Miami’s Jim Morris Explains What He Learned

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

MIAMI, Fla. — Jim Morris, one of the greatest coaches in college baseball history, will retire following the 2018 baseball season.

The head coach at the University of Miami (Fla.) for the past 24 seasons and skipper at Georgia Tech. 12 seasons prior to that, has forged a 1,566-690-4 NCAA Division I record in 36 years.

Morris has led the Hurricanes to two national titles in 1999 and 2001. He set an NCAA record after guiding Miami to the CWS in each of his first six years with the Hurricanes. Over 150 players have gone into pro baseball after playing for Morris.

Collegiate Baseball presents this special question and answer session with Coach Morris.

COLLEGIATE BASEBALL: This will be your 41st year as a head coach in college baseball. Prior to Miami and Georgia Tech. you were a highly successful skipper at DeKalb (Ga.) Community College from 1976-79. What have you learned during your amazing journey.

JIM MORRIS: I have changed a lot as a coach. I was a head coach at the age of 24 at DeKalb Community College (Atlanta, Ga.). I had a player who was 22. At that particular time in my career, I had no assistant coaches. I was starting a program at DeKalb College. I felt like I had to separate myself from the players to make sure they could talk to me but not allow them to be my buddy since I was nearly the same age. I was starting a program that didn’t have a field or anything else for that matter. In my second year, we were national runner-up. I had 47 guys drafted in four years, including the No. 1 pick in the country. That’s what opened the door for my career. I had no idea how lucky I was. Now the school is called Perimeter College. But they have done away with athletics. When I left DeKalb, the baseball program was ranked No. 1 in the country

CB: How did you learn about recruiting at such a young age? It is extremely rare to see such a young coach reach such lofty heights so quickly.

MORRIS: I had just finished my playing career with the Red Sox, and I took the DeKalb job. And frankly, I just worked extremely hard in the quest to develop a great program. The pro scouts put me on their back and helped me. My next head coaching job was at Georgia Tech. in 1982. The program had never finished above last in the Atlantic Coast Conference. When I left in 1993, they were No. 1 in the country. That team had a team that featured Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Jay Payton and Brad Rigby plus other fine players. We had won four ACC championships in a row. That qualified me to coach at the University of Miami.

CB: That’s quite a journey as a head baseball coach.

MORRIS: I had gone from DeKalb College where they had no baseball program before I took over to a place that had never won to a place you aren’t supposed to lose any games after what Ron Fraser had built there over many years.

CB: Taking over Miami’s program from legendary coach Ron Fraser must have been exciting but also intimidating as well. When you take over the reins of a program from a Hall of Fame coach who has raised the bar so high, it must be difficult.

MORRIS: If it wasn’t for the fact that Coach Fraser recruited me, then I wouldn’t have done that. Miami’s Athletic Director Paul Dee went to Coach Fraser and also Skip Bertman (former head coach at LSU) for advice on who should become the new coach. Both of them told him that I am the person they should hire. So I didn’t really apply for the job. Paul Dee called Georgia Tech. asking for permission to interview me. The AD at Georgia Tech. said they were more than welcome to talk to me, but added that I would never leave Georgia Tech. Paul Dee called me, and that started the process of me becoming the next coach at Miami. They made me a great offer. They told me I would get anything I needed to win. And I would get anything that football received. I asked him to repeat that again because I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Any time I needed something, I would remind Mr. Dee about the promise he had made. He was very good to me, and I was very lucky to be a part of his staff. But it is intimidating to follow such a great coach and man in Ron Fraser. If it didn’t work out at Miami, I could always fall back on selling real estate. But I responded by saying it is exactly like that. I have owned 41 houses in my life and really enjoy real estate. I told Coach Fraser that it was like following Bear Bryant at Alabama for football or John Wooden at UCLA in basketball. He told me it wasn’t.

To read more of this question and answer session, purchase the Feb. 23, 2018 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.

Coach Morris delves into what he learned during his coaching career, his approach to offense and developing players. He explains what he learned from Ted Williams who was his hitting coach when he played with the Red Sox. He also talks about pitching and how he has changed from a fiery coach like Billy Martin to a calm and collected skipper. Plus, he talks about how players can learn to focus after failing and his approach to winning the College World Series championship game.