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Back to the drawing board

When the Pirates return to the field next spring, Tampa Jesuit assistant coach Bob Weiner will not be in the dugout.

Weiner, 38, turned down Crystal River's recent offer to replace former coach Brent Hall, whose contract was not renewed. Athletic director Earl Bramlett said Tuesday that the process starts all over.

"We've got a lot of people, but as far as a front-runner, we don't have one," Bramlett said. "He would have been a good one, but those things happen."

Weiner has been an assistant with Jesuit's successful program since 1996. In '97, the Tigers went 34-3 and won state and national titles. Jesuit captured another state championship in 2000. The team went 28-5 this past spring and made it to the Class 3A final four.

Jesuit has a rich tradition, including Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella as an alum. Current or former major-leaguers who maintain spots in the Tigers' record books include Dave Magadan and Brad Radke.

Weiner said he was attracted to the facilities, support and success at Crystal River.

"I obviously have been used to a competitive level but would get to step into a program that has also had success in recent years, so that was good," Weiner said.

The Pirates amassed an 83-15 record the past three years, reaching the final four in 2002. This past season, Crystal River made it to the region final, in which it lost to eventual Class 3A state champion Eustis.

Other variables came into play in Weiner's decision, as he has longtime roots in the Tampa area.

Weiner graduated from Jesuit in 1983 and went on to receive his bachelors degree from Boston College. He returned to Jesuit in '88, and has been an assistant football coach since. The Tigers went 11-2 and advanced to the state semifinals last fall. Weiner has coached junior varsity basketball and assisted at the varsity level. In 1996, he became the school's pitching coach under longtime head coach John Crumbley.

"I have a lot of close ties, and my situation is a great situation," Weiner said.

Weiner is not actively pursuing a head coaching job, though he thinks he would be up to the challenge. When he visited Crystal River, Weiner was kind of hoping it wouldn't be a good fit. But it was, making the decision difficult. He had to ask for a time extension.

"Regardless, (Crystal River principal Steve) Myers and Bramlett were great people to talk to, and they make you immediately want to be a part of what they're part of," Weiner said.

Bramlett estimated that 25-30 coaches have applied, though some were not certified or the school did not have any open teaching positions. Weiner is an English teacher, which was a plus for Crystal River, and the school has a physical education slot available.

"If you find the one and the recommendations are good and you feel good about it, then you go for it," Bramlett said of the search.