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FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2007
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After 13 years, Wells leaves UA baseball
Tide coach, 52, tells school he’s retiring

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

TUSCALOOSA — Jim Wells, the most successful baseball coach in Alabama history, announced his retirement Thursday.

Wells, 52, coached the Crimson Tide for 13 seasons and compiled a 553-272 (.670) record.

“Over the course of the last week, I have had discussions with (athletics director Mal) Moore about leaving The University of Alabama,” Wells said.

“There comes a time in everyone’s career when they have to make decisions on what is best for all concerned.”

No replacement had been announced, though speculation is that Troy coach Bobby Pierce could be a front-runner. An Alabama alum, Pierce guided the Trojans to a 34-27 record and a No.3 seed in the Oxford Regional in the NCAA tournament. Pierce, 48, played at Alabama from 1980-81, where he was an All-SEC outfielder.

He also served as an assistant at the school from 1990 to 1994. From 1995 to 2002, he was the first baseball coach at The University of Alabama in Huntsville before taking the Troy job in 2003.

After winning the SEC West title in 2006, the 2007 season was a trying one for Wells. The team sputtered to a 31-26 overall record, 15-15 in conference.

The Tide won three of its final four series, taking two of three games from South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State to get into the SEC tournament. But the team lost consecutive games in Hoover and was ousted on the second day.

Alabama did not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004. The Tide also didn’t make it in 2001.

Those were the only seasons in Wells’ tenure at Alabama that the team did not make the NCAA tournament.

“It caught me by surprise,” said UAB baseball coach Brian Shoop.

Shoop added: “But it doesn’t shock me when coaches get out. The day the season ends, there is no down time. It just never stops.”

Wells led Alabama to six SEC tournament championships and three trips to the College World Series (1996, 1997 and 1999).

“I was saddened to hear of his wish to retire, but I completely understand and respect his reason for making this decision,” Moore said.

“After having several conversations with Jim over the last few days, it became evident to me that he feels strongly about this decision. I wish him the best in his future pursuits.”

Wells was as a finalist for the LSU coaching position after the 2006 season.

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