Mike Bell Introduced as Pitt Baseball Coach

Florida State assistant begins first head coaching gig

Josh Rowntree
July 13, 2018 - 3:19 pm
Mike Bell introduced as Pitt baseball coach

Josh Rowntree

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Mike Bell is ready to pour a heavy dose of confidence into the Pitt baseball program.

Bell was introduced Friday as the fifth head coach in Panthers history, replacing Joe Jordano, who resigned in June after 21 years in the position. 

Bell has an illustrious career as an assistant, including the last seven with Florida State as the associate coach and pitching coach.

“In an ideal world, you would find a coach that’s in it for all the right reasons and is filled with integrity and confidence and belief that we can build a national caliber baseball program here at Pitt,” athletic director Heather Lyke said. "We found that leader in Mike Bell.”

On top of discussing Bell’s successes in coaching, Lyke read off an email that Bell sent her after the interview, stating his passion and confidence in his ability to take Pitt to greater heights. 

Bell has been a part of three programs that have reached the College World Series, having made it at Florida State, as well as Tennessee and Oklahoma. He also coached at Florida Southern. 

Pitt will be his first role as a collegiate head coach. 

“It’s the steel city,” Bell said in his opening remarks. "We’re going to be a blue collar baseball team. We’re going to get after it.”

The decision by Bell to leave comes at an interesting time, as legendary Florida State coach Mike Martin is set to retire after this coming season. Bell is a Florida State graduate, who referred to the school as “home” and “family.”

“Understanding and knowing the landscape of college baseball and how strong the Atlantic Coast Conference is, this is a great opportunity for anybody,” he said. “This was the right time for Mike Bell and, more importantly, this was the right situation and right place."

Bell inherits a Pitt team coming off a 29-26 season that included an 11-19 ACC record, but had a surprising run to the ACC Tournament semifinals. He will also try to keep one of the program’s best incoming recruiting classes. 

“Obviously, there are some sharks in the water. Guys aren’t on campus yet and there’s always uncertainty. But, everything’s been positive moving forward... I expect to keep them all.”

Helping with that will be retention of pitching coach Jerry Oakes, thought of as one of the best recruiters in the ACC. 

“It’s great news,” said junior pitcher Chris Gomez, who was part of a committee that aided with the coaching search. “I’ve loved (Oakes) from the start. Everything he does from practice, the way he works, his philosophy. He literally gets the best out of every single player and it shows with all the draft picks that come out as pitchers."

Pitt is geographically at a disadvantage in the ACC, as it often does not get to play home games, due to weather, until over a month into its season. But, Bell does not think it will hinder his program.

“To think a team from the North can’t compete at the highest level in college baseball, the national champions this year were from Oregon State,” Bell said. "Washington was in Omaha. Last time I checked, geographically, we’re okay.

"I look at it as a blessing. We can be a gateway to the ACC.”

Bell is the seventh head coach hired by Lyke since she took the job in March of 2017. An eighth will follow soon when a replacement is selected for softball coach Holly Aprile, who accepted the Louisville job earlier this week.

Hear Mike Bell’s introductory press conference below.