Colleges: Kiraly one to covet

College SportsSportsBaseballBig West ConferenceCollege BaseballUC IrvineNCAA

There comes a point with former athletes when the legacy they created during their playing career virtually trumps any resume they may have developed after that career has ended.

Karch Kiraly, the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and/or Wayne Gretzky of men's volleyball, is such a figure.

Kiraly, whose relatively modest coaching experience has been limited to an assistant's role, which he currently holds with the U.S. women's national team, does not rival some of the sideline accomplishments presented by others pursuing the UC Irvine men's volleyball coaching vacancy that was created when John Speraw left for UCLA.

But few would argue that Kiraly's place atop the pantheon of not only his sport, but the virtual entirety of Olympic sports as well, would make him an attractive hire whose cache among prospective recruits and UCI returners alike would seem to promote continued success for a program that has won three NCAA titles in the last six years, including 2012.

Kiraly was hired in April of 2009 by U.S. women's coach Hugh McCutcheon, who with Speraw among his assistant coaches, piloted the American men's team to an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008.

Kiraly's bio on the USA Volleyball website fortifies the praise he regularly receives for his knowledge of the game and his ability to lead.

"I have a hunger to grow and to learn, so coaching is a natural extension of a lifelong love of the game of volleyball," Kiraly says in the five-page bio that chronicles his unprecedented playing success both indoors and on the beach. "The United States has a superb cadre of coaches, some of the best minds of volleyball ever, and I aspire to join that group."

Kiraly, who is joined on the Team USA bench by fellow assistant and volleyball legend Paula Weishoff, the UCI women's coach, has helped the U.S. women earn the No. 1 world ranking. They won a sliver medal in Beijing and are looking to go one better in London.

By multiple accounts, Kiraly appears to be the leading candidate to succeed Speraw. What remains unclear is whether the 48-year-old San Clemente resident is as interested in the UCI job as Anteater administrators are interested in bringing him on board.

The interview process is ongoing at UCI, where former assistant Dave Kniffin and current assistant Mark Presho are still viable candidates.

USC assistant Jeff Nygaard, who like Kiraly played collegiately at UCLA, is among the names still generating speculation.

A decision is not expected until late next week at the earliest.

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When UC Santa Barbara men's basketball star Orlando Johnson was taken 36th Thursday by Sacramento and then traded to Indiana, he became the first Big West Conference player to be selected in the NBA Draft since 2004.

Johnson is the 10th Big West player drafted since 1991, when five Big West representatives were selected, including four from UNLV.

The last time a UCI player was drafted was 1986, when Johnny Rogers went in the second round to Sacramento and Tod Murphy was a third-round choice of Seattle.

Three UCI players were taken in both the 1984 (Ben McDonald, Bob Thornton and George Turner) and 1982 (Kevin Magee, Grant Taylor and Randy Whieldon) drafts.

Wayne Smith, taken by Phoenix in 1978, was the first player drafted in UCI's Division I history.

An astounding 14 players from six Big West schools were drafted in 1984, when the draft was 10 rounds.

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Recent UC Irvine graduate Charles Jock appeared to run out of gas to finish last in the 800-meter final at the U. S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon on Monday.

But the 2012 NCAA champion wasn't the only Anteater 800 runner who attempted to represent his country in London.

Cam Mitchell, who just completed his senior year, competed in the 800 semifinals at the Canadian Olympic Track and Field Trials on Friday at Foothills Athletic Park in Calgary, Alberta.

Mitchell finished 28th among 33 semifinalists, finishing in 1 minute, 55.09 seconds.

Mitchell finished seventh at the Big West Conference finals in 1:52.17 on May 12 at UCI.

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A pair of former UCI baseball teammates squared off against one another on Wednesday in the minor leagues, with infielder D.J. Crumlich getting the best of pitcher Daniel Bibona.

Crumlich, a second-team All-Big West Conference performer in 2012 who was drafted by the Pirates in the ninth round in June, went one for two with a walk and two runs to help the State College (Pa.) Spikes top Bibona's Batavia (N.Y.) Muckdogs, 6-2, in a New York-Penn League game.

Crumlich, who was hitting .417 through six games entering Friday (10 for 24 with two RBIs and seven runs), walked in the first and came around to score. Hitting in the No. 2 hole, Crumlich, a shortstop at UCI who is playing third base for the Spikes, led off the third with double against Bibona and later scored.

Bibona, the Big West Pitcher of the Year in 2009 and 2010 who is working his way back from arm surgery, worked four innings, allowing five hits, three runs, all earned, and picking up the loss in his first decision of the season.

In two starts, Bibona has a 6.43 earned-run average with nine hits allowed in seven innings.

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Scott Gorgen, another UCI product who earned Big West Pitcher of the Year laurels in 2008, has performed well after his recent promotion to Triple-A in theSt. Louis Cardinalsorganization.

Gorgen, 25, has allowed seven hits and three earned runs in 10 innings over two starts, without a decision for the Memphis (Tenn.) Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League. He has walked six and struck out seven. Opponents are hitting just .194 against him.

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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