Tanner Has His Guy In Mark Kingston

New USC head baseball coach Mark Kingston has made it clear he accepts and embraces the expectations of USC baseball.

The former baseball coach turned administrator knew what he was looking for in his search for a new head coach in the Gamecock dugout.

USC athletics director Ray Tanner knew there was some faction of the fan base that would judge his baseball hire with a more skeptical eye than even his decision to bring in Will Muschamp to lead the football program. Tanner says he did not feel any added pressure to make the right hire because of his baseball background.

"I really didn't feel any extra pressure," Tanner said.

"I think if one thing, it was an advantage because I knew the circles very well. I know what this program stands for and the culture that is here, that is very important going forward. But I knew so many people in the industry it did give me some advantage as far as people I could reach out to."

In Kingston, Tanner and his staff have said he "checks all the boxes". While he has yet either Illinois State or South Florida to the Super Regionals, he did accomplish some major milestones at both programs. At Illinois State, Kingston set a single-season record with 39 wins in 2013. At South Florida, he led the Bulls to their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2002 and this past season, USF won 42 games, the first 40-win season since 1996.

But stepping into a program like USC means embracing the Omaha expectations.

"We know the fans' expectations, but we have the same," Kingston said.

"To me, we both want the same thing. We want to have great success. We want to get to Omaha, Nebraska. That's part of this program's history and we want it to be part of the future. So when the fans say they want us to get to Omaha, we share that. i can promise you that."

Tanner feels Kingston will be everything that fans are looking for in a head coach, even those fans who were hoping Tanner's search would end in Gainesville.

"We got the right guy," Tanner said.

Kingston knows this was an important hire by Tanner who is familiar with how to win national championships and Kingston says he is humbled that a coaching legend chose him to take over the program.

"To think with his contacts and the people he knows and his intuition to what's real and what's not, it's very humbling to think that he landed on my name," said Kingston.

"And then after we went through a very thorough process, he said 'this is the guy', it's very humbing and I take that responsibility very seriously to make sure he looks very smart."

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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