The baseball Buckeyes have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2009, and after a sizzling start to Big Ten play and an upset of fourth ranked Louisville, there was a strong expectation that this would be the year the Buckeyes broke the steak. In fact, in late April, there was legitimate talk that the Buckeyes would not only make the NCAAs, but potentially even host a regional.
You probably remember how the story ended. The wheels completely fell off the wagon as Ohio State lost 10 of their last 11 games, including yet another gut-wrenching loss in the Big Ten Tournament (Iowa hit a walk-off home run in their last out of the game), and Ohio State tumbled out of tournament consideration, finishing with a 35-21 record, good for seventh place in the Big Ten.
What does another late season collapse say about Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals? Thanks to his July 10 performance evaluation, obtained by Land-Grant Holy Land, we now have the answer.
As part of the formal evaluation process, Coach Beals had to fill out a self-evaluation section, where he was asked to highlight successes, list challenges faced, and actions to improve himself and the program. Beals mentioned that Ohio State qualified for another Big Ten Tournament, the only program to qualify for every single one over the last five years (the top eight teams qualified last year, with Ohio State grabbing a seven seed). The Buckeyes also boasted four All Big-Ten players, and had four players selected in the MLB draft. This was also the first season with all of Beals' recruits.
Under challenges, Beals alluded to troubles with maintaining the team's confidence and mental state during the end of the year struggles. Beals mentioned he was very positive with the team when they lost 10 of 11, and that finding the right balance between tough and being positive is a challenge. Interestingly, Beals said he would talk to sports psychologists over the offseason to gain additional advice on how to develop toughness and confidence over the season.
Beals was then evaluated by his supervisor, Ohio State associate AD Martin Jarmond, who graded Beals on a variety of goals on a "exceeds expectations", "meets expectations" or "opportunity for improvement". Beals was graded as meeting expectations for every metric but one, the "competitive success of the program", which got the lowest rating. I can't speak to every coach performance evaluation at Ohio State, but I've seen a fair amount of coaching performance reviews across the country, and anybody getting the lowest rank in any metric is incredibly rare, in my experience. It is clear that Ohio State wants this baseball program to win more.
Finally, Beals is given a list of goals for the program headed into next year. The top goal on the list? Represent Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament, with a May 2016 progress date given.
It is unclear from just this document to say that Greg Beals is in a win or else situation, or that his job is 100% in jeopardy, and there are certainly things to take away from his tenure that are positive. This review does make it clear that Ohio State expects to win more baseball games, to be more consistent in doing so, and to make the NCAAs this season, a reasonable goal given the talent level of the program for this coming season.
If Ohio State misses the tournament again, and especially if they do so with another late season collapse, Ohio State baseball might be looking at yet another reboot.