ACC Conversation: Jim Morris

Jim Morris is arguably the most decorated baseball coach to ever come through the ACC. His 1,482 wins rank him eighth overall on the all-time wins list in NCAA baseball history. Not to mention, Morris and his Hurricanes won the College World Series in 1999 and 2001.

Growing up in Greensboro and attending Elon University in North Carolina, Jim Morris has ACC blood running through his veins. Maybe that explains his infatuation with the ACC Baseball Championship being held in the Triad area.

"I went to Smith High School in Greensboro so I grew up in ACC country," Morris reflects. "I think the ACC should find one spot and develop the tournament. Center location is important. Not an advantage for the U, however."

Coach Morris may have just gotten his wish. The city of Durham is set to host the ACC Baseball Championship through 2018. The combination of a central location and the newly implemented pool play system will make the ACC Baseball Championship very favorable for most coaches.

"I like the pool system because it helps you get ready for the NCAA Tournament. It's also better for TV and attendance," Coach Morris said.

Although the pool play system may confuse some fans, it's reassuring to hear the approval from someone who has coached college baseball for 40 years.

Jim Morris began his coaching career in 1975 as an assistant at Appalachian State in Boone, NC. The following year, Morris took a head coaching position at a small community college in Atlanta called DeKalb. He literally built the program from scratch as DeKalb hosted no field and fostered no players.

Coach Morris moved on to become an assistant at Florida State in 1980. After a short two-year stint with the Seminoles, he moved back to Atlanta to become the head coach of a struggling Georgia Tech program.

At Georgia Tech, Morris was the all-time leader in coaching victories, had 12 straight winning seasons, nine straight NCAA regional berths, four straight ACC titles (1985-88) and three ACC Coach of the Year awards.

In 1994, Coach Morris took over the Miami Hurricanes and never looked back. Although Miami wasn't part of the ACC at the time, Morris has been in the conference for 23 years now. He believes the ACC has only gotten harder since he was Georgia Tech's head coach in 1982.

"With the expansion of the ACC since I left Georgia Tech, there is no comparison," Morris commented about the current state of ACC baseball.

"The ACC is so tough from top to bottom. A good example is Virginia; The Cavs were fighting to get into the ACC Tournament and now they're hosting a Super Regional."

Despite the difficulty of conference play, no other program has qualified for the College World Series as often as the Canes. Miami, which has qualified for the NCAA Tournament a record 43 straight years, has made it to Omaha in 11 of Morris' 21 seasons in Coral Gables.

Despite all of this consistent success, the Hurricanes haven't been back to Omaha since 2008. Coach Morris believes this year's team is different.

"This may be our most balanced team since 2008. I feel like we can win with offense, defense and pitching,Morris stated.

He may just have a point; Miami does lead the ACC in pretty much every offensive category you could think of. Fostering just four seniors compared to 12 freshmen, the Canes present a great combination of power and speed.

Critics may question Miami's power in correlation to making a run through Omaha. Since the NCAA dialed back the aluminum bats and moved the CWS to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011, home run numbers have been exponentially down.

In fact, according to Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald, the CWS produces about 43 percent fewer homers than the regular season. Games in Omaha only produce about 0.25 homeruns per game.

With power players like David Thompson (19 HRs) and Zack Collins (15 HRs), there may be slight concern about a potential lack of power in Omaha and how that may translate to Miami's success. Coach Morris is not one of those concerned.

"I don't really feel like our offense is based on home runs,Morris commented. "Our park is a very fair park so I hope to see how our team can do in Omaha."

"You've got to win with who you take to the dance. Find a way," Morris said.

Miami continues their road to Omaha today against VCU. The Canes will also play the Rams tomorrow at noon in Coral Gables.