TUCSON, Ariz. –The University of Arizona introduced Jay Johnson as its new head baseball coach Monday at Hi Corbett Field in a press conference with Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, who announced the hire Sunday. Johnson comes to Arizona after two accomplished seasons as the head coach at the University of Nevada.
“We were absolutely blown away by the interest and number of qualified candidates that inquired about our head baseball coaching position,” said UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. “As we narrowed our search and looked at who would be the best fit for the University of Arizona's baseball program, Jay Johnson's name kept rising to the top of the list. With Jay's combination of coaching acumen, attention to academics and ability to recruit and relate to today's college baseball player, we felt like he was the right person to lead our program. Arizona baseball is one of the nation's most accomplished programs and we believe Jay has all the tools to continue that lineage. We're excited to welcome Jay to the Wildcat Family and we look forward to watching him build on the storied past of Arizona baseball.”
In two seasons at Nevada, Johnson guided the Wolf Pack to a 72-42 record. In 2015, Nevada posted a 41-15 record and captured the school's first-ever Mountain West title with a 22-6 mark in league play. The Wolf Pack was ranked in the top 25 for much of the season and totaled a 13-1 record in series of at least three games. The 41 overall wins ranked second in program history.
“I am beyond humbled and grateful to be a part of Arizona baseball,” said Johnson. “To be associated with this program and what it has stood for over such a long period of time is a dream come true. I am so excited to get to work and build on the great tradition of this program and play a brand of baseball that our fans will be very proud of and excited to watch.”
The breakthrough campaign in 2015 garnered numerous postseason honors for Johnson and his players. Johnson was named Mountain West Coach of the Year, Trenton Brooks was named MW Tony Gwynn Player of the Year, Christian Stolo was named MW Pitcher of the Year, Cal Stevenson was named MW Co-Freshman of the Year and six other student-athletes were named to the 2015 All-Mountain West team. Additionally, Louisville Slugger named Austin Byler and junior Ryan Howell third-team All-Americans, while Stevenson was named to the freshman All-America team.
Under Johnson's exciting and competitive brand of baseball, fan support quickly grew for the Wolf Pack program, including the first sell out in program history on April 26. The 2015 club averaged 8.0 runs per game and batted .317 – both figures that ranked in the top five nationally. The pitching staff ranked second in the Mountain West in earned run average.
Before his stint at Nevada, Johnson was the associate head coach at the University of San Diego from 2006-13. Previously, he coached at Point Loma Nazarene, serving as an assistant from 2002-04. He then took over the program as the head coach in 2005 and led the Sea Lions to a 37-16 record.
While at San Diego, Johnson helped the Toreros make six trips to NCAA postseason (2006-08, ‘10, 2012-13) and capture four West Coast Conference titles in 2007, ‘08, ‘10 and ‘13. He coached the 2013 Dick Howser Award winner, which honors the college baseball player of the year, in third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant, a native of Las Vegas, was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.
Johnson served as USD's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped recruit USD's 2008 class, which was ranked number one in the nation by Baseball America. The Toreros 2010 recruiting class was ranked second in the nation. In six of eight seasons, the Toreros ranked first in the WCC in overall team hitting.
In 2007 and ‘08, the Toreros posted back-to-back 40-win seasons including a school record 44 in 2008. The 2012 squad recorded the third 40-win season in school history.
In his time at Point Loma Nazarene, Johnson led the Sea Lions to a No. 6 NAIA ranking and a 37-16 record in 2005. While an assistant in 2004, the team won a school-record 47 games and finished third at the NAIA World Series.
Johnson earned a degree in physical education at Point Loma Nazarene in 2001 and later acquired a master's degree in physical education at Azusa Pacific University.
Arizona is the nation's ninth-winningest college baseball program, having won 2,708 games all-time and four national championships. The Wildcats have made 37 postseason appearances, including 16 trips to the College World Series.
Johnson becomes the 16th head coach at Arizona, but only the seventh since 1922. He replaces Andy Lopez, who retired last month after a 14-year run with the Wildcats that produced a national championship in 2012.
Jay Johnson Coaching History • Nevada Head Coach (2014-15); 72-42 record • San Diego Associate Head Coach (2006-13) • Point Loma Nazarene Head Coach (2005); 37-16 record • Point Loma Nazarene Assistant Coach (2002-04)
Coaching Highlights • Led Nevada to 72-42 record last two seasons • 2015 Mountain West Coach of the Year • Led Nevada to 41 wins in 2015 (second-most in program history). • Won school's first-ever Mountain West Conference championship in 2015. • Wolf Pack players won the league's Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year & Freshman of Year accolades in 2015. • Two players garnered All-America honors and a third was named a freshman All-American in 2015. • Nevada finished 2015 top-five nationally in batting and scoring. • Wolf Pack drew first-ever home sellout in 2015. • Helped USD make six postseason trips from 2006-13. • Coached 2013 Dick Howser Award Winner Kris Bryant, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 draft and a current rising star for the Chicago Cubs. • Helped sign No. 1 recruiting class in 2008 and No. 2 class in 2010 at San Diego (Baseball America). • Led PLNU to a 37-16 record as head coach in 2005. Previously worked as an assistant and led program to NAIA World Series in 2004.
Arizona Baseball • Four-time national champions (1976, 1980, 1986, 2012) • 37 postseason appearances • 16 trips to the College World Series • No. 9 all-time for Division I victories (2,708) • Johnson becomes 16th head baseball coach in school history, but only the seventh since 1922.