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End of an Era: DeBriyn retires
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Razorback baseball coach Norm DeBriyn officially retired as head baseball coach today. DeBriyn will continue, however, to serve in the athletic department and work closely with baseball operations.

DeBriyn leaves after a 33 year stint at Arkansas. He will be sorely missed.
Legendary UA Baseball Coach Norm DeBriyn Steps Down after 33 Seasons

UA Sports Information- Tuesday, June 11, 2002 ---
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After 33 years serving as head coach of the University of Arkansas baseball program Norm DeBriyn stepped down from his coaching responsibilities Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles announced Tuesday.

"Norm is the consummate coach, friend and associate," Broyles said. "Every athletic director would like to have a coach that possesses these qualities. He has led the Razorback program with an emphasis on academics and integrity. His coaching record speaks for itself. But, perhaps his greatest contribution has been the lasting relationships with his players and coaches that have bonded them not only to their coach, but to the University of Arkansas."

In a career that spanned four decades, DeBriyn took over as head coach of Razorback baseball in 1970 at the age of 28. DeBriyn guided the Razorbacks to two Southwest Conference titles, one Southeastern Conference title, one SEC Western Division title, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NCAA College World Series appearances.

The Razorbacks had their best national finish is school history under DeBriyn in 1979 as they finished runner-up in the College World Series.

DeBriyn ranks 14th all-time in career wins among NCAA Division I head coaches with a record of 1,161-648-6 and a career winning percentage of .641.

DeBriyn's 33-year tenure at the University of Arkansas ranks second among current UA athletics employees, trailing only Broyles who is in his 45th year with Razorback athletics.

A native of Ashland, Wis., DeBriyn led the 2002 Razorbacks to a 35-28 record and the team's first-ever NCAA Super Regional.

In 33 years with Razorback baseball, DeBriyn coached 19 All-America selections, six Freshman All-Americans, 58 All-Conference selections and 48 All-Conference Tournament selections.

DeBriyn was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1999 and earned SWC Coach of the Year in 1978, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1989 and 1990. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Razorback Hall of Honor in 1991.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a B.S. in history in 1963, DeBriyn and his wife, Caroline, have been married 31 years. They have two sons, Todd and Marty, and one daughter, Carrie Jo.


Former Auburn Head Coach Hal Baird:

“It was always a privilege for our teams to compete against the great Arkansas teams under Coach DeBriyn. His championships in the Southwest Conference and Southeastern Conference, as well as his overall record, speaks for itself, but what set Norm apart was the class and dignity in which he and his Arkansas teams represented the University of Arkansas and the state of Arkansas. It is a model that all young coaches would do well to follow.”

Oklahoma Head Coach Larry Cochell:
"I've known Norm since 1970 when I was coaching at Creighton and he brought his Arkansas club up to play us in Rosenblatt Stadium that year and we've been close friends ever since. He's one of those rare coaches that has been great for college baseball and I think the kids that have played for him have learned the game of baseball, as well as the game of life. I know I will miss competing against him and I'm sure many other coaches will, too."

Former Razorback Bill Bakewell (1977, ’78, ’79):

"The best thing I can say about Norm is what a great person he is. The University of Arkansas could not have a better representative than Norm DeBriyn. He is a special person who has always made time for others, even when he didn't have time for himself.
"He cares so much for his players and he is as proud of those who have gone on to build careers in private business as he is of those who have played in professional baseball."

LSU Athletic Director and Former Baseball Coach Skip Bertman:

“He’s a Hall of Famer. Norm and so many coaches of his generation have set the stage for college baseball and made it what it is today. In addition to being a great coach, he’s a genuinely fine human being and one of the great guys of all time.”

SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer:

“Norm has really been one of the true building blocks of baseball not just at Arkansas but also in our conference. He brought Arkansas in with class and was competitive from the beginning. He probably has the best understanding of the big picture of intercollegiate athletics than almost any coach I’ve been around. He has a good, positive feeling about people and his program. He has been a great credit to the University of Arkansas, the SEC and college baseball. He will be sorely missed.”

Former Razorback (1983) and Former St. Louis Cardinal Catcher Tom Pagnozzi:

“First of all, when a guy has been there 33 years, that shows remarkable stability. The second thing is he has great character of a very, very high quality. He is honest. That is what you need in that type of position. What is impressive to me is that he maintained that year after year. There hasn’t been that much change in him over the years other than he has mellowed a little bit. Okay, maybe he has mellowed a lot.
“Norm’s legacy in the state of Arkansas and college baseball is that he took what basically was a club sport playing at the fairgrounds to a nationally competitive program playing at Baum Stadium. There are a number of people responsible for Baum Stadium and the program’s success, but he was the driving force behind all of it. He has won year after year while producing quality players.
“Personally, he took a chance on me. I was a drafted player that was making a position change. For him to roll the dice on a recruiting trip, when he looked right at me and said if you don’t make it as a catcher you may not play, was honest and straight to the point. I would’ve never gotten to the point I’ve gotten without the time he spent with me and all the extra things we did in practice. I attribute so much of my success to him.”

Mississippi State Head Coach Ron Polk:

“The Southeastern Conference and college baseball are losing another coaching great with Norm’s retirement. We’ve been close friends for many, many years, dating back to Arkansas’ years in the Southwest Conference, and I’m going to miss him. He’s a class coach and a class individual, and his teams have always been well-trained and competed on a high level.

“I congratulate Norm on a tremendous coaching career and extend wishes for the very best to him and to his family.”

University of Arkansas System President Dr. B. Alan Sugg:

“Coach Norm DeBriyn's retirement will be a great loss for the University of Arkansas. In every way he represents the best of what a coach should be. He is tremendously respected by his players and by the fans. He is a class act.”

South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner:
"I've cherished every opportunity I've had to visit with Coach DeBriyn. He's been a true friend and he has shared many of his experiences in college baseball with me ... and I truly appreciate that. He will be missed as a great man and as a great college baseball coach."

Nebraska Head Coach and Former UA Player/Graduate Assistant Coach Dave Van Horn:

“Norm has been a positive influence in my life. I have been extremely privileged to play and coach with him. There is not a person I respect more than Norm DeBriyn. He has been my mentor and friend, and in many ways he has been a second father to me.

“When we started, at the college level there were just a few high-profile teams getting the majority of the top players. We started in the old days when they practiced at the Fairgrounds and other teams would laugh at our field. He just kept working and built the program.

“I have mixed emotions about Norm retiring. I’m happy for him, but I’m sad that he will no longer be the coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.”

University of Arkansas Chancellor Dr. John A. White:

“I think he has done a tremendous job at the UA. He is going to be missed. I’m delighted that he will continue to be a part of our program. As great as a baseball coach as he has been, he’s been even a greater ambassador for the University of Arkansas and our state.”

Former Razorback (1997, ’98, ‘99) and Current Chicago White Sox Pitcher Dan Wright:

“Obviously he has been a mainstay at the University of Arkansas. I run into people all the time that say ‘I played against Arkansas, is Norm DeBriyn still the coach there?’ The longevity of his career is the thing that sticks out. The thing that I appreciate most is his honesty. He has always been a straight shooter. I didn’t put up great numbers in college, but he always was honest with me and let me know where I stood.”
06-11-2002 04:45 PM
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Norm DeBriyn Press Conference Transcript
UA Sports Information- Tuesday, June 11, 2002 ---Norm DeBriyn:

"I'd like to thank everyone for being here. It's a happy occasion. I guess starting out, being my age and being through what I have been through, it seems like the losses get tougher every year and the wins aren't quite as enjoyable. I just made the decision to step aside. I've talked to Coach Broyles about it and that will be addressed later.

"I probably decided this about a week ago. I've been toying and thinking about it for about a year. I put some thoughts together when we were in Clemson and would like to read them and then I will be done.

"First of all I'd like to thank Coach Broyles for giving the program a chance to grow. He's allowed us to compete on a national level. Everything we've needed to get to Omaha and win a national championship has been in place. The program is in good shape and I really appreciate his support.

"I want to thank the media for the friendships the relationships, the times we've had together, the way you've treated us. We were going to Omaha for while there, every other year, in the 1980's, and that was nice. In the '90s they've been thinner and I'm responsible for that. You all could have been a lot tougher on that, the players, the program, on me, but you've been very good. Even when things haven't gone as well as we've hoped you've been good, and I appreciate that.

"I want to thank Caroline and my family for their love and support over the years. Without them I probably wouldn't have been able to be in this as long as I have. Coaching - and I see Coach Nutt, Coach Heath, Coach Clark, Coach Montez, and I see Coach Horton back there...you know when you are in a situation like this you are always going to miss some names - it's a tough business. I'm 60 years old and it's a 365, 24/7 I'm kind of a nervous guy. I've beaten myself up on a lot of things when I make mistakes and I make a lot of them and it just gets tougher all the time. That went into it also. My point is that I really appreciate the family support over the time.

"I love coaching and I'm going to miss it. I thank God for a wonderful profession, the relationships, the players the friends you meet. It's unbelievable. This morning I was talking to Fred Howard and I've been fortunate enough to have Fred play for us and play for me. In 1970 he was the winning pitcher in the first game we won when I was at Arkansas and he was at the last game we played where I had the reigns at Clemson on Sunday. I think Fred is here today. It is situations like that you appreciate and remember. Memories are a great thing.

"I talked about a time for everything and I think the time is right for me to step aside. I've been here for 33 years. I coached five years on the high school level. I had one year as a freshman coach at the University of Northern Colorado and was able to come here right after that. The effectiveness in the SEC is probably better in the hands of a coach younger than me, and that was a big part of my decision.

"Our program is in good shape and I notice a lot of our players here today and I appreciate them. We had a club this year that reminded me a lot of the 1979 team. I didn't realize until I talked to players individually last night - we knew as a coaching staff - I realized how close they were and how they bonded as a club this year. I think that is the reason we were able to finish strong and make as good a run as we did.

"I had player after player telling me as I asked them questions, he'd say 'Boy this is a fun year. This is the best year I've had here, I'm really enjoying it.' I'd question him more and it was his teammates. It was his teammates that he enjoyed. It was his teammates that he appreciated, and you could see that chemistry. I think that Coaches Montez and Clark did a great job in their respective areas in bringing out the best in our ball club. From preparing the team through scouting reports and getting us ready for the next game.

"I don't know if I can remember a scrappier, more competitive club than the one sitting in front of us right now. They've done a tremendous job and for that I'll always hold them special and will never forget them.

"The freshmen, we played four freshmen around the horn. You look at Goodwin at third, Hode at short, Bridges at second, and McConnell in the outfield. We had good sophomores and juniors, senior leadership in Michael Conner, Charlie Isaacson, Gary Hogan Jr., Cody Clark, and every one of you that contributed.

"Another part of this factor, I think, is you fight the pro draft. I'm looking at our club this year and we lost five last summer. Our coaches did a great job of recruiting. We lost two second rounders, a fifth rounder, a seventh rounder, and we had a thirty-second rounder sign. A couple of those kids, as freshmen, might not be ready immediately to contribute and play and help you, but we felt like a couple of them were. That's tough and you face that year after year and you don't know where you stand.

"Right now in our recruiting class we've lost four. We had two junior college players who were under control and both signed. These were all part of the incoming class. That gets tough when you go through that every year. The scholarship limits - baseball is an equivalency sport. I always find myself talking on the phone, talking to parents, talking to athletes.

"The players over the years, I'd like to thank them. Without you the accomplishments this program has made would not have been possible. I'd like to thank the people - those who have played here and gotten their degrees - that have developed good work ethics. I hope we've been able to instill that and I hope we've been able to help you in society and in life.

"I've been around so long there's some second generation players. There's Jason Reynolds, Travis McDaniel, and Matt Howard - I mentioned his dad earlier, Fred - that have been in the program and that's been nice. I'd especially like to thank Doug Clark for his service over 26 years and I'll be grateful for him. Tim Montez, in his fifth year, has given us a shot in the arm. We've gone to regionals three out of the five years he's been here and that says something. I want to wish the best for them. They've been loyal and they work hard, and I will be there for them.

"I appreciate the people who have given so much to the program. The relationships of Charlie and Nadine Baum, the friends you meet Willard and Pat Walker, Johnny, Mike and Debbie Walker. The former players, Fred Howard, Stan Ley, Tom Pagnozzi, the guys like McReynolds, Ray, Lollar, and Selakovich that gave lights when we were at George Cole Field. Then we transferred those lights to Baum Stadium.

"It's been tremendous. The program is important to them. I heard Coach Broyles say once 'Those people are givers. They make a difference. They're difference makers.' That's what they've meant to this program. Tom Pagnozzi has been unbelievable to this program in what he has given to us for a player that was a junior college recruit - that Doug Clark recruited - came in here, played one year, and then went in the tenth round with the Cardinals, signed professionally and played in the big leagues for 12 years. He came back and we were talking about some needs and so forth and I'll never forget one day he writes a check for $50,000. The next day he writes another check for $50,000 again. He's been tremendous.

"Yesterday, for me, was the toughest day. Telling my coaches and the players really was tough. I visited with Coach Broyles about this. I went into his office about a week ago and then again yesterday and told him about my decision. I told him I don't know what the future holds, but I would like to be involved in some capacity with the athletic department if that is possible.
Athletic Director Frank Broyles:

"This is an emotional occasion. When you've been on the job 33 years and you have built relationships with friends everywhere, you're loved, you're appreciated, you're admired, you're respected in everything that he does, on the field, off the field, with his players, you know how much he has meant to this athletic program and to the state of Arkansas.

"Norm is the consummate coach, friend, and associate. I can truthfully say in the 33 years, we've agreed on everything. That is something to behold and that's the reason this is such an emotional time for me. The thing about our baseball program is it was led by Norm and his staff with integrity, focus on academics and building relationships with his players, lasting relationships.

"When I judge a coach and the many that have been here in years past, you look at their win loss record obviously, but you also look at the relationships you build with your players and what do they mean to the university, and how they feel about the university when they leave. No group of athletes can surpass what the baseball players of the past 33 years have done for the university and meant to the university and their support of the University of Arkansas.

"That shows me what a coach is supposed to do - go beyond the win-loss record and build lasting relationships. Norm has built relationships with people who have supported the University and Baum Stadium is a direct result of his relationships with Charlie and Nadine Baum and with the Walker family. It would not have been built without those relationships.

"He has relationships with Pagnozzi, and its unbelievable the players and how they respect and admire him. They also have a feeling for what he did for them at the University and we are grateful for that.

"Norm doesn't know this, we've talked about it, but he will stay on in a strong position with the athletic department or with the Foundation, we'll decide later.

"We want him around. We want him to be like Wilson Matthews, a dear friend who was always around, lending his wisdom, his knowledge, and his experience to what we are faced with on a daily basis. Norm will be involved with all that we do with the Razorbacks in the future. We are very pleased to say that he is going to stay with us and let us take advantage of all that he has done in the past and what he can do in the future.

"I want to say to Norm and Caroline it just doesn't get any better between an athletic director, the fans, the coach, and the players than Norm had with this group. Thank you Norm from the bottom of our heart."


How much did the strong finish factor in your decision to finish?
"That was a factor. I basically had made up my mind and as I mentioned I will miss coaching. I talked to Hal Baird at Auburn when he stepped aside. He said when you make the decision don't look back. Doug Clark and I talked this morning about that and that's what I'm going to do. I feel good. I feel really good about the program and I feel good about my decision. It is tough there is no question about it."

Had you not been in postseason do you think you would come back?
"I don't think so. I've been really pondering this hard for about a year, and when I say a year I really mean that. It has been right in that area. I'm not going to say 100 percent, but I don't think so."

Any thoughts on your successor?
"Coach Broyles will make that call. He's hired many coaches in the past, he's done a good job and has a great track record. The way I feel is that he will hire the right person for the job."

Is there one memory that sticks out above the others over 33 years?
"I remember the first game we ever played was a double header and I couldn't sleep that night, and my feet were sore from standing all day. I remember the 1989 conference championship was a special year. The '85 Southwest Conference Tournament Championship was special where we beat Texas at George Cole Field, that was a special time. That was fun - the '85, '89, and this team was fun. Those are just some quick memories."

Can you give us a time line on when you will hire and new coach and how much influence will DeBriyn have in this?
"I want to pick his brain first. He knows every baseball coach."

When did you finally make a cemented decision to step down?
"It was a bout a week ago. It might have been driving back from Wichita because it was such an uplifting thing. Caroline and I came back - I drove back with her alone and basically told her."

Aside from raising money, what do you want to do now?
"Like Coach Broyles said, I might be able to be around. I'm a fan. I love football, basketball. I'll go to more practices. I'll go to baseball, maybe I can be involved and help. I really appreciate the opportunity."

Is Fayetteville home from here on out?
"I believe it will be. That's what our kids know, that's where they were born, that's where Caroline and I have come to. Fayetteville will be home."

Are you more relieved or saddened that you have made the retirement decision?
"Its a tough day. I didn't look forward to this."

How will you assess the effectiveness of your program after you leave?
"The job that I've done...its been a good situation. There's a lot of potential here. Baum Stadium is the best. There is a lot of energy, but that's part of the marketing and the team on the field. Doug and Tim have done a good job in putting a good product out there. We've had some success. I think we've held our own. Naturally I'd like to have done better. I'd like to have won more, but that didn't happen.

"I don't think I'm the best of the best. I know I'm not going to look back and say I haven't worked at it as hard as I could."

How has the game changed over the years?
"The game has definitely changed. I was talking to Dean Weber last night and we were talking about the wooden bats we used to use. That's a story in itself. When those aluminum bats first came out they were a monster. Over the years they have made that bat a part of technology where the game isn't even the same.

"In college baseball I feel sorry for the pitcher, but they've changed the bat to make it not as high-tech as before. But I would say that the runs scored have meant more in the game of college baseball changing than any other part of the game.

"Coaching and facilities have gotten better over the years. I think college baseball today is more like football and basketball as far as the fish bowl and what you see around the country. It's a big time sport. People are making money in college baseball and the sport is supporting itself in many places now.

What kind of characteristics are you going to look for in a successor?
"Another Norm DeBriyn, the same qualities."

Looking at the program, the talent pool and the facilities, what is your take on that?
"I think Norm has left the program in good standing with the system in place, the fan support, the financial support, the facilites, the tradition is all here. We should be able to attract a number of people who are highly qualified, and I really believe that."

What is the key to the program making money?
"The key, in regards to making money, would be if the Big Ten wins, the argument in the way the College World Series is delayed until after July 4th because of weather. We are going to - and I told Norm one of the things he is going to help me with - try and increase our baseball income to over one-half million dollars. That will put us competitive with anybody and we can pay the salaries and do the things that we want to do to build a national championship caliber program here.

"Right now our income in baseball, because of weather, is about $200,000. We are going to draw up a program and take our income to over $500,000 maybe to $600,000 by next year

<small>[ June 11, 2002, 11:01 PM: Message edited by: calling_the_hogs ]</small>
06-11-2002 10:00 PM
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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What are your feelings and/or memories of Coach Norm DeBriyn and his Razorback teams over the last 33 years?
06-11-2002 10:31 PM
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