If anyone is discouraged by Penn baseball's recent losing streak, it certainly isn't Bob Seddon.
In a surprising move, the 70-year-old baseball coach signed a four-year extension over the weekend -- a dramatic change of heart for a man who had said that the 2005 season would be his last.
"I'm not ready to leave the game of baseball just yet," Seddon said. "And I've been so pleased with the progress we've made so far this season. I believe that we're ready to compete for the Ivy League title, if not this year, then certainly next year."
All this appears to leave Rowan coach John Cole, who had agreed to become the Quakers' coach next season, out on the street with a wife and two young children.
Certainly Athletic Director Steve Bilsky has some explaining to do.
"I'm totally shocked," Cole said. "You take a job on good faith, you don't sign a contract, and then they stab you in the back. That's what it feels like right now. It really doesn't say much for the institution, I'll tell you that."
Bilsky expressed remorse over the school's change of heart, but reiterated his commitment to Seddon, a coach who Bilsky says can stay at Penn for as long as he wants.
"Bob Seddon has been an institution at Penn," Bilsky said. "He deserves to go out on his own terms. And right now, 'Nine' is our past, our present, and our future.
"We never wanted to replace him in the first place. So when he came into my office last week with that big smile and told me he wanted to return for another four years, I was thrilled. It was a no-brainer."
As for Cole, Bilsky was adamant that the University does not owe him any compensation. According to Bilsky, he never signed Cole's contract.
And a source close to the athletic department told The Daily Pornsylvanian that Penn president Amy Gutmann, who signs off on all high-profile personnel decisions, was reluctant to agree to the contract.
Gutmann had reservations about Cole's track record and apparently wanted someone with more name recognition.
According to the source, Gutmann wanted Penn graduate and former major leaguer Doug Glanville. But Bilsky was unable to convince Glanville to give up his baseball career.
Glanville was released by the Yankees in spring training.
Despite the controversial nature of Penn's coaching carousel, the players greeted the news of Seddon's decision with excitement.
"He's like a father to me," senior outfielder Alex Blagojevich said. "Even though my career is ending at the end of the year, I'm so happy for the freshmen and sophomores that they're gonna have the opportunity to play for him all four years."
Classmate Nate Moffie shared those sentiments.
"I wish I could come back for a fifth year," Moffie said. "The amount of wisdom 'Nine' has is absolutely incredible. Just listening to him at third base, he's a coaching clinic."
Bilsky also announced plans to rename Murphy Field after the 2009 season, when Seddon's new contract expires. The field, just off of Interstate 76, will be renamed Bob Seddon Baseball Park.
"It's a great honor," Seddon said. "But the greatest honor is getting to come out and coach these kids everyday. I live for this."
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