UCLA to extend John Savage through 2025

After leading UCLA baseball to its first national championship, head coach John Savage will sign a new extension through 2025.

According to the Los Angeles Times, he turned down an offer from USC that topped $1 million per year. His latest UCLA contract extension, signed in December and extended to 2017, paid him over $300,000 per year including bonuses. Savage, who just finished his ninth season with the Bruins, had emphasized his desire to stay both before and after the College World Series.

The 48-year-old’s new agreement with the Bruins is pending approval by the University of California board of regents. The next scheduled board meeting is July 16-18.

Prior to a successful tenure at UCLA that includes three trips to Omaha in the past four years, Savage was the head coach at UC Irvine and the pitching coach at USC, where he won the 1998 national title under head coach Mike Gillespie.

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(Bi-)Weekly Q&A — 6/30/13 Answers

Q: We were the most penalized team in the NCAA (except maybe USC). Last year Mora said it wasn’t an area of primary importance. Will he change that this year, and make a concerted effort to reduce penalties.

I would hope so, but I don’t expect him to admit it. I think general improvements on the offensive line and in the secondary will also go toward reducing penalties without requiring particular emphasis.

Q: When will we find out Wanaah Bail’s eligibility for next season?

Since he enrolled at Texas Tech originally, he should need an NCAA waiver to play immediately. I’m guessing he’ll get it given the circumstances, but don’t know when that will be ruled.

Q: So what exactly is the status with Priest Willis and whether he has enrolled at UCLA yet?

He has not enrolled yet, but plans to leave Arizona for UCLA at the end of the month. Continue reading

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UCLA wins Capital One Cup, finishes third in Director’s Cup

Helped significantly by a baseball championship, UCLA men’s athletics secured its first-ever Capital One Cup yesterday.

Awarded annually to the top men’s and women’s Division I programs in the country, the prize comes with $200,000 worth of scholarships and will be presented at the ESPY Awards on July 17. The Bruin men scored 92 points to place ahead of Indiana and Texas A&M (88 points each), Florida (86) and Duke (82). The baseball title secured 60 points.

UCLA also placed third in the Director’s Cup, which Stanford won for the 19th consecutive season. The Bruins now have back-to-back third-place finishes, and have landed in the top-five in eight of the past 10 years.

Per his contract, athletic director Dan Guerrero will receive a $30,000 bonus for the Bruins’ top-10 placement in the Director’s Cup.

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First baseball title ends long wait for Bruin faithful


LOS ANGELES — Eric Karros stood in the middle of Jackie Robinson Stadium, just feet away from the national championship trophy. Once a player himself, the former Bruin and Dodger had waited years for this moment.

He gestured toward UCLA head coach John Savage, the man who had brought the Bruins to the mountaintop, guiding them through an undefeated postseason.

“I know a lot of schools will come courting, but gosh darn it, I hope you stay,” Karros said Thursday afternoon. The 800-some fans sitting in the stands likely thought the same.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that USC — which finished 20-36 — had interest in Savage, who won the 1998 title there as a pitching coach. Considering UCLA’s now-official powerhouse status, that’s somewhat akin to a teenage boy having interest in Kate Upton. Continue reading

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Notes: UCLA sets numerous marks in title run

» John Savage’s two championship teams finished with identical 49-17 records. He earned his first ring as a USC pitching coach in 1998, in a 21-14 victory over Arizona State that saw the teams combine for eight home runs.

“I looked at the record yesterday, and I had a good feeling we were going to end up with the same amount of wins, the same amount of losses,” Savage said after beating Mississippi State 8-0 Tuesday night, earning his first as UCLA’s head coach. “I knew the game wasn’t going to be 21-14, thank God.”

Sixty-two home runs were hit during the 1998 CWS. This year’s saw just three. His team is built as a polar opposite to those “Gorilla Ball” squads, one that squeezes in just enough offense to complement defense and pitching. The Bruins took the bumpier road and sped along untouched, downing No. 5 seed Fullerton, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 1 seed UNC through the postseason.

“I don’t think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way,” Savage said. “We played baseball.”

» UCLA’s pitchers combined for a 0.80 ERA in the College World Series, the lowest mark in the aluminum bat era (since 1974). The Bruins were also the first team to ever run through Omaha without allowing more than one run in any game.

The superlative defense, marked by the play of all-tournament shortstop Pat Valaika, helped hold opponents to 1-27 with runners in scoring position. Continue reading

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College World Series all-tournament team

Catcher: Brian Holberton, North Carolina
First base: Wes Rea, Mississippi State
Second base: Brett Pirtle, Mississippi State
Third base: Colin Moran, North Carolina
Shortstop: Pat Valaika, UCLA
Outfield: Michael Conforto, Oregon State
Outfield: Eric Filia, UCLA
Outfield: Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State
DH: Trey Porter, Mississippi State
Pitcher: Adam Plutko, UCLA
Pitcher: Nick Vander Tuig, UCLA

Most Outstanding Player: Adam Plutko UCLA

Votes were cast by the present media. Ballots were filed by the eighth inning of the final game.

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John Savage thanks family, late father, mentors

Shortly after John Savage raised his first championship trophy as a head coach, he thanked some of the many people who helped him along the way:

I couldn’t do it without my wife Lisa. She’s a coach’s wife. She grew up with Coach (Chris) Ault, who’s a Hall of Fame coach at the University of Nevada. My four kids. I spend a lot of time away from them. They know I’m dedicated to my job. I love them so much. This is for my dad, who passed away in August 2010. He didn’t see us win a national championship.

This is for Jack Gifford, who also passed away, who’s a UCLA famous alumni. This is for my dad, this is for Jack, this is for my entire family. …

I would never be here without Coach (Mike) Gillespie and Coach (Gary) Powers, who I started with at Nevada. I owe everything to them.

For more on Savage’s path to UCLA and an eventual national title, here’s my feature from earlier this month.

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John Savage, UCLA knock down championship doors


OMAHA, Neb. — Before the season started, the UCLA baseball team walked into one of the national championship rooms on campus and gazed up and down the walls: 108 NCAA titles, but none credited to them.

That changed Tuesday night, the Bruins capping a perfect run through the postseason with an 8-0 stomping of Mississippi State. There had been grumbles all week long about UCLA’s lack of hitting, myriad suggestions that the walls needed to move in or the bats fixed or the balls changed.

No more. The Bruins owned the night, one closed with a dogpile as fireworks lit up behind the left field bleachers. Players eight-clapped to the adoring fans that had traveled to Omaha for them, mugging for pictures as they stretched the celebrations out as long as possible.

“We’ve been close,” coach John Savage said. “We’ve been knocking on the door. We knocked on the door in ’10, we knocked on the door in ’12. We knocked it down in ’13.” Continue reading

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