BYU baseball

BYU baseball: Littlewood gives up moonlighting gig to go full-time at alma mater

2012-06-28T15:45:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:22Z BYU baseball: Littlewood gives up moonlighting gig to go full-time at alma materJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
June 28, 2012 3:45 pm  • 

Granted, the game was a bit of a stinker. Not close. Low scoring. Little drama.

But it was still the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, one of the great spectacles in college sports.

And Mike Littlewood gave up those chances to see such action in favor of BYU baseball.

The 48-year-old, a very successful coach at Dixie State College over the past 16 years, is now in Provo — and without need for a striped shirt and whistle — to take over a program that has reached a stagnant point.

"I was interested in this job once I heard it was open," Littlewood said. "And I knew that I would have to give up reffing. I'll miss getting the butterflies. It was as close to my playing days as I've gotten. And I'll miss the relationships with the other officials, because basically you're the only three people that everyone in the arena agrees about. You're not popular at all.

"It took me a couple of days to come to terms with it. But once I did, I just knew this was the right opportunity."

Coaching Division I baseball isn't exactly the most lucrative sport out there. The supplemental income from about a decade of doing Division I games, including around the Pac-12 Conference in recent years, helped make a very good living in St. George for Littlewood and his wife, Dani, who have four children that are all adults.

Littlewood joked that DSC officials were pleased that he had the moonlighting gig in the winter, because it helped on their efforts to manage the salary budget.

Littlewood, who played at BYU from 1985-88, compiled the most wins in Dixie State history (563-238; .702 winning percentage), while capturing eight league titles. His teams made four appearances in the National Junior College World Series, winning the national championship in 2004 and finishing runner-up in 2001. Littlewood was named National JUCO Coach of the Year in 2004.

Shortly after, the team made the transition to Division II, which meant whole new standards and a recruiting base. Littlewood said he didn't consider leaving, and enjoyed getting the team back into a nationally recognized status.

“He is passionate about baseball and his enthusiasm is contagious," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "Mike has been very successful at every level of coaching and we look forward to having him guide our baseball program.”

Littlewood is in the Pacific Northwest right now watching his son, Marcus, in professional baseball (rookie league) in Everett, Wash., with the Seattle Mariners farm system. He was a second-round pick in 2010 who signed for nearly a $1 million bonus according to Baseball America.

His immediate concerns, he said, are to more heavily involve former Cougar players and build upon talent level.

Vance Law, a former major leaguer and Cougar, was let go after 13 seasons. He went 397-347-2 with one NCAA Tournament bid, 2002.

Now, Littlewood has it as a full-time gig.

He joked that his wife will want him out of the house come November.

Told that perhaps he could work some BYU basketball scrimmages — head coach Dave Rose is an old DSC colleague — Littlewood laughed.

He has been part of seven NCAA Tournaments, including three NCAA Sweet 16 and two Elite 8 appearances.

"That may be the way to go," he said.

Littlewood estimated he did about a game a winter at the Marriott Center over the past 10 years in the officiating profession.

One standout involving his alma mater, however, came in Washington. Littlewood worked the November of 2005 Cougar win against Washington State in Spokane — Rose's first head coaching win at BYU.

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