Bjork, Bianco Focused On Future Of Baseball Program

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Photo By Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Photo By Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

June 7, 2013

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. - The sun set on the 2013 Ole Miss baseball season Sunday at the NCAA Raleigh Regional, and it was an earlier exit than both Mike Bianco and Ross Bjork had hoped.

As head coach and athletics director, the two visited Thursday for their standard end-of-season meeting, and the goals and expectations for the program remain the same, which is to compete for and win championships.

Under Bianco, Ole Miss has posted 10 seasons with a .500 or better mark in conference play, which is tied with Florida for second-most in the SEC, behind only South Carolina with 13 such campaigns. The Rebels have been above the .500 mark in SEC play in eight of those 10 seasons.

"Mike Bianco runs an unbelievable program in all facets, from academics to compliance, to managing his budget, to being involved in the community and being competitive each year," Bjork said. "We have to give Coach a ton of credit for building on the foundation that was Ole Miss Baseball before he got here and then setting that bar extremely high.

"We know we haven't hit that standard recently, he knows that, our team knows that and our coaches know that. Most importantly, everyone in our program has our unconditional support to get us back to hosting an NCAA Regional, advancing to a Super Regional and eventually competing in a College World Series and bringing home a trophy. That's what we believe in with Coach Bianco."

Bjork said both he and Bianco understand how important baseball at Ole Miss has become over the last decade-plus, from the on-field success, to the $18 million renovation prior to the 2009 season, to attendance that has ranked in the top five nationally for eight straight years.

"What we said is we believe we can compete at the highest level in baseball," Bjork said. "We have the resources to do that. We have made the investment to do that, and we know we have to embrace those expectations of competing at the highest level.

"And so therefore, the last couple of years have been tougher than usual, and we haven't lived up to those high expectations. By being ultra-competitive, we still have a platform of a program that can excel at the highest level, even though we haven't recently matched the expectations. Our program is on solid ground as evidenced by the many accomplishments of Coach Bianco and the program he has created."

Ole Miss finished the 2013 season with a 38-24 record after advancing to the postseason for the 11th time in Bianco's 13-year tenure and 18th time in program history. Ole Miss is one of just 16 schools to advance to 11 NCAA Regionals during that span, which included a stretch of eight consecutive appearances from 2003-10.

Bianco will continue into his 14th year as the Rebels' head coach with the same employment contract as he had to begin the 2013 season, which is a two-year agreement with the same salary and terms. Looking forward, Bianco and Bjork are excited about the immediate future and firmly focused on reaching the high standards established during the Bianco era.

"We're not content," Bianco said. "We've had success, but we want to host a Regional, we want to host a Super Regional, we want to get to Omaha. That's always the goals of the program. And I thought we were very close this year.

"We were in that Regional host talk up until the last week, and we lost several close games the last few weeks that prevented us from hosting a Regional."

Bianco and Bjork agreed in Thursday's conversation that the players have got to take the pressure off.

"I think it's important," Bianco said of the players playing more loose. "And I appreciate Ross' confidence in the program, and his commitment helps. I think the players feel that there's support not only from the university, but also from the fan base. That kind of support lends itself to those kids believing in themselves and believing in one another."

Bjork said Rebel Baseball is bigger than just one season, adding that Bianco has built a great program, and now they have to close the gap between the foundation that they have laid and the goals and expectations.

"My charge moving ahead is to continue to embrace the expectations and also acknowledge that we can all do more to support Mike, our coaches, our student-athletes, and to all live up to those expectations," he said.

"And we have other examples that have happened this year in football and basketball where that's taken place, and baseball is the same thing. We're in it together, and we can reach those goals and aspirations. We all have to do better. We all have to invest at a higher level, and that's what we're committed to doing. Furthermore, our message of asking Rebel Nation to continue to pull the rope in the same direction will continue because of the love for this great University."

In the first day of the MLB First-Year Player Draft, no current Ole Miss player and only one signee -- left-hander Cody Reed from Northwest Mississippi CC -- was selected. Once the dust settles from the Draft, Bianco, the Rebels' all-time winningest coach, said he looks forward to the returning players and evaluating the incoming recruiting class in the fall.

"We're excited about the future," Bianco said. "Of course, we have got to get through the next couple of days in the draft, and that's always an obstacle. We have an outstanding recruiting class coming in, and an outstanding team returning from last year. We can't wait to get started again in August."

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 4

      Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 4 - ULL (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 1, The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 2 and The Season: Ole Miss... read more

    • Freeze Talks Open Date, SEC West

      Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' open date and return to action on Saturday, Sept. 27 against Memphis.Freeze's time on the call begins at the 1:50:18 mark. For the... read more

    • NASCAR's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Visits Ole Miss

      Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - Football

      NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., visited Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Olive Branch, Mississippi, native spoke to various student groups, including the football team. Stenhouse Jr. presented head coach Hugh Freeze with a firesuit, and Freeze presented him with an... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 8-14)

      Monday, September 15, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 8-14, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss captured the Magnolia Invitational this past weekend to improve to 10-0, its best start in school history.- The Rebels downed UAB and Mercer 3-0 and then defeated Jacksonville State 3-1... read more

    • Historic Start to the Football Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Football

      After a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, Ole Miss moved up four spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, released on Sunday.  Despite breaking into the top 10, the Rebels remain fifth among Southeastern Conference Western Division... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Sept. 14

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Athletics

      This is the third installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more

    • Three Rebels Net First Goals of the Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Soccer

      Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0... read more

    • Golson's Buy-In Pays Off

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson has come a long way since he was a freshman.  That season, he was most notably on the receiving end of a highlight reel juke from Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Three years later, as part... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-ULL Motivational

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs ULL Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-ULL

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as Ole Miss faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday. Wearing the Bull's-Eye After a 2-0 start with wins over Boise State and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll,... read more

    • Thompson Lifts Rebels to Historic Start

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Volleyball

      With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season. The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season,... read more

    • VIDEO: Return of The Grove

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Rebel Nation Remembers Stan Sandroni

      Thursday, September 11, 2014 - Football

      Rebel Nation goes into its home opener Saturday excited for the return of football at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but also saddened by the loss of one of its most renowned voices.Stan Sandroni, 64, passed away of a heart attack late Wednesday.... read more

    • Freeze Talks Schedule, Areas for Team to Improve

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' home opener Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.Freeze's time... read more

    • Former football player releases Chucky Mullins book

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Former Ole Miss football player Jody Hill has partnered with Square Books in Oxford to launch his book, "38: The Chucky Mullins Effect," celebrating the life and impact of his Ole Miss teammate Chucky Mullins. Hill will be signing copies... read more