Hartleb won't waste time
You won’t usually find Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb in his office on a Tuesday morning in July. Whether he’s on the road recruiting or using the Illini’s offseason to get in some vacation time, it’s not guaranteed you’ll catch him at his desk.
But that’s where Hartleb was this Tuesday. The circumstances dictated it.
Word broke Monday night that longtime Illinois assistant Eric Snider had been named the new recruiting coordinator and hitting coach at Louisville.
The Cardinals made it official Tuesday morning. And Hartleb found himself with the beginnings of a coaching search — something the Illini haven’t had in three years after Drew Dickinson replaced Ken Westray as pitching coach.
“Eric’s done such a good job for us for a lot of years,” Hartleb said.
Snider just completed his 16th season with the Illini and sixth as associate head coach. “He’s taken on a lot of duties and done such a good job both on the field and off the field. There is a loss just from a continuity standpoint.
“At the same time, I’m really excited for Eric — a great opportunity for him (and) a way to upgrade his situation for him and his family.”
Snider will replace Chris Lemonis on Dan McDonnell’s staff at Louisville.
Lemonis was named the head coach at Indiana on July 2. Louisville finished last season 50-17 and advanced to the College World Series.
“They asked Coach Hartleb permission to contact me, and it’s just been crazy. I don’t even know when that was — seven, 10 days ago,” Snider said.
“You kind of go through things like this in the past. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don’t.
“I wouldn’t say I was expecting it, but when it happens, it happens really fast. It’s a great opportunity for me in my profession as well as a great opportunity for my family.
“It happened fast, but Dan McDonnell over at Louisville is a very well-respected baseball coach throughout the country. He’s built a powerhouse-type program. I know he talked to a lot of people, and I know he did his homework on me. I’m happy he chose me.”
That Snider got the opportunity from Louisville didn’t come as a surprise to Hartleb.
“Number one, as good a coach as he is, you know at some point he’s going to get an opportunity to improve his situation,” Hartleb said. “Eric has never been a person that’s actively gone out and pursued jobs because he’s been very happy here. This was a job that pursued him, an opportunity that pursued him, and it’s a great opportunity for him.”
Hartleb must now fill out his coaching staff. It’s a job he said he would like to have finished before his players return to campus.
“It’s an important time with recruiting season going on right now,” Hartleb said. “I want to have, hopefully, an opportunity to spend some time with the new coach just to go over our program and figure out what responsibilities are going to go to which coach.
“There’s a lot of things we need to get done. I would like to get it done in short order, but I’m not going to rush and put us in a bad situation.”
Part of the responsibilities Hartleb, Dickinson and the new assistant coach will have to dole out revolve around recruiting.
That was one of Snider’s strengths as a coach. He recruited four of the five highest-drafted position players in Illinois history — Chris Robinson, Lars Davis, Kyle Hudson and Brandon Wikoff — and also recruited three Big Ten Players of the Year, five All-Americans and seven Freshman All-Americans, including shortstop Adam Walton this past season.
Hartleb has been on the road recruiting but not as much as Snider or Dickinson. He said Dickinson has a good pool of names and that both coaches have solidified about three-fourths of next year’s class already.
“We’re also going to meet and go over a lot of different people that those guys have seen this year,” Hartleb said. “Eric understands that, ‘Hey, I’ve been working for Illinois,’ and we’ll go over all those lists and talk about how those players that he’s seen and that he thinks are players we think he should recruit could impact our program.”
Hartleb and the Illini could also end up recruiting against Snider soon.
“It’s just part of the process you go through in college athletics,” Hartleb said. “It’s something that happens when you have good people, and Eric’s as good a coach you can find in the country.”
Snider said it brought tears to his eyes thinking about leaving Illinois, the players he’s coached and the community he’s lived in for 16 years, but he said the Illini baseball program is in good hands and in good position to continue to succeed.
“We’re on a roll. We’ve been in (an NCAA) regional two out of four years,” Snider said. “We didn’t have any seniors last year position playerwise, and all our pitching is back. It’s a really bright future.”
Eric Snider’s career
Current Louisville assistant coach
2008-14 Illinois associate head coach
1999-2008 Illinois assistant coach
1995-98 Waterloo Bucks (Northwoods League) GM/head coach
1992-95 Austin Peay assistant coach
1992-93 Champaign County Colts (defunct Central Illinois Collegiate League) manager
1990-92 Iowa graduate assistant