Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Smoke Laval

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Sport(s)  Baseball
1974–1975  Gulf Coast CC
Positions  Catcher
Record  165–117

Team  North Florida Ospreys
Name  Smoke Laval
Title  Head coach
1976–1977  Jacksonville
Smoke Laval imagecdnllnwnlxosnetworkcompics23200BTBTXNY
Born  December 20, 1955 (age 60) McDonald, Pennsylvania (1955-12-20)

Education  Gulf Coast State College
Conference  Atlantic Sun Conference

Raymond Peter "Smoke" Laval (born December 20, 1955) is an American college baseball coach who was the head coach of the University of North Florida Ospreys. He is a former head coach of the Louisiana State University Tigers and the University of Louisiana at Monroe Indians baseball teams. He has led his teams to two College World Series, five conference championships, and seven NCAA Division I Baseball Championship appearances, and has received a number of coaching awards.


Smoke Laval imagecdnllnwnlxosnetworkcompics23400BTBTXNY

Early life and career

Smoke Laval ExLSU baseball coach Smoke Laval fired by North Florida after 7

Laval was born in McDonald, Pennsylvania. He enrolled at Gulf Coast Community College in 1974, where he played catcher on the college baseball team. He transferred to Jacksonville University in 1976, playing for the Jacksonville Dolphins baseball team.

Smoke Laval Competitive fire still burns brightly for North Florida head coach

After college he served in a variety of assistant coaching positions at Jacksonville, Wolfson High School, Louisiana State University, Gulf Coast Community College, and the University of Florida from 1977 to 1983. In 1984 he took a longer term assistant position with the LSU Tigers baseball team under the legendary coach Skip Bertman. During that time the LSU program became one of the best in the nation winning two National Championships (1991 & 1993). As a result of the success at LSU, Laval was offered the head coaching position at nearby University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1993.

Northeast Louisiana/Louisiana–Monroe

Smoke Laval Laval Addresses Media in SEC Tournament Teleconference LSUsports

Laval became head coach of the Northeast Louisiana Indians (now the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks) for the 1994 season. Laval led the team to a 241–159 (.603) record, two NCAA Tournament appearances, two Southland Conference regular season championships (1999 and 2000) and one Southland Conference tournament championship (1995). As a result of this success he attracted the attention of LSU in the wake of Skip Bertman's impending retirement.


Smoke Laval Former LSU coach Smoke Laval dismissed at the University of North

LSU hired Laval as an administrative assistant for the baseball team under Bertman in 2001, with the intention of promoting him to head coach succeeding Bertman. Bertman retired at the end of that season having won five national championships and Laval took over head coaching duties in 2002. Expectations were high for the new coach, as one would expect following a legend like Bertman.

In 2002 Laval led the Tigers to a 44–22 record and an appearance in a Super Regional in his first season. Things got even better in 2003, Laval's second season, as he led the team to a 45–22–1 record and their first Southeastern Conference regular season championship since 1997. He was named the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year. He also led the team to an appearance in the College World Series as the #2 national seed. However, the Tigers went home after two straight losses.

2004 saw the Tigers compile a 46–19 record and included a return trip to the College World Series. Like the prior year, LSU went 0–2 in the CWS and was eliminated. LSU fans were not used to going winless in Omaha, leading to questions about Laval's ability to maintain the program's elite status. The 2005 Tigers struggled during the regular season but still managed to compile a 40–22 record. The team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament and did not make an appearance in a Super Regional for the first time ever (Super Regionals began in 1999).

Although Laval's first four years were fairly solid, they were below Tiger fans had come to expect. He began feeling pressure from LSU fans and the athletic administration, and it was generally felt that 2006 would be a make-or-break season for him. Unfortunately for Laval, the Tigers had their worst season since 1983, the year before Bertman arrived. The team finished the season with a record of 35–24 and its first losing SEC record in 24 years. They missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years. Under pressure, Laval officially resigned on June 4, 2006. He finished his career at LSU with a record of 210–109–1 (.658) in five seasons. Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri was hired to replace him.

Following his resignation, Laval worked as a scouting adviser for the Toronto Blue Jays.

North Florida

In 2009, the University of North Florida announced that Laval would succeed Hall of Fame coach Dusty Rhodes as head coach of the Ospreys upon Rhodes' retirement. He took over prior to the 2011 season, becoming the second baseball coach in the school's history. He led the team to its first Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship in 2015 and was named Atlantic Sun Conference coach of the year that season. Laval was removed as head coach after the 2017 season.

Yearly record

Below is a table of Laval's yearly records as an NCAA head baseball coach.

Coaching honors

  • 1995 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
  • 1999 Southland Conference Coach of the Year
  • 2002 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
  • 2003 SEC Coach of the Year; Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
  • 2004 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
  • 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year
  • References

    Smoke Laval Wikipedia