University of Tampa baseball head coach Joe Urso owns four national championship rings. He wears the most current bling, the 2013 version, which also happens to be the biggest ring.
Only on special occasions does Coach Urso wear a ring on each hand, maybe for a UT fundraiser or golf tournament -- but the goal? How about a ring for every finger, at least.
Joe Urso wins his 9th Conference Coach of the Year title. Baseball writers also name Urso the South Region Coach of the year and the National Coach of the Year.
The Spartans have won six NCAA Division II baseball titles. The defending champs play for a seventh from the loser's bracket after losing just their third game this season. This team believes in itself in large part due to players’ belief in their head coach.
"He's different, I can tell you that,” says junior shortstop Gio Alfonzo. "Coach says bunt, we bunt. Coach says steal, we steal. He puts the guy that he thinks is gonna win the situation into the game when he thinks it's right and we all buy into it.
Junior outfielder Stephen Dezzi agrees.
"He's the best coach I've played for,” Dezzi says. "If he is making a move, a decision, you trust him because you've seen it work so many times."
Joe Urso played four years in the Angels system, then managed Angels minor league and instructional league teams for three years. That's when Urso first met another Joe: Rays’ manager Joe Maddon.
"Doesn't surprise me that he turned out to be 'that guy'. He was very coachable. He listened extremely well," Maddon said. “I know he hung around me a little bit and the other guys back in the day there... I think we did do things a little bit differently, which I'm kind of proud of.”
Urso’s success is not a surprise to Maddon.
“So the fact that he's taken it here and he's been so successful, I love it, I absolutely love it! If you had been with him as a minor league instructor when he was a player, none of this would surprise you," Maddon said.
Win or lose, Joe Urso's name will be linked with the University of South Florida head coaching position and many other baseball coaching possibilities. But, Coach Urso insists he's loyal to UT, the team that keeps him in bling.
“You know, my family, we bleed Spartan red,” Urso said. "My boys, when they start hearing things in the news and in tweets they're like 'dad how can you do that to us?! We want to be Spartans forever!’ "
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