BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood leaves door open to return to athletics after resignation that shocked former gamers

Littlewood provides first public feedback after abruptly resigning from this system he coached for a decade

Jaren Wilkey | BYU BYU Baseball takes on San Diego on April 8, 2016.

BYU head baseball coach Mike Littlewood abruptly resigned Monday, however the Cougars’ longtime chief says he’s solely taking a “short break” earlier than discovering his subsequent cease.

“Coaching Division I baseball pulls you in a lot of different directions,” Littlewood informed The Salt Lake Tribune. “It was time for me to take a step back and find some balance in my life. I love every one of my players like my own sons, and the coaching staff like my own brothers.

“I will be watching them closely and hoping for their success. For me, I will start a new chapter of my life after a short break and see where that takes me.”

Littlewood had been the Cougars’ coach since 2012. His resolution to stroll away from a 17-12 staff after a decade on the job shocked many with ties to BYU baseball.

BYU and Littlewood elected to not touch upon the rationale of his departure, aside from saying “personal reasons.” The timing and vagueness prompted concern and disbelief amongst a few of Littlewood’s former gamers.

Former BYU pitcher, and present Chicago Cub, Michael Rucker was in a staff lodge in Pittsburgh when his father texted him out of the blue with the information of Littlewood’s resignation.

“It didn’t take long for Twitter to pump the news out there,” Rucker mentioned. “But hearing it was shocking to say the least. He was an incredible coach.”

Rucker reached out to Littlewood within the hours after the announcement. He was involved on some degree, noting that “personal reasons” may have meant something.

“You hope that it’s not bad news,” Rucker mentioned.

Riley Gates, one other BYU pitcher from 2015-19, additionally exchanged messages along with his former coach. Neither Rucker nor Gates mentioned they know precisely why Littlewood stepped away. But they’re additionally making an attempt to sift by way of their very own emotions.

“He meant so much to me,” mentioned Gates, who made 56 appearances for the Cougars. “We support him through this. I appreciate [him] believing in me. … He loves baseball. So whatever is going on internally with him and his family, for him to leave baseball, I’m sure it’s not easy. My heart goes out to his family and anyone that is dealing with his situation.”

Littlewood took over at BYU in 2012, profitable three regular-season convention championships. When he began, the Cougars had simply entered the West Coast Conference and had been close to the underside of the standings. By 2017, Littlewood guided this system to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.

In simply over 9 seasons, he went 255-199.

Many gamers have equated Littlewood’s legacy with constructing the cultural basis of BYU because it heads into the Big 12. Culture was typically a buzzword throughout Littlewood’s tenure. So a lot in order that in 2018, after a dropping season, Littlewood cleaned home by lopping off 30% of his roster.

He was rewarded in 2019 with a regular-season convention title, however had two dropping seasons since.

“It has nothing to do with on-the-field stuff,” Littlewood mentioned final month on BYUtv. “We have talked about culture. Nobody can really define what culture is, but you can feel it. This team has it.”

For the gamers, this information has been tough for causes past baseball. Adam Law, a shortstop on Littlewood’s first staff, talked concerning the relationship he constructed with Littlewood.

Law is the son of Vance Law, BYU’s baseball coach earlier than Littlewood. When the brand new teaching workers got here in, Littlewood had Law batting third within the lineup and shepherding the center infield.

When Law performed professionally, Littlewood typically despatched him tools when needed and watched movie of his at-bats. It wasn’t unusual for Law to get a textual content from his former coach with suggestions properly after he ended his profession in 2013.

“It would have been really easy for [him] to write me off and just be like, ‘I’m starting fresh. We don’t need any more Law’s in the program,’” Law mentioned. “But he gave me a fair shot. He became a semi-father figure to me. He also put the program back on the map.”

But earlier than diving deeper into his legacy, gamers are ready to listen to what occurred and what comes subsequent for Littlewood. And proper now, Littlewood doesn’t have a agency reply.

“I really haven’t thought that far ahead,” Littlewood mentioned. “But I would assume I’ll be in athletics in some capacity.”

Editor’s word • This story is on the market to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers solely. Thank you for supporting native journalism.

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