Ole Miss named Mike Bianco as head coach of the Rebel baseball program on June 7, 2000. Since then, Bianco has become the winningest coach in program history, bringing the Rebels back to national prominence.
In the 15 seasons since taking the reins of the program, Bianco has delivered on that expectation as Ole Miss Baseball has become one of the nation’s benchmark programs. With 13 postseason appearances in 15 years, five Super Regional appearances over the last 11 years and a College World Series appearance in 2014, Ole Miss has continued to rank among the nation’s elite each season under Bianco.
Bianco is the winningest coach in Ole Miss Baseball history with 587 victories (587-351-1) as head coach of the Rebels. Ole Miss has reached the 30-win plateau in each of Bianco’s 15 seasons, proving that the Rebels reload their roster, not rebuild. His latest team, the 2015 squad, returned to postseason play after losing 17 lettermen off a 2014 team that made the College World Series, including eight that were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft.
The Rebels posted three straight 40-win seasons from 2005-2007 for the first time in school history and have averaged 40 wins a year over the last decade. Ole Miss has also hosted an NCAA Regional six of the last 12 years and advanced to a Super Regional five times in that span, culminating with the program’s fifth College World Series appearance in 2014.
Bianco has also led the Rebels to championships as Ole Miss won the Western Division Title in 2005 and followed that with the 2006 SEC Tournament Championship. In 2009, the Rebels claimed the overall SEC Championship with a school record 20 wins in conference play before claiming the SEC Western Division title again in 2014.
On the field, Bianco has established a tradition of developing some of the nation’s top players as the Rebels have seen a combined 26 selections to All-America and Freshman All-America teams over the past 15 seasons. The most recent additions to the list of All-Americans were catcher Will Allen, third baseman Austin Anderson and outfielder Auston Bousfield following the 2014 season. It marked the first time in program history that the Rebels had three players tabbed as All-Americans in the same season. Outfielder and designated hitter J.B. Woodman was also a Freshman All-America selection in 2014.
Ole Miss also became the first school to produce two different finalists for the Johnny Bench Award in consecutive seasons when Stuart Turner and Allen were named as finalists in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Turner claimed the award in 2013, becoming the first catcher in program history to be tabbed as the national catcher of the year.
The excellence produced on the field has not gone unnoticed over the last 15 seasons under Bianco as the Rebels have seen 88 draft picks by Major League Baseball in that time. Of those 88 draft selections, seven are currently active in the Major Leagues in 2015.
Bianco’s on-field accomplishments have been recognized nationally, as the Rebel skipper was selected to serve as an assistant coach with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2013.
He also became the all-time winningest coach in Ole Miss history when he passed Rebel legend Jake Gibbs with his 486th win on March 9, 2013 against Lipscomb in non-conference action. To date, Bianco holds 587 wins at the helm of the Rebels.
The excitement on the field has spilled over into the stands where fans of Ole Miss Baseball have taken notice and shown their appreciation. Each season under Bianco, attendance has soared as more and more fans clamor to fill Oxford-University Stadium. That frenzy has been characterized as one of the best atmospheres in baseball.
Attendance figures have been shattered with a record 273,000 fans packing the park in 2009 to see the Rebels play. The 2015 season marked the 11th consecutive season that more than 160,000 fans have come to Oxford to see Ole Miss in action, and the 12th straight year with more than 120,000 fans flocking to O-U Stadium to watch Rebel baseball. All-told, more than two million fans have poured into O-U Stadium to cheer on the Rebels during the Bianco era. In 2011, the Rebels ranked second nationally with an average of 8,156 fans per game at Swayze Field, and that trend has continued with the Rebels ranking in the top five nationally for 10 consecutive seasons. In 2015, Ole Miss played in front of an average crowd of 8,028, the second-most in the nation and the second-highest average in program history. Over 30 home games during the 2015 campaign, 240,849 people watched the Rebels play at O-U Stadium.
With the success on the field and support in the stands, Oxford has evolved into a top destination for fans of postseason baseball. Bianco and the Rebels hosted four straight NCAA Regionals and two Super Regionals from 2004-2007. Ole Miss posted the largest crowds for any NCAA Super Regional in 2005 and 2006 and posted the highest attendance of any NCAA Regional in 2006. The 2005 NCAA Regional in Oxford drew the second-largest crowd among all Regionals.
When the Rebels hosted again in 2009 at the newly renovated Oxford-University Stadium, new attendance marks were again set; Ole Miss hosted the largest crowd in school history as 10,323 fans came to see the Rebels take on Virginia in game two of the Super Regional. All told, 29,646 fans came to the Super Regional, making it the most attended Super Regional of the season and the highest attendance for a Super Regional at an on-campus facility in NCAA history.
That single-game attendance record was broken again when 10,851 fans at Swayze Field showed up to support the Rebels against Vanderbilt on April 6, 2013. In the 2014 NCAA Regional, the Rebels ranked second nationally with 49,314 fans packing the stadium for the six-game event as Ole Miss began its run to the College World Series.
On Monday, June 13, 2005, the Rebels’ Super Regional game against eventual national champion Texas was the third most watched television broadcast of a college baseball game in the history of ESPN. It’s further evidence that under Mike Bianco, Ole Miss Baseball has truly become a national name.
OLE MISS ENTERS A NEW ERA
Since Bianco took the helm of the program 15 years ago, he has raised the bar for expectations at Ole Miss with each successive season.
After being picked to finish sixth in the SEC Western Division in his first season, the Rebels defied expectations, finishing second in the SEC Western Division with a 17-13 record and an overall record of 39-23-1. The 39 wins was then one shy of the school record for a single season, while the 17 conference wins tied the school record at the time.
Ole Miss would rise in the national spotlight that season, breaking into the top 10 in the national rankings for the first time since the 1972 season. The Rebels closed out the year with a trip to the NCAA Regional in New Orleans as the No. 2 seed.
Four Rebels earned spots as All-SEC selections on either the first or second team, while outfielder Burney Hutchinson earned second team All-America honors from Baseball Weekly. It would be the beginning of a steady climb to the top for Ole Miss.
The Rebels again found themselves in the national spotlight in the 2002 season as Ole Miss climbed as high as No. 6 in the national rankings following a series win at then No. 2 Alabama. It was the highest national ranking for the Rebels since finishing the 1969 season ranked No. 6 by Collegiate Baseball. Ole Miss would also see its first Freshman of the Year in the SEC as outfielder Seth Smith earned the honor from the league.
The 2003 season again saw Ole Miss in the postseason as Ole Miss earned a berth in the Houston Regional. Bianco’s Rebels, led by a pitching staff that saw five freshmen throw more than 60 percent of the innings on the season and led the SEC in ERA at 3.45 for the year, hit the 35-win mark for the third straight season on the way to the postseason. The appearance in the NCAA Regional was the second in three years for Bianco’s program and only the fourth for Ole Miss since the 1977 season.
One member of that pitching staff, two-way player Stephen Head, would be named SEC Freshman of the Year and also named national Freshman of the Year along with All-America honors.
The groundwork was laid for the future as the Rebels would reach even greater heights in the coming years.
BACK-TO-BACK SEASONS OF FIRSTS
Ole Miss set the stage for the move to the next level in 2004 as the Rebels earned another berth in the postseason, marking the first time in program history that Ole Miss would reach an NCAA Regional in back-to-back seasons. However, things were different this time around.
Instead of heading on the road for the postseason in 2004, the Rebels were selected as one of the 16 host sites for an NCAA Regional. It was the first time Ole Miss had ever served as a Regional host, but it wouldn’t be the last.
On the way to the postseason, Bianco’s Rebels notched a school-record 18 wins in Southeastern Conference play on the way to an overall mark of 39-21. The Rebels were also ranked in all four major college baseball polls each week of the season, including eight total weeks in the top 10 in at least one of the polls. Ole Miss was in the top 10 for six-straight weeks from March 22- April 26, moving as high as fourth-nationally in the March 29 edition of the Collegiate Baseball rankings.
Stephen Head, then a sophomore, earned All-America honors for the second-straight season, becoming the school’s third two-time All-American in 2004. He also was named Co-Player of the Year in the SEC and was selected as one of five finalists for the 2004 Golden Spikes Award, amateur baseball’s most prestigious award. It was the first time a Rebel player had ever been a finalist for the award. Head also brought home to Oxford the first “Boo” Ferriss Award, given to the top baseball player in the state of Mississippi.
Not satisfied with the accomplishments of the previous season, Ole Miss added to its list of firsts in 2005 as the Rebels built on its earlier success. The Rebels hosted a second-straight NCAA Regional and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time, playing host to the eventual national-champion Texas Longhorns. The Rebels broke the 40-win mark for the first time under Bianco, setting a school record with a 48-20 record on the season and claiming the SEC Western Division Championship.
Ole Miss also saw the second-straight “Boo” Ferriss Award come to Oxford when Brian Pettway was named as the award’s recipient as well as being named an All-American for the first time in his career. He joined Stephen Head, who became the program’s first-ever three-time All-American when he earned the distinction again in 2005.
CONTINUED CHAMPIONSHIPS AND SUCCESS
Not to be content with the success of previous years, Bianco’s Rebels used the achievements of 2005 to springboard into the 2006 season.
The Rebels posted a 44-22 record marking the first time in history that Ole Miss had turned in back-to-back 40-win seasons. Ole Miss also claimed the 2006 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on the way to hosting its third-consecutive NCAA Regional as well as a second-straight Super Regional against the Miami Hurricanes.
The Rebels would again see two players gain national recognition as Zack Cozart and Cody Satterwhite were named All-Americans and three Rebels would gain All-SEC honors.
With the conclusion of the 2006 season, Ole Miss found itself holding a spot as one of the top teams in the nation and atop the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels were the only team in the SEC to post a winning record in conference play each of the previous four seasons. Ole Miss also posted more wins in the SEC than any other program over the same time frame.
Ole Miss extended that streak in 2007 as the Rebels posted a fifth-straight winning season in SEC action and continued to lead the league in wins over the same time period with 86 conference wins over the previous five years. The Rebels also set a new mark with a third consecutive 40-win season as Ole Miss advanced to the Tempe Super Regional and posted a 40-25 mark on the year. The Rebels became one of only two schools to have hosted an NCAA Regional each of the previous four years and one of only four schools to have advanced to Super Regional play three-straight years.
Several players pulled in honors in 2007 as Ole Miss added a third SEC Freshman of the Year in Jordan Henry and seven Rebels took slots on All-SEC Teams. Cozart was named an All-SEC First Team selection, while Henry, Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite were named to the Second Team. Henry also joined Nathan Baker and Zach Miller on the All-Freshman team. The trio also pulled in Freshman All-America honors, marking the first time the Rebels earned the honor for three players in the same season.
The honors continued to come in for the Rebels in 2008 as Ole Miss advanced to a sixth-straight NCAA Regional, playing in Coral Gables at No. 1 Miami. The Rebels advanced to the championship game before falling to the top-ranked and top-seeded Hurricanes. Scott Bittle brought home the program’s third Ferriss Award as the state of Mississippi’s top collegiate player and also earned First Team All-America honors.
Ole Miss continued to pull in the accolades in 2009 as the Rebels claimed the Southeastern Conference Championship for the first time since 1977 with a 20-10 record in conference play. The 20 wins set the school record for wins in SEC play and helped Ole Miss secure a seventh straight berth in the NCAA Tournament, hosting for the fifth time in Bianco’s nine years. The Rebels advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the fourth time in the last five seasons, becoming one of only six schools to advance to at least four Super Regionals in that time.
In 2010, the Rebels again made an appearance in the postseason with an eighth consecutive berth, competing in an NCAA Regional at the University of Virginia. With the appearance, Ole Miss became one of only 12 schools nationally to advance to eight straight NCAA Tournaments. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz claimed SEC Pitcher of the Year honors, becoming the first Rebel to claim the award since its inception, and also garnered All-SEC and All-America honors. Right-hander Brett Huber also claimed postseason accolades as he was also named an All-SEC selection and earned Freshman All-America honors. Pomeranz became the highest draft pick in school history when he was taken fifth-overall by the Cleveland Indians and led a group of five Rebels drafted in 2010. The left-hander also became the fourth Rebel to claim the Ferriss Trophy, giving Ole Miss more winners of the award than any other program in the state.
In 2011, the Rebels continued to bring in postseason accolades as Alex Yarbrough was named an All-SEC selection. Ole Miss also continued the trend of sending Rebels to the pros with six players selected in the 2011 MLB Draft.
The 2012 season saw the Rebels advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in the Bianco era as Ole Miss advanced to the regional championship at the College Station Regional hosted by Texas A&M. The Rebels defeated the eighth-ranked Aggies on the way to the program’s sixth regional championship game in an eight year span, a feat accomplished by only 15 teams nationally at the time. Yarbrough was tabbed as an All-SEC and All-America selection at the conclusion of the season and was one of six Rebels drafted in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft.
The 2013 season again saw the Rebels advance to the NCAA Tournament with a berth in the Raleigh Regional hosted by N.C. State after a 38-win season and advancing to the third day of play at the SEC Tournament. Stuart Turner and Bobby Wahl became the most recent All-SEC and All-America honorees, while Turner was named as the recipient of the Johnny Bench Award as the top collegiate catcher in the nation. Ole Miss also continued the trend of sending players to the professional ranks with five players drafted, marking the 10th consecutive season with at least five players taken in the MLB Draft.
REBELS RETURN TO OMAHA
The 2014 season saw Bianco lead the Rebels to the pinnacle of college baseball as Ole Miss advanced to the College World Series for the fifth time in program history and first time since the 1972 season.
Ole Miss claimed the SEC Western Division title for the third time under Bianco’s leadership, posting a 19-11 record before hosting an NCAA Regional for the sixth time under Bianco. The Rebels blew through the Regional with a win over Jacksonville State and a pair of wins over Washington on the way to a fifth NCAA Super Regional in 10 seasons.
In the NCAA Super Regional, the Rebels traveled to face top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette and rallied after losing the first game to claim the NCAA Super Regional with wins in game two and three to secure the program’s berth in the College World Series.
In Omaha, the Rebels faced the new top-ranked team in Virginia, falling to the Cavaliers 2-1 in the opening-round game before picking up wins over Texas Tech and TCU in elimination game to set up another showdown with Virginia with a berth in the CWS Championship series on the line. Ole Miss fell to the Cavaliers to end the season with a third-place finish – tying the best finish in the CWS by an Ole Miss team with the 1956 Rebels.
After advancing to the College World Series for the fifth time in program history during the 2014 season, Bianco had a young team with little experience take the field for the 2015 campaign. Gone from the team that made it to Omaha were 17 players, including eight that were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft. Three position players returned to the starting lineup along with a cast that was just getting its first taste of baseball at the highest collegiate level. To make things even more difficult, Ole Miss was faced with the nation’s toughest schedule all season long. Despite the youthful team and the difficult schedule, the Rebels were relentless and determined to continue the program’s excellence under Bianco. With five wins over teams ranked No. 1 in the country, including series wins over Florida and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss fought through the gauntlet to earn another postseason berth, the 13th during Bianco’s tenure.
Leading the way throughout the season were Second Team All-SEC reliever Wyatt Short, Ferriss Trophy finalist Scott Weathersby, and senior Sikes Orvis. Short recorded 10 saves in 2015, while Weathersby moved from a reliever to a spot in the weekend rotation, willing to be called upon whenever his team needed him to lead the way. Orvis, a fan favorite and face of the program, finished his career as a Rebel by climbing into the Ole Miss top-10 career home runs list.
EXCITEMENT LEADS TO RECORD CROWDS
Ole Miss’ success on the diamond under Bianco has led to the Rebels being successful at the box office. Ole Miss has ranked among the nation’s top 25 attendance leaders in all of Bianco’s 15 seasons at Ole Miss. That streak also includes 12 consecutive years ranked in the top 10.
Proof of the excitement and success surrounding Ole Miss Baseball can most clearly be seen when looking at the numbers. Ole Miss has gone from almost 60,000 fans coming to Oxford in the 2001 season to the record-shattering 273,111 fans that made the trek to Oxford to see Ole Miss play in 2009. That figure ranked second nationally in attendance. With more than 231,818 fans coming to Oxford in 2010, the Rebels ranked in the top three for attendance for the second straight season.
In 2011, the Rebels hosted 261,006 fans through 33 home contests, averaging 8,156 fans per contest. That total was second nationally as Ole Miss continued to rank among the nation’s elite in attendance. The Rebels have maintained that trend, with a total of 239,099 fans coming to Oxford in the 2012 season and increased again to 239,909 fans in 2013 to put Ole Miss in the top five nationally once again when it comes to attendance. That number surged again in 2014 when the Rebels hit a total of 271, 920 fans in attendance for the season. In 2015, the Rebels saw an average of 8,028 fans at their home games, the second-highest average in Ole Miss Baseball history.
Every one of the top 20 crowds at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field have come during Bianco’s 15 years, including the largest crowd in program history when 10,851 came to see the Rebels play Vanderbilt on April 6, 2013.
In the 2005 season, 170,152 fans filled O-U Stadium, including 26,074 fans for the Rebels’ three-game Super Regional with Texas. That number was shattered a year later with the more than 184,000 fans traveling to Oxford in 2006, including another crowd of more than 26,000 for the Super Regional against Miami. The Rebels again broke their postseason attendance record in 2009, when almost 30,000 fans attended the NCAA Super Regional against Virginia.
Ole Miss continued to rank on the national scene in 2014 with 49,314 fans packing into Swayze Field for the NCAA Regional to make it the second most attended regional in the country.
The Rebels have taken that crowd support and turned it into a distinct home field advantage. Ole Miss has won 73 percent of its home games under Bianco, compiling a 377-143-1 record at Swayze Field.
In addition to the outstanding winning percentage, the demand for seats led to new renovations and additions at O-U Stadium/Swayze Field.
Grilling areas, picnic pavilions and terraced seats were added beyond the wall in left field in the Oakes Pavilion. Beyond the right field wall, new terracing along with more grilling areas and picnic pavilions were built in the area heavily populated by Ole Miss students.
Additions to the grandstand including skyboxes and additional grandstand seating were completed in 2009 as O-U Stadium expanded to accommodate the standing room only crowds that have become a mainstay for the Rebels under the leadership of Bianco. Prior to the 2011 season, the Rebels added a new HD video board to the outfield that measures 23′x36′ in size to enhance the game day experience.
Not only have fans and the media covering college baseball noticed Ole Miss’ resurgence under Bianco, some of the top talent in the country is also taking a close look at the Rebels.
Eleven of Bianco’s 15 recruiting classes at Ole Miss have garnered top-20 national rankings, including five that have placed in the top-10. His first recruiting class was rated as one of the nation’s 10 best by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, including a No. 6 ranking by Collegiate Baseball.
The 2003 recruiting class was ranked No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball, while the 2011 class was ranked third nationally by Collegiate Baseball and fifth by Baseball America. It marked the first top-5 recruiting class for Bianco at Ole Miss.
The Rebels have had nine first team Freshman All-Americas, two second team Freshman All-America and one honorable mention Freshman All-America selections in Bianco’s 15 seasons at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss also had back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Year winners in outfielder Seth Smith (2002) and left-handed pitcher/first baseman Stephen Head (2003). In addition, Head earned National Freshman Player of the Year honors, and Second Team All-America honors. Jordan Henry became the third SEC Freshman of the Year under Bianco when he earned the honor in 2007.
Head and Smith were also members of the USA National Team that captured the silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. Zack Cozart was selected to compete for the USA National Team in 2006, while right-handed pitchers Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite were selected to compete with the USA National Team in 2007 in the Pan Am Games.
Pomeranz became the sixth Rebel selected to compete internationally with USA Baseball in the summer of 2009 when he served as the ace of the USA National team at the World Baseball Championships, helping the United States claim the gold medal.
Ole Miss added to the list of award winners in 2013 when the Greater Wichita Sports Commission named junior catcher Stuart Turner the winner of the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher. That was followed up by Will Allen being named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award in 2014, making the Rebels the first program to have different players named as finalists for the award in back-to-back seasons.
FOUNDATION OF SUCCESS
Bianco’s winning ways can be traced back to his playing days. After spending two seasons at Indian River (Fla.) Community College, he played two seasons for Skip Bertman at perennial national-power LSU in 1988 and 1989. He was the starting catcher and team captain for the Tigers’ 1989 team that finished third at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. He homered in LSU’s 6-3 win over Miami (Fla.) in the 1989 CWS to help advance the Tigers to the semifinals.
While working behind the plate for LSU, Bianco caught major league pitchers Ben McDonald, Russ Springer, Curtis Leskanic, John O’Donoghue, Chad Ogea and Paul Byrd.
His time behind the plate as a player would later benefit him as he would serve as LSU’s pitching coach during three world series championship teams in the 1990s. Bianco would also work with the pitchers during his three years as head coach at McNeese State, and continues to serve in that same capacity with the Rebels.
Following his playing career, he joined Jim Wells’ (former head coach at Alabama) coaching staff at Northwestern State, where he served two seasons from 1991-1992 as a graduate assistant. He helped coach Northwestern State to a 1991 Southland Conference (SLC) championship and an appearance in the 1991 NCAA South I Regional.
He then returned to Baton Rouge where he joined Bertman’s staff at LSU. In five seasons at LSU from 1993-1997, the Tigers advanced to the College World Series four times and claimed three national championships. LSU also won three Southeastern Conference crowns and two SEC Tournament titles in that five-year span.
After the Tigers’ 1997 College World Series title run, Bianco was named the head coach at McNeese State in July of that year.
BIANCO EARNS HEAD COACHING EXPERIENCE
After seven seasons as an assistant at Northwestern (La.) State and LSU, Bianco received his first head coaching opportunity, taking over the reins of McNeese State.
He quickly displayed his abilities to develop a competitive program. In his first season with the Cowboys in 1998, he engineered an 11-game improvement from 1997, posting a 30-26 record – the first of three 30-win seasons. The 1998 season also saw the Cowboys rise to third in the conference standings and qualify for the SLC Tournament.
Following a 31-25 campaign in 1999, Bianco’s 2000 team produced one of the most successful seasons in McNeese State history. The Cowboys finished 39-20, including winning a school-record 20 SLC games en route to claiming their first conference title since 1988, and making their third-ever appearance in the NCAA Regionals. In recognition, Bianco was named the SLC’s Coach of the Year.
Bianco’s 2000 McNeese State team raked in the individual postseason awards. Four Cowboys were named to the SLC’s first team, including the conference’s Hitter and Newcomer of the Year in Chris Williamson, and the SLC’s Pitcher of the Year in Chris Howay.
Power hitting was the Cowboys’ trademark under Bianco, as they hit 212 home runs in his three seasons, including a school-record 81 in 1999. His 2000 team batted .305 and set a new school standard for hits in a season with 600.
COACHED 21 MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS
In his 25 years as either an assistant or head coach at Northwestern State, LSU, McNeese State and Ole Miss, Bianco has coached 113 players who have gone on to sign professional contracts, including 50 pitchers. Among those 121 players, 23 have made Major League rosters, including 13 Rebels in the past 10 seasons.
T.J. Beam (New York Yankees) was the first to be called up in 2006, followed by Seth Smith (Colorado) in 2007 and Matt Tolbert (Minnesota) in 2008. Chris Coghlan (Florida) was named the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year, while Matt Maloney (Cincinnati) made his MLB debut that same season. Alex Presley (Pittsburgh) became the sixth Bianco-coached Rebel to get the call to the majors in 2010.
Right-hander Lance Lynn (St. Louis), shortstop Zack Cozart (Cincinnati) and left-hander Drew Pomeranz (Colorado) became the next crop of player to make their Major League debuts, getting the call to the big leagues in 2011. Those call ups gave the Rebels eight players active in the Majors in the 2011 season, the second most of any Southeastern Conference team that season. Seven players appeared on Major League rosters in the 2013 season, including the call up of right-hander Phillip Irwin (Pittsburgh) that year. Right-hander Aaron Barrett (Washington) made his Major League debut on March 31, 2014.
Most recently, left-handed pitcher Matt Tracy was called up to the big leagues by the New York Yankees, April 11, 2015, and made his debut later that day. Just over one month later, another former Rebel pitcher made his Major League debut as David Goforth began pitching out of the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers.
In his 15 years at Ole Miss, Bianco has coached 35 pitchers who have gone on to the professional ranks. Over the past 10 seasons, Rebel pitchers have accounted for 39 draft selections in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft – including fifth-overall pick Drew Pomeranz in 2010 and five pitchers who were taken in the top 100 picks of the 2005 Draft.
Bianco has also tutored 15 catchers that have gone on to sign professional contracts. In 2014, Will Allen became the most recent Rebel backstop to be drafted after Detroit selected him in the 13th round.
Bianco, 48, was born May 3, 1967, and is a native of Seminole, Fla. He is married to the former Camille Marquette, and the couple has five children: sons, Michael, Benjamin, Andrew, and Samuel, and one daughter, Catherine.
Bianco was inducted into the Indian River Community College Hall of Fame in 2003. He was also named to the All-Alex Box Omaha Era Team by LSU in 2008. In 2010, Bianco was inducted into the Seminole High School Hall of Fame.
Mike Clement joined the Ole Miss coaching staff for the 2015 season after spending the two seasons at Kansas State University. He currently serves as the team’s hitting coach and third base coach.
During his first year as the Rebels’ hitting coach, Clement helped lead the Rebels to the postseason after facing the nation’s toughest schedule during the regular season. Ole Miss broke out the bats to go 7-6 against top-10 teams, including 5-4 versus teams ranked No. 1 in the country. Ole Miss cracked double digits in runs nine different times, while recording 10-or-more hits in 22 games throughout the 2015 campaign.
In 2015, Clement worked with youthful Ole Miss bats while also continuing to develop the production of Rebels with experience in the lineup. With Clement’s guidance, junior college transfer Connor Cloyd earned his way into a starting role, hitting .369 over 38 games played in 2015. Freshman Will Golsan and sophomore Colby Bortles, two new starters in the Ole Miss infield, found success at the plate throughout the season as well. Golsan hit at a .290 clip in his first collegiate season, and Bortles proved he could produce in the middle of the order with a .281 average and 47 RBI.
Transitioning into his sophomore season, shortstop Errol Robinson maintained his production under Clement with a team-high 62 hits and a .297 average. In his first season at Ole Miss, Clement also saw Ole Miss senior slugger Sikes Orvis etch his name in the program record book. Orvis belted 16 home runs in his final season as a Rebel, the seventh-most in Ole Miss history, and added 17 doubles to help knock in a team-best 53 runs.
In two years as hitting coach at K-State, Clement made an immediate impact on the Wildcat offense, raising it to not only among the Big 12 Conference’s best, but also near the top of the national leaderboard.
Named the K-State hitting coach in July of 2012, Clement led the Wildcat offense to nation’s second-best batting average in 2013 while the team went on to capture the Big 12 title, host and win its first NCAA Regional, and come within one victory of the program making its first trip to the College World Series. In addition to a high national ranking in batting average, the Wildcats were also ranked in the top 10 nationally in six other categories, finishing fifth in hits (705), triples (28) and sacrifice flies (40), eighth in triples per game (0.44) and on-base percentage (.406), and 10th in hit-by-pitch (96). The Wildcats paced the Big 12 in each of those categories in addition to RBI (368) and steals (99).
In 2014, the Wildcats were second among Big 12 teams in OBP (.385), third in runs per game (5.8), and fourth in team batting average (.283). Nationally, K-State was 25th in OBP and tied for 18th in stolen bases.
Clement, a veteran coach with nine years of experience at the Division I level and strong recruiting ties in the state of Texas, tutored a pair of All-Americans, seven All-Big 12 performers, and four MLB draft picks who went on to play professionally. Ross Kivett, the Big 12′s Player of the Year in 2013, was one of seven hitters in Clement’s first year that earned All-Big 12 honors, a group that included six first team selections. Kivett joined fellow All-Big 12 First Team selection Jared King as the two Wildcats who also garnered All-American accolades in 2013. King went on to be selected in the fifth round of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets, which was the first time he had been drafted.
Kivett was also drafted in 2013, in the 10th round by the Cleveland Indians, but he elected to return for his senior season. The outfielder and second baseman received All-Big 12 honors once again while he was one of three hitters under Clement’s direction taken in the 2014 MLB Draft. Kivett was selected in the sixth round by the Detroit Tigers – the fourth hitter drafted in the sixth round or higher who had worked with Clement since 2006 – and Mitch Meyer and Austin Fisher were taken in the seventh and 13th round, respectively. In nine years at the Division I level, Clement has had 17 players get selected in the MLB Draft.
Prior to coming to K-State, Clement was on the staff at Texas A&M for three years after spending the previous four seasons at UTSA, including the final three as the team’s hitting coach. In addition to helping the Wildcats reach the Super Regional round in 2013, Clement has been a member of three other postseason teams, including a trip to the 2011 College World Series.
Texas A&M advanced to postseason play each year Clement was a part of the coaching staff. He helped guide the Aggies to both the Big 12 conference regular-season and postseason championship titles in 2011 on their way to a College World Series appearance. In 2010, Texas A&M won the Big 12 Championship and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Coral Gables Regional, while the Aggies hosted a NCAA Regional in 2012.
Clement helped direct an Aggie offense in 2012 that led the Big 12 and ranked fourth nationally with 129 steals. Also, Clement coached the Texas A&M infielders that saw its 2011 squad decrease its errors by 23 from the previous year and finish in the top 25 nationally with a .975 fielding percentage.
During his time at UTSA from 2006-09, Clement helped the Roadrunners accumulate a 144-81 overall record – including an impressive 84-40 mark in Southland Conference play – win two Southland Conference regular-season titles, tutor 16 hitters that earned All-Southland Conference honors and set 30 offensive school records. Additionally, UTSA saw its team batting average jump 32 points from .285 the year before he took over the offense to .317 during his final season, a mark that still stands as the school record.
In his final year as the hitting coach in San Antonio, Clement steered an offense that rewrote the record books as he helped the Roadrunners win a school-record 39 games. Along the way, UTSA set new highs in five offensive categories, including home runs, hits and batting average. UTSA finished in the top 25 nationally in triples (11th; 25), slugging percentage (20th; .532) and home runs (21st; 89), while the 2009 squad also stole 79 bases to rank third in school history, the most since a school-record 92 in 1999.
Clement tutored just the second All-American in UTSA history in Michael Rockett. The outfielder, who was a four-time All-Southland Conference performer, was drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by Detroit.
Prior to his stint at UTSA, Clement served as an assistant for one year at Kirkwood Junior College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and then spent one year at Loyola High School in Los Angeles. He was also an assistant coach for the Orleans Cardinals in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League in the summers of 2005 and 2006, including a Cape Cod Championship in 2005.
A former college catcher, Clement played two seasons at Kirkwood, helping the Eagles compile a 91-25 record. He finished his college career at Morningside, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education/secondary education in 2002. Following college, the Marshalltown, Iowa, native played professionally one season for the Canton Coyotes of the Frontier League.
Clement comes from a baseball background as his father, Brad, was a legendary head coach at Marshalltown (Iowa) High School, helping the Bobcats win three state championships before being inducted into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame. Clement’s younger brother, Jeff, was drafted in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft by the Seattle Mariners. The eight-year veteran spent time in the majors with Seattle and Pittsburgh before retiring prior to the start of the 2014 season.
Clement is married to the former Amanda Rosenberg of Kingwood, Texas.
Carl Lafferty begins his eighth season as a full-time assistant coach with the Rebels in 2015.
In his first year back working on the field as a volunteer assistant in 2007, Lafferty worked with the outfielders and catchers, and assisted with the hitters. Lafferty also served as the first base coach. In his time working with the outfielders, Lafferty helped develop Jordan Henry, the 2007 SEC Freshman of the Year selection and a Freshman All-America selection. He also worked with his brother, Justin, a ninth round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft.
Upon moving to a full-time position in 2008, Lafferty continued to work with the catchers, but also assumed duties assisting head coach Mike Bianco with the pitching staff before assuming duties as recruiting coordinator prior to the 2010 season.
In his first season as a full-time assistant, Lafferty tutored several players who went on to be drafted in the 2008 MLB Draft, including three pitchers taken in the first 75 picks – Lance Lynn (39), Cody Satterwhite (67) and Scott Bittle (75). Bittle earned First Team All-America honors. Lafferty also worked with catcher, Brett Basham, who earned SEC All-Defensive team honors and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round. Basham led the SEC in runners caught stealing and led all catchers in runners picked off.
Lynn went on to help the St. Louis Cardinals claim the 2011 World Series in his rookie season in the Major Leagues.
The trend continued in 2009 as the Rebels saw 11 players drafted, eight of whom worked under the direction of Lafferty. Six pitchers and two catchers were drafted in the 2009 season, including pitchers Scott Bittle (4th round – St. Louis), Nathan Baker (5th round – Pittsburgh), Brett Bukvich (18th round – Florida), Phillip Irwin (21st round – Pittsburgh), Aaron Barrett (27th round – Texas), Chris Corrigan (30th round – St. Louis), and catchers Brett Basham (50th round – San Diego) and Kyle Henson (39th round – San Francisco). The former catcher was also responsible for helping the Rebels claim the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship.
Lafferty continued to develop top pitching talent for the Rebels in 2010, guiding a pair of arms to All-America status. Junior southpaw Drew Pomeranz was named an All-America selection while freshman right-hander Brett Huber was named a Freshman All-America selection. Both pitchers also garnered All-SEC honors. Pomeranz also went on to be named the SEC Pitcher of the Year, the first in the history of the award for Ole Miss. A finalist for the National Pitcher of the Year and the Golden Spikes Award, Pomeranz was taken by the Cleveland Indians with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, becoming the highest drafted player in school history. He was one of four pitchers under Lafferty’s tutelage to be drafted in 2010.
He added to his list of players to go on and play professional ball in 2011 with the selection of four pitchers and a catcher in the MLB Draft. David Goforth (7th round – Milwaukee), Austin Wright (8th round – Philadelphia), Miles Hamblin (12th round – Houston), Matt Crouse (24th round – Detroit) and Matt Tracy (24th round – New York Yankees) were all drafted and signed to play professionally.
The number of pitchers to go on to the professional ranks after playing under Lafferty grew following the 2012 season when Dylan Chavez (14th round – Boston) and R.J. Hively (19th round – Arizona) were both selected in the MLB Draft.
The assistant coach continued to add to the list of players who moved on to the professional ranks under his tutaledge following the 2013 campaign when four of the five drafted players were pitchers, including third round pick Mike Mayers, fifth round pick Bobby Wahl and both seniors Tanner Bailey and Brett Huber.
Five more pitchers coached by Lafferty were drafted in 2014 with four going on to the professional ranks: Chris Ellis (3rd round – Angels), Josh Laxer (9th round – Detroit), Hawtin Buchanan (20th round – Seattle) and Aaron Greenwood (28th round – Houston). Christian Trent (29th round – Dodgers) was also drafted, but elected to return to the team.
In his time as a Rebel coach, Lafferty has worked to develop 24 pitchers who have gone on to the professional ranks – including four who have gone on to Major League careers.
Lafferty returned to Ole Miss in 2004 to complete his degree after having spent several years playing professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Lafferty earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology from the University of Mississippi in 2004.
He was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 20th round of the 2001 MLB Draft. After a short stint with the Marlins, Lafferty signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The catcher played two seasons (2002-03) with the Peoria Chiefs, a single-A affiliate of the Cardinals, and also played with the high-A affiliate, the Palm Beach Cardinals.
A native of Pine Bluff, Ark., he played for the Rebels from 1998-2001, finishing his career in the first year under current head coach Mike Bianco. A four-time letterwinner, Lafferty hit .307 for his career with 104 RBI. He also notched 42 extra-base hits, including 16 home runs.
As a senior, Lafferty was named to the All-SEC second team, becoming the schools 92nd All-SEC honoree in program history. Lafferty also served as team captain that season.
Lafferty is married to the former Lauren Nelson of Baldwyn, Miss. The couple has one child, William Carl Lafferty IV.
Marc MacMillan, a four-year letterman for the Ole Miss baseball team during the 1990s, is in his first season as a volunteer assistant coach at Ole Miss. Along with serving as the team’s first base coach, MacMillan will work with the outfielders and assist in coaching the hitters.
MacMillan spent the past two seasons as the Rebels’ director of operations. In that role, he was responsible for the daily operations of the program including planning team travel/meals, working with the program’s budget, dealing with equipment orders and acting as one of the program’s liaison to other members of the athletic department. MacMillan also directed the Diamond Girls, a group of female Ole Miss students who assist in gameday operations, as well as assisted with the directing of the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club.
Prior to returning to Ole Miss, MacMillan was the associate head coach at the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff. He spent three years at UAPB, working with the pitchers, infielders and base runners, while also coordinating the program’s recruiting efforts plus strength and conditioning programs.
In 2013, MacMillan coached a pitching staff that led the conference in ERA, helping lead UAPB to the program’s first SWAC Tournament appearance since the 2009 season. His recruiting classes stretched from coast-to-coast and aided UAPB’s back-to-back Western Division titles in 2014 and 2015. MacMillan’s recruits included Jordan Sechler, a 19th round draft pick of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves; Isias Alcantar, 2013 SWAC Player of the Year, first and second team All-SWAC selection, and 2014 34th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays; Andre Davis, first team All-SWAC selection and 2015 7th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals; and Kevin Walsh, first team All-SWAC and 2015 MLB 21st round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Prior to his time at UAPB, MacMillan served as the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach at the University of Arkansas – Monticello. Before his coaching stint at UAM, MacMillan served as the head coach at Crichton College. He also served as an associate scout for the Seattle Mariners and as head coach at Memphis University School.
MacMillan played for the Rebels from 1993-96 where was a utility player under head coach and All-American Donnie Kessinger. He was a part of the 1995 NCAA Regional team that won 40 games and fell to Florida State in the Regional Championship game with a berth in the College World Series on the line.
He earned a degree in Business Administration from Ole Miss before going on to earn a Master’s of Science in Sport Administration from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
MacMillan is married to the former Andrea Adams of Memphis, Tenn.
Ben Fleming enters his third season as the strength and conditioning coach for the Ole Miss baseball program after joining the staff prior to the start of the 2014 campaign. Fleming spent two years at Kansas State prior to joining the Rebels.
Over the past two years, Fleming worked with 13 baseball players who were chosen in the MLB Draft, including nine in 2014. Fleming is responsible for coordinating the annual Omaha Challenge, a series of challenges designed to test agility, strength, conditioning and dexterity. In every workout or team activity, he stresses the importance of toughness and giving 100 percent effort in order for the team to achieve success.
In his first season with Ole Miss, Fleming oversaw the strength and conditioning training for nine players who were selected in the MLB Draft – the most of any school in the nation. He also worked with a trio of All-America selections in catcher Will Allen, third baseman Austin Anderson and outfielder Auston Bousfield. The Rebels claimed the SEC Western Division title, finishing second in the overall standings, and advanced to the College World Series with a finish among the top four teams in the country after advancing to the national semifinals.
In his two seasons at Kansas State, Fleming aided in the development of six players who were drafted by Major League Baseball. He also trained the Wildcat team that claimed the 2013 Big 12 Championship and advanced to the program’s first-ever NCAA Super Regional.
Prior to his appointment at K-State, Fleming worked four years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at UCF where he supervised the strength programs for baseball, women’s basketball and women’s tennis. Additionally, Fleming assisted with the strength and conditioning of the football team.
In 2009, Fleming assisted the men’s golf team in winning the Conference USA and NCAA Regional Championships, while the Knights won the conference championship again in 2010. That same year, Fleming contributed to the success of his track and field team as it won the 2010 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. In 2011, Fleming was part of the UCF women’s basketball team that claimed the C-USA title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. That same season, the UCF baseball team also advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Fleming is a certified strength and conditioning coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) of which he is also a member. He holds a Level 1 coaching certification from USA Weightlifting as well as being Etcheberry Certified by Pat Etcheberry, one of the top tennis and golf strength and conditioning coaches in the world.
Fleming earned a Bachelor of Science in Parks and Recreation Administration from Wingate University, where he was also a member of the soccer team. In 2009, he earned a Master of Arts in Health/Wellness and Applied Exercise Physiology from UCF.
Fleming is married to the former Alexis Rodriguez, coordinator of guest services for Ole Miss Athletics.