Pat Murphy has never been one to back down from a challenge.
The former Arizona State head coach’s 15-year stint (1995-2009) produced four College World Series trips, four Pac-10 titles and a boatload of MLB players. It ended amidst controversy with his 2009 resignation and Sun Devil baseball under NCAA investigation.
Now Murphy is back in a big (league) way being named the interim manager of the San Diego Padres Tuesday. He takes over for Bud Black who was let go after failing to reach early expectations with an over-hauled, talented roster.
“Fascinating hire and really outside of the box,” ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat of San Diego’s decision Wednesday morning. “MLB clubs do not go to the college ranks and even though he’s been the Triple-A manager for them the last couple years, he’s still thought of as a college guy.”
Labels likely won’t phase the brutally honest, outspoken “Murph” much. He wasn’t always the most well-received guy in Tempe–marching to the beat of his own drum, even when it got him in trouble with the NCAA towards the end of his tenure with the Devils. Many believe the large target he placed on his own back eventually led to his demise.
But life is all about opportunity and new beginnings like Murphy received within the Padres’ organization, taking over their top minor league team first in, of all places, Tucson and most recently El Paso.
One hurdle he could run into with the Padres is his lack of big-league playing experience and being perceived as a “college guy” in a clubhouse filled with highly paid professionals.
“Murph may be one of the rare guys that can handle this,” Gomez explained. “It’s going to fascinating to watch. No doubt about that.”
Just another chapter.
Knowing Murphy he wouldn’t want it any other way.