CSUB

Thursday, May 29 2014 09:15 PM

JEFF EVANS: Kernen has change of heart, stays on at CSUB

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    By Nick Ellis / Special to The Californian

    Bill Kernen, who announced his retirement as CSUB baseball coach in early may, has decided to return to the Roadrunners next season.

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By JEFF EVANS, Californian columnist jevans@bakersfield.com

I must admit my surprise at Thursday's announcement that Bill Kernen had done an about-face and decided to put his coaching retirement on hold.

It was May 8 when the Cal State Bakersfield baseball coach -- who started the program from scratch after his hiring in 2007 -- said he was retiring to return to New York City and resume writing plays.

Kernen had authored several plays in the mid- to late-1990s when he left coaching and went to New York.

On May 8, there was no question in my mind Kernen was 100 percent certain of his decision to retire.

But looking at this after now, after his public admission that he changed his mind, one could see why he's coming back:

The one accomplishment that has eluded him was leading CSUB into the NCAA Tournament.

That almost happened in 2011 when the team came within an eyelash of gaining an at-large spot as an independent.

It almost happened in 2013 when the Runners reached the WAC Tournament finals in their first year in the WAC, only to be eliminated by Texas-San Antonio.

You never know what will happen from one year to the next, but on the surface, CSUB looks loaded for next season: most of the pitching staff returns and eight-of-nine position players are back.

Even this year, which was plagued by inconsistency, the team started clicking late in the season. The Runners won their first two games on the WAC Tournament, then lost two straight to end their season.

But CSUB went 1-1 in the tourney vs. Sacramento State, the WAC's regular season winner and WAC Tournament winner that enters the NCAA Tournament this week.

Should Kernen direct CSUB into its first NCAA Tournament berth next year, that could close the book on Kernen's coaching career. There are a lot of seniors projected to be on next season's team also. Kernen could want to finish up those players' careers as their coach.

It's being called a year-to-year arrangement. Basically, the CSUB baseball job is Kernen's as long as he wants it.

The New York theater scene will have to wait.

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