EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jake Boss Jr., who in his first season at Eastern Michigan led the Eagles to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, has been named Michigan State University’s 16th head baseball coach. Boss, the 2008 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, will be formally introduced by MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis at a press conference Wednesday.
In just one season as head coach, Boss made an immediate impact at Eastern Michigan, guiding the Eagles to their second consecutive MAC West Division crown and first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003. The Eagles swept through the MAC Tournament, winning all four games by a combined 21 runs, to notch the school’s fourth tournament title. The conference title capped a remarkable turnaround, as Eastern Michigan - picked to finish fifth in the division - closed the season on a hot streak, claiming 25 of 40 games and earning a berth in the NCAA field.
For his efforts, Boss was selected the 2008 MAC Coach of the Year and made history by becoming just the second coach in league history to win the MAC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament in his first season. Overall, the Eagles finished the season 15-8 in conference play and 25-32 overall. The Eagles were one of the top offensive teams in the MAC, ranking among the league leaders in hits (third with 615), home runs (fourth with 64), runs (fourth with 300) and RBI (fifth with 372).
Two Eagles, Josh Ivan and Matt Shoemaker, garnered All-MAC honors, while four players were named to the all-tournament team, including true freshman and tournament MVP Zach Leonard. In addition, four student-athletes were recognized on the Academic All-MAC team, second most of any school in the conference.
A native of Lansing, Boss is no stranger to postseason play, as he has coached in the past four NCAA Tournaments and five of the last six. Prior to being named head coach at Eastern Michigan, he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Michigan from 2004-07, as the Wolverines made NCAA Regional appearances all three seasons. Boss was a member of the staff that led the Wolverines to three straight 40-win campaigns, with a 42-19 record in 2005, a 43-21 mark in 2006 and a 42-19 finish in 2007. Michigan won the 2006 and 2007 Big Ten regular-season titles, and claimed an NCAA Regional title in 2007 by upsetting top-seeded Vanderbilt to advance to the school’s first-ever Super Regional.
"As Michigan State University prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary of Spartan Athletics and the sport of baseball, the selection of Jake Boss Jr. as its head coach could not come at a better time," said MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis. "Jake is committed to winning with integrity and understands the entire scope and impact Spartan baseball has on our community and the state of Michigan. He is committed to getting the best out of his student-athletes whether they are on the field, in the classroom, or preparing them to becoming contributing members of our society.
"Through his actions, Jake has earned the respect of high school and youth coaches, professional scouts, current and former players, and most everyone he comes into contact with. He has prepared himself well for this position and has enjoyed success as both an assistant and head coach. Most importantly, he wants to be a Spartan - today and from this point forward, he is a Spartan.
"The combination of naming Jake Boss as our head coach, the completion of our indoor pitching and hitting facility, and immediate construction of a 2,500-seat baseball stadium demonstrates the commitment that our university and department have for our baseball program."
"I am extremely honored and humbled to be named the head baseball coach at Michigan State University," said Boss. "When I started coaching at the collegiate level 13 years ago, my goal was to come back to East Lansing as head coach of the Spartan baseball program, and I am very excited for this opportunity.
"I firmly believe Michigan State baseball is in a current position that will allow for success for years to come. The players that we have in place, combined with the new stadium project which will be finished for the 2009 season, have created an excitement around the program with significant momentum as we move into a new era of Spartan baseball.
"I believe in order to be successful and develop our players throughout their careers, we will focus on four main areas in each of their lives: academics and the effort to learn and graduate; character on and off the field; team philosophy and the effort and will to win; and career goals both at Michigan State University and beyond. Our players will play hard, compete, and most importantly, trust each other to be successful. We will build our program on relationships and a family atmosphere throughout our team consisting of both current and former players. I welcome the opportunity and I’m excited to get to work."
In addition to serving as the recruiting coordinator at Michigan, Boss handled the outfielders, catchers and assisted with the hitters. Boss mentored Wolverine catcher Jeff Kunkel, who was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year Award in 2006. In addition, Michigan hit over .300 as a team all three of his years in Ann Arbor.
The 37-year old Boss was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan for seven seasons (1997-2004) before coaching in Ann Arbor. During his stint as an assistant in Ypsilanti, Boss helped the Eagles to back-to-back MAC West Division championships in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, the Eagles also won the conference tournament title while advancing to the NCAA Regional. Working mostly with catchers, infielders and hitters, the Eagles set several team records under Boss’ direction, including home runs with 95 in 2002. The 2002 squad ranked ninth in the nation in homers and 10th in slugging percentage.
Throughout his career, Boss has worked with 27 players who have advanced to the professional ranks, including 2004 All-American and second-round draftee Brian Bixler, who is currently on the 40-man roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Boss has coached 23 players who have been drafted since his first Division I coaching job at EMU and has tutored eight All-Americans.
Boss began his collegiate coaching career in 1996 and 1997 as an assistant baseball coach at Iowa Central Community College in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. Both seasons the team advanced to the NJCAA World Series, including a runner-up finish in 1997. While at ICCC, he worked with three All-Americans, coached the catchers and outfielders and oversaw the academic services of the baseball team. He also served as an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves organization in 1996-97.
Boss started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Lakeview (Mich.) High School in 1994 before being named the head coach at Webberville (Mich.) High School in 1995.
Boss, who played baseball at Alma from 1989-93, earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1993. He completed his master’s degree in physical education from Eastern Michigan in 2000.
An accomplished writer, Boss was co-author of a book, Dare to Hit .400, in the spring of 1998. He has been a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association since 1995.
Boss and his wife, Cheryl (Schiff), have a daughter, Abigail, and a son, Jacob. The couple anticipates the arrival of their third child sometime next week.
THE JAKE BOSS JR. FILE
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: Assistant Coach at Lakeview (Mich.) High School (1994); Head Coach at Webberville (Mich.) High School (1995); Assistant Coach at Iowa Central Community College (1996-97); Assistant Coach at Eastern Michigan (1997-2004); Assistant Coach at Michigan (2005-07); Head Coach at Eastern Michigan (2008).
COACHING RECORD: 25-32 (.438) in one year as a head coach at Eastern Michigan.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in English from Alma in 1993; master’s degree in physical education from Eastern Michigan in 2000.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: Four-year letterwinner at Alma (1989-93).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Head Coach - 2008 NCAA Regionals; Assistant Coach - 2003, 2005, 2006 NCAA Regionals, 2007 NCAA Super Regionals; 1996, 1997 NJCAA World Series.