DURHAM, N.C.?Nebraska?s Dave Van Horn became the first coach from a Big 12 Conference school to win Baseball America?s Coach of the Year award, announced Tuesday by the baseball publication. Van Horn, 40, led the Huskers to their first-ever trip to the College World Series. In just his fourth season, Van Horn has turned Nebraska from a Midwest also-ran into a national power. The Huskers have won three straight Big 12 tournament championships, won their first regular-season crown since 1950 and finished the season ranked sixth at 50-16. They also achieved their first-ever No. 1 ranking, occupying the top spot for two weeks during the season.
?Its one of those things you don?t expect in your lifetime,? Van Horn said. ?Its a little humbling, but when you start to talk about the coaches who have been around and who have won this, they are all guys I have idolized. Its a great honor.
?To me, it is a staff award. It?s a credit to the coaching staff and players,? Van Horn said.
Van Horn came to Nebraska in January 1998, and immediately instilled a new attitude in Lincoln, an ambitious plan to become a Midwest power.
?When I came here, they just didn?t think they could win, and I didn?t think there was enough discipline for them to win,? he said. ?We had to change that, and we had to get better players.?
Previously, Van Horn coached at Northwestern (La.) State, where he won two Southland Conference regular-season titles. Van Horn also won a Division II national championship in one season at Central Missouri State after stints as an assistant at his alma mater, Arkansas, and a five-season stay as head coach at Texarkana Community College.
Van Horn?s turnaround helped lead Nebraska to join with the city of Lincoln and a new professional team, the Lincoln Saltdogs of the independent Northern League, to build a new ballpark. The $32 million Haymarket Park opened in June 2001 with a seating capacity of 4,500.
The last coach of a Midwestern school to win the Coach of the Year award was Wichita State?s Gene Stephenson in 1993. Van Horn is the second coach from the state of Nebraska to win the award, joining Creighton?s Jim Hendry (now the Chicago Cubs? assistant general manager), who won it in 1991.
COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
1981?Ron Fraser, Miami
1982?Gene Stephenson, Wichita State
1983?Barry Shollenberger, Alabama
1984?Augie Garrido, Cal State Fullerton
1985?Ron Polk, Mississippi State
1986?Skip Bertman, Louisiana State and Dave Snow, Loyola Marymount
1987?Mark Marquess, Stanford
1988?Jim Brock, Arizona State
1989?Dave Snow, Long Beach State
1990?Steve Webber, Georgia
1991?Jim Hendry, Creighton
1992?Andy Lopez, Pepperdine
1993?Gene Stephenson, Wichita State
1994?Jim Morris, Miami
1995?Rod Delmonico, Tennessee
1996?Skip Bertman, Louisiana State
1997?Jim Wells, Alabama
1998?Pat Murphy, Arizona State
1999?Wayne Graham, Rice
2000?Ray Tanner, South Carolina
2001?Dave Van Horn, Nebraska
Dave Van Horn Bio
Dave Van Horn has emerged as one of the nation?s top coaches in his four seasons at the University of Nebraska. Hired in January of 1998, Van Horn has guided Nebraska from the depths of the conference standings before his arrival (10th in 1997), to its best two seasons in the 112-year history.
In 2001, the Huskers claimed the first College World Series berth in school history with their first NCAA Super Regional title and its second straight NCAA Regional crown. The Huskers? finished with a 50-16 record - their second straight 50-win season - and only the second in school history. The Huskers also captured their first regular-season conference crown since 1950 with a 20-8 mark in Big 12 play. With a third consecutive Big 12 Tournament title, Nebraska also became the first team to win Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles in the same season, as Van Horn earned Big 12 Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors before his selection as NCAA Coach of the Year by Baseball America. Four of his players (Shane Komine, John Cole, Dan Johnson and Matt Hopper) earned first-team All-America recognition by at least one publication this season, while Cole (first-team) and Jeff Leise (second-team) both earned Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition.
In 2000, Van Horn led Nebraska to a school-record 51 victories, its second straight Big 12 Tournament title and its first NCAA Regional title before falling one game shy of the College World Series. The Huskers finished with a 51-17 overall record and a second-place finish in the Big 12 regular-season race - its best regular-season league finish since 1982 - before guiding NU through the losers? bracket to a second straight Big 12 Tournament title. For his efforts, he was chosen as the ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year.
Van Horn has led Nebraska to three straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history and owns a 10-6 NCAA mark at Nebraska. He has also posted a 13-1 mark in three years of Big 12 Tournament play, including nine straight wins in Oklahoma City. Nebraska?s 2001 regular-season conference title marks just the second time since 1982 that a Big 12 North Division team has won a Big Eight/Big 12 crown, joining Missouri?s Big Eight championship in 1996.
Despite being hired just 35 days before the 1998 season, Van Horn led NU to a 24-20 finish and a seventh-place Big 12 finish in his inaugural season. Since then, he has guided the Huskers to three consecutive NCAA appearances, the first time the feat has been accomplished at Nebraska. The Huskers not only qualified for the Big 12 Tournament in 1999, but won the tournament championship, marking the school?s first conference title of any kind since 1950. Nebraska finished with a 42-18 record, and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 14 seasons.
In 13 seasons as a head coach, Van Horn has a career record of 538-219 (.711) including a record of 167-71 (.702) in his fourth season at Nebraska. He coached three seasons at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. (1995-97), compiling a 106-65 (.620) record. Before coaching for the Demons, he led Central Missouri State to a 51-11 record and the NCAA Division II national title in 1994, his only year at the school.
Before becoming a head coach, Van Horn was an assistant coach for three seasons at Arkansas, helping the Razorbacks to two College World Series appearances (1985 and 1987). On the field, he was just as impressive, earning All-Southwest Conference honors as an infielder for the Razorbacks. He was the team?s MVP and was drafted in the 10th round of the 1982 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, spending three seasons in the organization.