He's a son of Athens. He was on the 1990 NCAA Championship team. He's gotten us to the College World Series, including within a breath of winning it all. But there's only so far even that résumé will carry you.
Good teams that take the extra step to greatness are the ones that find a way to win. Perno's teams find too many ways to lose. The pitching was better, even though they lost a young arm out of the bullpen in Tyler Maloof. The 2010-11 team ERA was 4.90. This season it was 3.86. However, that's still well off the pace of the SEC's elite teams such as eastern division stalwart Carolina which had a 2012 ERA of 3.16, and a 2.45 in 2011.
And the hitting...ol' Coach Umstattd's spits on our slumping batting figures. It hasn't gotten any better since Allen Osborne was brought onboard. In 2011 the team average was .274 and the slugging % was .383. This season, .279 and .371 respectively. Compared again to our rival who sits where we want to be: in 2011 the Gamecocks had a .294 avg and .427 slugging %. In 2012 Coach Tanner's squad relied even more heavily on their pitching (you go pretty deep into their bullpen before you get to a kid that has an ERA greater than 4.00, and as a team their opponents batted just .225) and had a .271 team batting average and .399 slugging %.
Ugh. We're not competing statistically and we're not competing on the field. The two tourney games this week against Vanderbilt and Auburn were perfect examples of the seasons we've come to expect. When the pitching staff gets it done on the mound, the bats fail to make the noise. Ask yourself if this rings a bell? First batter strikes out and the second batter dribbles one to the shortstop, the third batter crushes one to the alley only to be left stranded when the fourth batter pops it up to shallow left.
Rinse and repeat again in 3 innings.
Which brings me to another point, and this is something we've touched on with other coaches in Butts-Mehre as well. I don't mind coaches calling players out. They're the ones that either do or they don't. I'll always applaud accountability and the truth is these aren't little boys just beginning to learn the game. However, there comes a time when the coaches should bear the brunt of the responsibility. It should sound more like "I'm not getting it done" instead of "we're not getting it done".
That time has past us by. I've become convinced that Coach Perno's legacy will be cast on two lasting memories: 1) getting within a game of being a national champion, and 2) getting the UGA baseball program through not one but two horrific spinal injuries with Chance Veazey's accident and Jonathan Taylor's outfield collision. Words can't do the man justice for what he and his staff did to keep those teams from falling completely apart. For the former, we'll always have a knot in our stomach. For the latter, we'll be eternally grateful.
Come Monday we'll find out officially that the 2012 season is done. As a UGA alum, a frequent Foley patron and a 30+ year fan of the program...