In UM's season-opening 6-1 victory over Rutgers on Feb. 20, Morris recorded his 1,200th win as a Division I head coach. With that victory, he became just the 18th coach - and the second at UM along with legendary coach Ron Fraser - in the history of D I baseball to reach the 1,200-win mark. Just over a week after that landmark victory, he added another notable win to his resume when he picked up his 700th win at Miami with a 2-1 triumph at No. 12 Florida on Feb. 28. Morris closed out the 2009 season ranked fifth among active Division I coaches in career wins (1,237).
Following the 2009 campaign, then-University of Miami Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt announced that Morris signed a contract extension through 2015.
"We are extremely pleased to announce a contract extension for coach Morris," Hocutt said. "Jim has demonstrated that he is the best college baseball coach in the country. Even with the rich history of Hurricane baseball success, he has raised the bar even higher."
Morris has reached a number of other coaching milestones in his time in Coral Gables. His 1,000th Division-I game on April 4, 2004, at his old stomping grounds at Georgia Tech. He also achieved another milestone during the 2004 season, winning his 500th game at the helm of the Miami program. Morris' 500th win came just a few weeks following his 1,000th overall win as a Division-I head coach by beating Florida State 7-3 on April 17. His 600th win at Miami fittingly came in UM's 2006 Regional Opener against San Francisco on June 2, an 11-2 win that began the greatest run to the postseason in Miami's history. He is the second Hurricanes' head coach to win 500 games at Miami, joining Fraser, who won 1,271 games from 1963-1992 in Coral Gables.
The 2008 season saw the Hurricanes reach their 11th CWS and reach the 50-win plateau for the seventh time under Morris. The team finished with an overall record of 53-11 (.828), the highest winning percentage for a Miami team in 16 seasons. The Hurricanes, after going 43-8 overall and 23-5 in ACC play during the regular season, went on to win their first ACC title at the 2008 ACC Championship in Jacksonville. Miami would go on to host and win both the Coral Gables Regional (vs. Bethune-Cookman, Mississippi and Missouri) and the Coral Gables Super Regional (vs. Arizona) on its path to Omaha. Morris earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for his leadership in 2008 while eight Hurricanes were named to the All-ACC team, including left-hander Chris Hernandez, who was named ACC Freshman of the Year.
For the first time in school history, three Hurricanes were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2008. Junior first baseman Yonder Alonso (7th overall to the Cincinnati Reds), junior second baseman Jemile Weeks (12th overall to the Oakland Athletics) and junior right-handed pitcher Carlos Gutierrez (27th overall to the Minnesota Twins) were the first three of eight total `Canes taken in the 2008 draft.
The Hurricanes advanced to the NCAA record 35th consecutive NCAA Regional in 2007 with a berth in the NCAA Columbia (Mo.) Regional. It was Morris' 14th straight regional appearance at Miami. His Hurricanes finished 37-24 and 17-13 in a tough Atlantic Coast Conference, which was good enough for third in the ACC's Coastal Division. Two players - freshman lefty Eric Erickson and sophomore Yonder Alonso - earned first team and second team All-ACC honors respectively. Four UM players were drafted in the 2007 Major League Baseball Amateur draft, while a fifth signed as a free agent.
Affectionately known as "3" by those surrounding the UM program, Morris led the 2006 Hurricanes to their 34th-straight NCAA Tournament, 13th straight NCAA Regional title and their eighth-consecutive NCAA Super Regional appearance, all extensions of NCAA records already held by Miami. Morris' 2006 squad is the only one in the history of UM baseball to make to the College World Series by playing its entire postseason on the road. Eight student-athletes from Morris' 2006 squad signed pro contracts following the season, including MLB Draft compensatory first-round selection Chris Perez (42nd overall, St. Louis Cardinals). The 'Canes finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, arguably the best conference in college baseball after placing four teams in the 2006 College World Series.
The Hurricanes claimed the 2001 National Championship with a 12-1 victory over Stanford in the College World Series finale at Rosenblatt Stadium. The 11-run margin of victory over the Cardinal tied a 45-year-old CWS record for a championship game, while the Hurricanes' 12.3 runs per game set a new CWS mark. Miami had also defeated Tennessee twice, 21-13 and 12-6, and Southern California, 4-3, to advance to the title game.
Miami finished the 2001 season riding a NCAA-high 17-game win streak, including a nine-game sweep during the postseason. The Hurricanes claimed the Coral Gables Regional championship with wins over Bucknell, Florida and Stetson, followed by a two-game sweep of Clemson in the Coral Gables Super Regional. The Hurricanes' 53-12 overall record in 2001 marked the most in wins (53) and winning percentage (.815) under Morris. Miami also led the nation in stolen bases (228) and relief pitcher appearances (223). Morris also saw school record 11 players were drafted and two more signed to free agent contracts off his 2001 squad.
Collegiate Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association each honored Morris with its National Coach of the Year honors following his 2001 title to give him five such honors for his career. He additionally won top honors from Collegiate Baseball and the ABCA after the Hurricanes defeated Florida State, 6-5, for the 1999 National Championship. Morris' first National Coach of the Year honor came in his first season at Miami in 1994.
Morris has tasted success everywhere he has been, and he knew when he came to the University of Miami in the fall of 1993 that there was no better place for a winner to be than at the helm of the Hurricane program.
When he came to Miami, this is how Morris thought it would be. The Georgia Tech program he built in his 12 years in Atlanta took on a lot of the qualities that former UM coach Ron Fraser had been so successful with at Miami. Morris has kept both the prestige and winning at Mark Light Field, and has the old-time fans remembering the "good old days," when it seemed like almost every season under Fraser would end in Omaha. Morris first went to Fraser in 1982 when he was given the task of rebuilding the baseball program at Georgia Tech.
"Jim came to me wanting to learn. He not only wanted to know why we did the things we do at Miami, but how to do it in a first-class manner," recalled Fraser.
"In my opinion, Coach Fraser is the most influential head coach in the history of college baseball," commented Morris. "What he has done for this sport and at Miami is legendary. Coach Fraser has made an impact on so many young coaches throughout the years, including myself. He helped me tremendously before I came to Miami and still does to this day."
The Perfect Choice
"This is a great honor, I'm very excited," said Morris. "The University of Miami has a baseball program I've always respected. It is a program that I've always admired."
"I'm extremely pleased that we've been able to attract to the University of Miami one of the most outstanding collegiate baseball coaches in the country," explained Dee. "Jim's experience in a major metropolitan market with several professional teams was an important aspect of his background outside his outstanding coaching ability.
"Another important aspect of Jim's background is that he was able to have successful teams at a highly competitive academic institution."
Leaving Georgia Tech, which was the preseason No. 1 team in 1994, had to be tough, but the usually candid Morris put it in perspective.
"I'm going from the No. 1 team in the country, to the No. 1 program in the country," he said.
Welcome to Miami
Morris ended up playing two seasons in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. Though his playing days came to an early end, he quickly saw that he had a future in coaching. An assistant coaching stint at Appalachian State in 1975 set the groundwork. In 1976, he then accepted the challenge of building, from scratch, a baseball program at Atlanta's DeKalb Community College's South campus.
Building the Best
Carrying the Tradition
"Coach Fraser asked us if it was all right to rope off sections of foul territory down the lines. We said sure, and they were packed 10-feet deep in there. It was most incredible thing I've ever seen in college baseball. Fraser also asked us if we'd consider roping off the warning track, but we balked at that," added Morris. "I remember how exciting that game was and it was the first game I saw at the University of Miami. It was an outstanding day for me."
Miami defeated the Seminoles, 14-6, that night in front of 7,268 fans. It was a big night for the Hurricanes and one that Jim Morris would never forget.
A year later, Morris would accept a huge challenge in accepting the head coaching job at Georgia Tech. It was a reclamation project as the Yellow Jackets were on the backside of four straight losing seasons and were 4-23 in their first two seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
At Georgia Tech, Morris was the all-time leader in coaching victories, in any of the school's varsity sports, as he had 12 straight winning seasons, nine straight NCAA regional berths, four straight Atlantic Coast Conference titles (1985-88) and a school-record 51 wins in 1987.
In 1985 Morris was asked to be director of marketing and ticket sales by Dr. Homer Rice at Georgia Tech. Morris had put the Yellow Jackets' program on the map in baseball, and in the process raised money for lights and a new stadium. After one year, Morris decided it was impossible to do both and chose to focus his efforts completely on baseball even though he had great love for marketing and fundraising.
Major League Guidance
Among the players Morris coached at Miami that went on to play in the Major Leagues were Ryan Braun (Milwaukee), Pat Burrell (Tampa Bay), Alex Cora (New York Mets), Bobby Hill (San Diego), Aubrey Huff (Detroit), Chris Perez (Cleveland), Cesar Carrillo (San Diego), Brian Barton (St. Louis), Gaby Sanchez (Florida), Charlton Jimerson (Houston), Jay Tessmer (New York Yankees), and Danny Graves (Cincinnati) and Jason Michaels (Houston). Several more Hurricanes during the Morris tenure are right on the cusp of making the show, including Mike Rodriguez (Houston), David Gil (Cincinnati) and Jon Jay (St. Louis). Standout players under Morris from his days at Georgia Tech were Nomar Garciaparra (Los Angeles Dodgers), Jay Payton (Oakland A's) and Jason Varitek (Boston Red Sox).
Morris has also enjoyed success on the International scene. From 1989-90, Morris served as head coach of the USA Baseball team that won a Silver Medal in the 1989 Presidential Cup (Taiwan), Bronze Medal at the Goodwill Games and the 1990 International Baseball Association (IBA) World All-Star Game in Atlanta. At the Goodwill Games, his USA squad won two of three games against Cuba, marking the first time in history a senior-level team won a series with Cuba. In 1987, Morris served as pitching coach under Ron Fraser at the Pan American Games (Silver Medal).