John Savage took UCLA baseball further than anyone before him. The Bruins made sure he didn’t leave.
The two-time National Coach of the Year has often stated his desire to stay in Westwood. After winning the program’s first-ever title and turning down a reported million-dollar offer from USC, he is locked in until 2025 — his contract extension approved today by the UC Regents.
“I couldn’t be happier about their commitment, not only to me, but to the baseball program,” Savage said.
The 48-year-old coach, who just completed his ninth season, said improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium were a significant part of the negotiation.
Most pressing is the need for an adjoining half-infield laid with turf. The addition would allow the Bruins to practice on the surface without having to practice on the football team’s Spaulding Field.
Savage hopes construction will begin as soon as this summer. Other possible facility additions include a new clubhouse, press box, restrooms and concessions. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
» 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 →
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.