Mainieri quickly gets to work

Published 7:09 pm Friday, July 7, 2006

Paul Mainieri is already hitting the recruiting trail.

Mainieri’s appointment as the new baseball coach at LSU will not be officially approved until later this month at the next meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors.

But Mainieri and his assistant coaches already are working to keep the players who have signed with LSU and attract new ones.

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Saturday was the first day that NCAA rules allowed college coaches to contact rising high school seniors.

Mainieri said he has found in his calls to recruits that some rekindling of excitement in the LSU program needs to take place. The Tigers failed to make the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1988 and haven’t been to the College World Series the last two seasons.

“I expected to find a little more enthusiasm in the kids,” Mainieri said. “We need to rebuild the image of the program, that where if LSU calls, a kid will count himself lucky again.”

Getting those who have already signed with the Tigers to become Tigers is another crucial task. Mainieri calls that and contacting returning varsity players his first priority.

Former LSU coach Smoke Laval signed 22 players scheduled to report for fall semester classes in August.

But in the gap between Laval’s dismissal June 4 and Mainieri’s hiring June 28, some recruits began to have second thoughts about playing for LSU. Mainieri didn’t say which recruits had decided to go elsewhere, but he is hopeful of convincing at least one to come to LSU anyway. Meanwhile, Mainieri’s two assistants who are following him from Notre Dame — Terry Rooney and Cliff Godwin — are already on the road trying to land some recruits who may have otherwise been passed over.