Clint Myers is revered in Arizona State University athletic circles as one of the finest Sun Devils ever.
It’s easy to understand why he’s held in such high regard.
As a star catcher on three ASU baseball teams coached by the late Jim Brock, he led the Devils to College World Series national runner-up titles in 1972 and 1973.
After being drafted in the third round of the 1973 Major League Baseball draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Myers played three years in the pro ranks before returning to ASU to serve as an assistant to the legendary Brock. That season, the Devils finished third in the CWS.
In 2005, ASU athletic officials lured Myers back into the Sun Devil fold to reverse the fortunes of a sagging softball program that was playing second fiddle in the state to rival University of Arizona where coach Mike Candera had built a dynasty.
Most every ASU alumni knew Myers would have his work cut out for him, because the cupboard was bare in the Sun Devil softball kitchen.
The previous coach, Linda Wells, had success at ASU in her early years but as seasons wore on it was obvious a change was needed.
When Myers was offered the job, some questioned whether he could successfully lead a university softball program, because most all his coaching experience was in baseball.
In Myers’ first season, the Sun Devils struggled, finishing in the Pac-10 cellar with a 4-17 record.
In 2006, the Devils made dramatic improvement winning 35 of their first 38 games and then beating nine of the Pac-10 teams at least once.
A 4-2 win over Arizona in 10 innings was all the proof fans needed that Myers had the program on the right track.
The following season, the Sun Devils continued to show improvement, becoming a force in the Pac-10.
Among the signs that the Devils had become a force to reckon with was ASU’s three-game sweep of two-time defending national champion Arizona. Those wins set up ASU’s run to the 2008 National Championship.
Looking back, it was in Myers’ first meeting with the Sun Devil players — after he had won seven national championships on the junior college level — that he made the bold prediction that ASU would soon be celebrating its own national title.
True to his word, ASU won the coveted crown last spring with an 11-0 victory over Texas A&M in the championship finale.
Myers instills enthusiasm and confidence in his players, and in so doing, has revitalized a program that only three years earlier was largely unrecognized, wallowing in the depths of the Pac-10 and a team that couldn’t play on even terms with those hated opponents in Tucson.
But this season, ASU has become the defenders and no longer the pretenders.