Cincinnati at Wright State
April 2, 2013
Photos by Scott Reed/swohfootball.com
In 16 seasons at the University of Cincinnati, Brian Cleary has established himself as one of the top coaches in UC baseball history. After taking over a struggling program in 1997, Cleary has led the Bearcats to 412 wins in his career, breaking the school record for all-time wins previously owned by the legendary Glenn Sample.
Cleary has established a strong core of student-athletes due to his energy and passion to deliver a winning product for the university. He has upgraded the talent level within the program thanks to an emphasis on aggressive recruiting. With the influx of talent, Cleary has set his sights on taking the program to the NCAA Tournament after a 30-plus year absence.
Cleary has rebuilt a team that's poised to contend for BIG EAST championships. With the completion of the state-of-the-art Marge Schott Stadium and the signing of multiple top recruiting classes, the foundation has been built to allow Cincinnati to compete for BIG EAST Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances for years to come.
In his 16th season leading the Bearcats, Cleary became just the second head coach in program history to reach the 400-win plateau when UC defeated Chicago State 6-0 on March 10, 2012. He would later surpasse Sample on the school's all-time wins list with No. 405 after the Bearcats topped Ohio University 11-2 on April 3 in Athens, Ohio.
Despite the young 2012 Bearcats struggles in the win-loss column, three Bearcats - pitchers Zach Isler and Christian McElroy, and outfielder Jake Proctor - were taken in the Major League Baseball draft, while sophmore outfielder Justin Glass was named All-BIG EAST Conference First Team and ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Mideast Region Second Team. Glass was one of six players to finish the season fourth in the BIG EAST Conference in batting with a .366 average, while his 15 stolen bases were tied for 11th, while his 83 hits are 13th all-time in the UC single-season record book, and his 21 doubles were tied for fourth. Nationally, his double and hit totals ranked 15th and 23rd, respectively, in all of NCAA Division I baseball.
For the fourth consecutive year, UC advanced to the BIG EAST Championship in 2011 after tying for fourth place with a 14-13 conference record. The Bearcats' 30-27 overall record in 2011 marked their sixth straight non-losing season. The '11 campaign saw the development of several young players, highlighted by freshman DH Justin Glass and junior LF/C Braden Kline, who were named second and third-team All-BIG EAST selections, respectively, in their first full-time seasons. It also featured the further skill advancement of multiple veterans, such as seniors Justin Riddell and Dan Jensen. Riddell was named an All-BIG EAST First Team selection after finishing second in the conference in RBI. Jensen was one of the league's most dominant pitchers after finishing third in strikeouts on his was to being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Cincinnati produced back-to-back 29-29 overall records in 2009 and 2010, advancing to the conference tournament both seasons. Three Bearcats - Andrew Burkett, Brian Garman and Jimmy Jacquot - were named third-team All-BIG EAST honorees following the 2010 season. Burkett set the single-season school records for saves with 14. Freshman RHP Andrew Strenge was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American after setting the BIG EAST single-season record with a 0.62 ERA. Strenge finished 2010 as the league leader in conference-only play not only in ERA, but in opponents' batting average (.208), hits allowed (22), runs allowed (5), earned runs allowed (2), and walks allowed (1).
Regarded as one of the top coaches in country to develop hitters, Cleary has coached 43 position players that have either been drafted or signed as a free agents, only seven of which were drafted out of high school. One of those 43 players was Mike Spina, who cemented himself as one of the top hitters in Bearcats history in just two years of action. After breaking UC's single-season home run record and tying the program's single-season RBI record with 21 home runs and 79 RBI in 2008, Spina drove in 69 runs and broke his own single-season home runs record with 23 in 2009. Additionally, Spina ranks in the Top 10 in UC's career record books in slugging percentage (.703, 1st), home runs (44, 3rd), on-base percentage (.443, 4th), and RBI (148, 6th).
The fortunes of the Bearcats were never better in 2008 as Cleary's charges set a school record for wins in a season (39) and conference wins in a season (19). UC battled for the BIG EAST Regular Season Championship all year, finishing second in the standings and advancing to the Championship game of the postseason tournament. At the conclusion of the year, another mark was matched as four of Cleary's players were selected in the MLB Draft (Josh Harrison, Dan Osterbrock, Tony Campana and Mike Spina). None of those players were drafted out of high school.
The progression began to show dividends during the 2006 season as Cleary guided the Bearcats to their sixth 30-win season ever and first post-season appearance since 2001. Following the season, Logan Parker became the 11th draft pick in the Cleary era when the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 12th round of the MLB Draft.
The 2005 season brought an improvement of 10 victories from the year before, as the Bearcats finished the campaign with a 25-30 mark. The season concluded with Josh Kay and Mark Haske both being selected in the MLB Draft. Later in 2005, UC's recruiting class received honorable mention nationally from Collegiate Baseball magazine.
In 2001, UC garnered 34 wins, the second-most in school history, and went 16-11 in Conference USA to finish tied for third. That finish is the best ever by a Bearcat team in Conference USA. Kevin Youkilis was a third-team all-American and one of three Bearcats taken in the 2001 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Tony Maynard was named a freshman All-American, and Chris Hamblen was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top catcher in the nation. That season, Baseball America named Cleary one of the Top-10 coaches on the rise in Division I.
In 2000, the Bearcats won a school record 35 games and advanced to the finals of the C-USA Tournament. The squad also set four individual and eight school records.
The 1999 squad posted a breakthrough 30-29 season, shattering 17 individual and eight team records and finishing as the eighth most improved team in the nation (12-game improvement). The 30 wins marked just the third 30-win season in UC's 115 years of baseball and the first winning campaign since 1995.
Cleary made an immediate impact upon joining the Bearcat family. After inheriting a team that won only five games in 1996, Cleary pushed his teams to increased win totals each of his first four years. After winning 12 games in his first year, he increased that total to 15 in 1998, 30 in 1999 and 35 in 2000.
Alongside his experience on the collegiate level, Cleary has also served three stints coaching on the international level. Cleary coached the British National Team in the Baseball World Cup (2009 and 2012) and the European Championships (2007). During his time with the teams, Cleary served as an assistant coach and worked primarily with the pitchers, helping the squad capture a second-place finish at the European Championships in 2007 and a second-round appearance at the Baseball World Cup in 2009.
Cleary came to UC after three seasons at Tulane, where he helped the Green Wave to a 116-70 mark and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Cleary's efforts as an associate head coach, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator helped Tulane to the 1996 C-USA championship and a top-25 national ranking. In addition to his duties as recruiting coordinator, Cleary coached the hitters, infielders and baserunners and served as the team's third-base coach.
A 1990 graduate of Fairfield University, Cleary, a native of Boca Raton, Fla. earned four letters and was a two-time Metro Atlantic Conference All-Academic team pick.
The Brian Cleary Recruiting Philosophy Brian Cleary's recruiting philosophy is simple. Start by keeping the best local talent at home. During Cleary's tenure, he has aggressively recruited the area and his energy and passion for UC baseball has rubbed off on recruits who want to play for their hometown team. Of the local products that have played at Cincinnati, nine have gone on to play professionally. Former Bearcats and local products Jake Proctor (Minnesota Twins), Lance Durham (Toronto Blue Jays), Tony Campana (Chicago Cubs), Josh Harrison (Pittsburgh Pirates), Curtus Moak (Cincinnati Reds/Oakland A's), Chris Hamblen (Texas Rangers), Dan Osterbrock (Minnesota Twins), Steve Pickerell (Tampa Bay Devils Rays), Matt Singer (New York Yankees), and Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox) have all played minor league baseball in various organizations in recent years. Youkilis has achieved success in Major League Baseball, winning two World Series titles and playing in two All-Star games, while Campana and Harrison both made their MLB debuts in 2011.
From there, Cleary attracts top players from across the country, including Mike Spina (Newberry, Fla./Oakland A's), Josh Kay (Park Ridge, Ill./Oakland A's), Mark Haske (Fairgrove, Minn./Detroit Tigers) and Logan Parker (Odessa, Texas/Cincinnati Reds) who have all been selected in the last six MLB drafts. Cleary's first three recruiting classes were ranked among the best in the nation by Collegiate Baseball magazine, the only program in Ohio so honored. His most recent efforts recruting the 2012 class were tabbed by Baseball America as a top class in the Upper Midwest/Great Plains Region.
Career Record:412-497-1 overall, same at Cincinnati.
Playing experience: Fairfield (1987-90), four-time letterwinner; two-time Metro Atlantic Conference All-Academic selection.
Personal: Married, wife Valerie; children Kevin (15), Michael (13) and Kaelin (11).
Cleary's Year-by-Year Coaching Record
Year School Position Record 1991Louisville Assistant Coach 32-30 1992 Notre Dame Assistant Coach 48-15 1993 Notre Dame Assistant Coach 46-16 1994 Tulane Assistant Coach 41-24 1995 Tulane Associate Head Coach32-26 1996 Tulane Associate Head Coach43-20 ------------------------------------------------------
1997 Cincinnati Head Coach 12-46 1998 Cincinnati Head Coach 15-38 1999 Cincinnati Head Coach 30-29 2000 Cincinnati Head Coach 35-25 2001 Cincinnati Head Coach 34-24 2002 Cincinnati Head Coach 26-29-1 2003 Cincinnati Head Coach 15-39 2004 Cincinnati Head Coach 15-40 2005 Cincinnati Head Coach 25-30 2006 Cincinnati Head Coach 32-26 2007 Cincinnati Head Coach 28-28 2008 Cincinnati Head Coach 39-20 2009 Cincinnati Head Coach29-29 2010 Cincinnati Head Coach 29-29 2011 Cincinnati Head Coach 30-27 2012 Cincinnati Head Coach 18-38 Total412-497-1