Paul Keyes says his job doesn’t put his business administration degree to much use.
That’s not quite true.
Keyes may not be a businessman in the traditional sense but his tenure as head baseball coach at Virginia Commonwealth University makes it clear that he knows the business of baseball.
Going into his 14th season in charge of the Rams, Keyes is only 22 victories away from 500 for his career. VCU is 478-289 under Keyes’ guidance. It has been to the NCAA tournament seven times in the past 10 seasons. Keyes is a three-time CAA coach of the year.
“Paul Keyes has built a baseball program at VCU that is second to none,” said Norwood T. Teague, VCU’s director of athletics. “He is a great teacher, recruiter and mentor to his players. It shows not only in the program’s winning legacy but in the loyalty of his alumni as well. With this foundation in place, under his leadership, I can see him taking the program to new heights in the future.”
Keyes, a 1984 graduate of Old Dominion University, sounds a little like a businessman when discussing his approach to coaching.
“I always felt I inherently had a pretty good idea of seeing things happen before they happen in games,” said Keyes, who earned a masters in sports administration from the University of Richmond in 1991.
|THE KEYES FILE
|Hometown: Newport News, Va.
|Birthdate: August 7, 1962
|Education: B.S., Old Dominon, 1984
|M.S, Richmond, 1991
|1984-85 Assistant Coach,
|1985-91 Assistant Coach,
|1991-94 Assistant Coach,
|1995-present Head Coach,
“To be a good coach and a good manager, you have to have that. You have to set your schedule, hire your people, work with them. You have to have a structure and then different systems to deal with the people and the levels you have to deal with. You have to have a good vision, be able to see the whole picture, and be able to adjust and fly by the seat of your pants a little bit.”
As an assistant at VCU starting in 1985, Keyes helped lay the groundwork for the program. He served as the pitching and defensive coach. In 1987, VCU went 25-22 for its first winning season in school history. The next year, the Rams made their first NCAA regional appearance. Keyes then went to Vanderbilt University as an assistant and helped the Commodores to an 89-77-2 record over three seasons.
Keyes returned to VCU as head coach in 1995. He became VCU’s winningest coach on May 4, 2003 when he picked up his 330th victory. The past 10 years have been particularly strong. VCU has won 389 games – 45 more than any Division I program in Virginia.
VCU has had 11 straight winning seasons and has won 40-plus games in four of those seasons. His success has been built at home. VCU rosters are always dotted with Richmond-area talent. Five players who were named player of the year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch ended up wearing a VCU uniform.
Seven players have earned All-America recognition in recent seasons – pitcher Matt Burch, shortstop Brandon Inge, pitcher/first baseman Jason Dubois, outfielder Matt Davis, third baseman Anthony Granato, pitcher Justin Orenduff and pitcher Cla Meredith.
Three players have earned freshman All-America honors, including outfielder/first baseman Jared Bolden in 2006.
“Our focuses have always been pitching, defense and speed,” Keyes said. “We base everything around speed. We always felt going into regionals, we could beat the larger football-playing schools because we could outspeed them. They can’t defense that. It’s worked well.”
This year figures to be more of the same style.
“I really like our pitching depth,” Keyes said. “We had a good young class last year and we’ve added another one. Like every team we’ve had, we’re going to try and pitch and play defense and try to pressure teams. We’ll try to mix the right guys in at the right time and try to be the best team we can be at the end of the year.”
Keyes is from Newport News, Va., and he played baseball while a student at Old Dominion. He and his wife, the former Trisha Parham, have three children: Paul Jr., MacKenzie and Kyle.