My official statement on this hiring: MEH.
Mark Kingston will be announced at a press conference shortly, and Ray Tanner will sing his praises and call him a great recruiter and motivator. Kingston will give a fiery speech and “win” the press conference, and we’ll all feel a little bit better about not getting Kevin O’Sullivan or Brian O’Connor or even Monte Lee. All those things will happen, guaranteed.
But those things won’t completely cover up the disappointment. The disappointment of Tanner once again missing on his first, second, and maybe even third choices. The disappointment of getting a guy the vast majority of us had never even heard of before two weeks ago.
Think back to everyone’s list of replacements the day after Chad Holbrook was fire…er…resigned. There were at least a dozen names tossed around. Coaches who’ve won conference titles, regionals, super regionals, and College World Series titles. NAME coaches. Coaches who media and fans alike felt like a program like South Carolina wanted and deserved. Look at the words of Ray Tanner himself:
“I believe very strongly that our job here is a top three or top five job in the country so we’ve attracted a lot of really good candidates.”
With all due respect, a top three or top five job in the country shouldn’t be hiring Mark Kingston from South Florida. That’s not a knock on Kingston’s coaching ability and it doesn’t mean I won’t get 100% behind him as he tries to get us back to Omaha. That’s a knock on one of the great Gamecocks of all time, Ray Tanner.
It’s beyond obvious this wasn’t his first choice. If Tanner wanted Kingston from the beginning, he could have had him 30 minutes after the Holbrook resignation press conference. But Tanner had bigger fish in his sight. Fish that were playing well into the postseason, and one fish in particular that won a national championship. But in the end he couldn’t land that fish, and once again we’ve had to settle.
I’m going to be all in on Mark Kingston, as all Gamecocks should be. I’m going to pull for him like crazy, and I hope he succeeds will beyond our wildest dreams. But given the high hopes I had going into this search, it’s going to take me a little time to get used to the idea.
I’m also going to cross my fingers that he doesn’t block us on Twitter.