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Alexander: Word on the street? Percival’s on hot seat

By in Press Enterprise on February 10, 2018

By Jim Alexander

RIVERSIDE — Four seasons into his UC Riverside tenure, Troy Percival has the college baseball bug. Even if a big league organization were to offer an organizational spot, the guy who finished off the Angels’ only World Series championship sounds like he’d rather continue working with undergraduates.

It would be a shame if that opportunity to do so in his hometown and at his alma mater were snatched away.

Yet for those who still care about UCR athletics, that is the rumor that won’t quit.

Percival is perceived as being very much on the hot seat as his fourth season at UCR is about to begin, starting Friday in Tempe, Ariz., with a weekend series of two games each against Washington State and Nebraska, the latter coached by his former Angels teammate, Darin Erstad.

Speculation has swirled throughout the community that athletic director Tamica Smith Jones — who fired basketball coach Dennis Cutts right before the start of Big West play — is targeting the leader of the school’s other high profile men’s sport.

Percival himself takes a diplomatic approach, saying simply: “I’m in the last year of my contract. It has been addressed, but nothing has been done.”

Jones, responding to an email request for comment or clarification, wrote:

“I am pleased with the way Coach Percival is positively changing the trajectory of our baseball program not just on the field but our young men are focused, vibrant and doing well in the classroom. In addition, baseball has a strong base of alums working in unison to give back to the program, which tremendously helps coach and the team get better each year.”

She mentioned a recruiting class ranked in the nation’s top 35 by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, one that includes three players who could have an immediate impact: Pitcher Cole Percival (Riverside Poly), […]    

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