Through nine seasons as UCLA's head coach, John Savage has established the Bruins as a national championship contender. He has guided UCLA to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons, leading the Bruins to the 2013 NCAA Championship. The Bruins' skipper has also coached the Bruins to College World Series appearances in three of the last four years, and the College World Series Finals in two of the last four (2010 and 2013). Savage's players have also succeeded in the professional ranks, as 65 Bruins in the last nine seasons have been selected in the MLB Draft.
UCLA enjoyed a banner season in 2013 under Savage, winning the program's first national championship. The Bruins went a perfect 10-0 in the postseason, posting a 4-0 record against national seeds in the tournament while eliminating two of them (No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, No. 1 North Carolina). During the Bruins' postseason run, Savage became UCLA's all-time leader in postseason wins, posting his 27th postseason win in UCLA's 3-0 win over Cal State Fullerton on June 8 to pass Gary Adams. Savage now has a record of 32-14 in the postseason as UCLA's head coach.
At the College World Series, the Bruins' pitching staff only allowed four runs over five CWS games. In the 67-year-history of the College World Series, only one national champion gave up fewer runs than UCLA, as California allowed three in 1957. The Bruins were also the first team in CWS history to allow one run or less in each of the five games they played.
By leading the Bruins to their second straight College World Series in 2013, Savage has become of one just 10 coaches all-time from the Pac-12 to lead their teams to back-to-back College World Series appearances (Frank Sancet, Jerry Kindall - Arizona; Bobby Winkles, Jim Brock - Arizona State; Pat Casey - Oregon State; Mark Marquess - Stanford; Sam Barry, Rod Dedeaux, Mike Gillespie - USC).
Savage guided the Bruins to a 49-17 overall record in 2013, marking the second-highest single-season win total in school history. UCLA also matched a school record with 21 conference victories, finishing third in the Pac-12. The Bruins have finished in the top three in the Pac-12 Conference in each of the last eight seasons, the only Pac-12 team to do so. Additionally, Savage coached pitcher David Berg and infielder Pat Valaika to Pac-12 Pitcher and Defensive Player of the Year honors respectively. Berg became the first reliever in the history of the conference to win Pitcher of the Year honors while Valaika became the first UCLA player to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Under Savage's tutelage, pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig earned All-Pac-12 honors in 2013 and became the winningest pitching tandem in school history, combining for 56 wins in their three-year careers. Overall, Savage coached a pitching staff that posted a 2.55 ERA and held opponents to a .222 batting average, both the second-lowest marks in the Pac-12. UCLA's pitchers also allowed the fewest runs in the conference (196) and held opponents to two runs or fewer in half of the Bruins' games (33 out of 66).
Savage also reached a couple of coaching benchmarks in 2013, winning his 300th game at UCLA in the Bruins' 1-0 victory at Oregon on April 20 and his 400th career game in UCLA's 5-2 win at USC on May 19. Since 2010, Savage's teams have won 183 of 257 games played, giving UCLA's coach a winning percentage of .712. Finally, Savage capped off the 2013 season by being named the National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, the ABCA and Perfect Game USA. He also saw seven of his players get selected in the 2013 MLB Draft and four be named to the All-Pac-12 team.
In 2012, Savage helped UCLA posted a 48-16 mark, culminating in the program's fourth appearance in the College World Series. UCLA won the Pac-12 co-championship (tied with Arizona), marking the first time in school history that the Bruins had won back-to-back conference titles. UCLA finished with at least 48 wins for the second time in three seasons, and reached the 40-win plateau for the eighth time in school history.
In addition, UCLA's 2012 ballclub hosted the NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional for the second time in three seasons and the NCAA Los Angeles Regional for the third consecutive season. Spearheaded by hitting coach Rex Peters, UCLA raised its batting average by 41 points in 2012.
Over the past four seasons, Savage has led UCLA to remarkable heights. In 2012, the Bruins earned the NCAA Tournament's No. 2 national seed, swept an NCAA Regional at home, and won two games against TCU in the NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional. UCLA won the Pac-12 co-championship in 2012 by winning eight of its final nine Pac-12 games, including a three-game sweep of crosstown rival USC during the final weekend of the regular season. At season's end, seven players were selected within the first 15 rounds of the MLB Draft. Six Bruins captured All-Pac-12 Team honors, the highest number of selections at UCLA since 1997.
Savage is one of eight head coaches in the history of college baseball to have led his team to a College World Series, produced a No. 1 overall MLB Draft selection and coached a Golden Spikes Award winner. Savage is joined in that illustrious circle by former head coaches Skip Bertman (LSU) and Jim Brock (Arizona State) and current head coaches Tim Corbin (Vanderbilt), Augie Garrido (Cal State Fullerton, now at Texas), Jack Leggett (Clemson), Mike Martin (Florida State) and Jim Morris (Miami).
In 2011, the Bruins captured their first outright Pac-10 Conference title since 1986. After hosting an NCAA Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium, top right-handed pitchers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer were selected No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. No college program had seen two of its players selected within the draft's first three selections since 1978 (Arizona State).
In July 2011, Bauer became UCLA's first-ever Golden Spikes Award winner, earning a coveted award presented annually by the USA Baseball Federation to the nation's premier amateur player. Additionally, Bauer became the first player in school history to earn National Player of the Year honors from either Baseball America or Collegiate Baseball.
Savage helped UCLA's 2011 pitching staff post the nation's third-lowest ERA (2.44), the lowest mark on record in school history. Likewise, the Bruins' staff finished the year second, nationally, in strikeouts per nine innings (9.8) and hits allowed per nine innings (6.61). In 2010, UCLA logged the nation's second-lowest ERA (3.00). That year, the Bruins' staff ranked first in the country in strikeouts per nine innings (10.2) and second in hits allowed per nine innings (7.31).
In 2010, Savage helped lead UCLA to its most successful season in school history while the Bruins played the nation's most challenging schedule, as ranked by Boyd's World. UCLA set the school record for single-season wins (51) and most wins during the regular season (43) while landing their first-ever national seed (No. 6-seed) in the NCAA Tournament. During the Bruins' run through the College World Series, Savage was named the National Coach of the Year by CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
UCLA has hosted postseason play at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium the past four seasons (2010-13), making the Bruins one of just three programs to host an NCAA Regional in each of the last four years (South Carolina and Virginia). In addition, the Bruins have posted the sixth most wins nationally since 2010 with 183 wins in the last four seasons. In 2011, the Bruins entered the NCAA Los Angeles Regional as the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year and went 2-2. In 2010, UCLA hosted postseason games for the first time since 1986, defeating Kent State, defending national champion LSU and UC Irvine before hosting an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in program history.
At the 2010 NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional, UCLA won the final two games of the series against Cal State Fullerton to secure their third appearance in the College World Series, UCLA's first berth since 1997. At the College World Series, the Bruins defeated Florida once and TCU twice to advance to the best-of-three finals, before dropping two games to South Carolina. Under Savage's guidance, UCLA opened 2010 with a 22-0 record, the program's longest win streak and best start to a season. After finishing second in the Pac-10 Conference, a league that sent eight of its 10 teams to the postseason, the Bruins' pitching staff set the school and Pac-10 record for strikeouts in a season (700).
Savage's work with UCLA's pitchers has been most evident with the development of a formidable 1-2 punch in right-handers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. In three seasons at UCLA (2009-11), Bauer established UCLA's all-time records in strikeouts (460), wins (34) and innings (373.1) and set the program's top two marks in single-season strikeouts. Bauer logged a nation-leading and Pac-12 record 203 strikeouts in 2011 after having led the country with 165 strikeouts in 2010. Cole served as UCLA's Friday night pitcher in each of his three seasons (2009-11), logging 376 strikeouts, the second-highest career total in program history and becoming the first pitcher in program history to record at least 100 strikeouts in each of three seasons.
Through the last eight years, Savage's teams have posted the second-most wins (132) and second-highest win percentage (.623) of any Pac-12 team in conference games only. Similarly, UCLA has collected the third-most wins (307) and fourth-highest win percentage (.627) of Pac-12 teams in all games. The Bruins finished in third place in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 before earning a second-place finish in 2010, conference titles in 2011 and 2012, and another third place finish in 2013.
Aside from making strides on the field, Savage and his coaching staff have found success on the recruiting trail. Seven of his eight recruiting classes have been nationally ranked in the top-20 by Baseball America. Savage's first recruiting class at UCLA was ranked No. 5, and that group lived up to its billing by leading the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. His second class was tabbed No. 13, and his third and fourth classes were ranked No. 7. Savage's fifth recruiting class was tabbed No. 19, while the sixth incoming group was rated No. 3. In the fall of 2012, Savage brought in his most highly regarded recruiting class to date, bringing in the No. 2 ranked class in the country according to Baseball America.
Additionally, Savage's players at UCLA have seen success in the Major League Draft and in professional baseball. Over the last nine seasons (2005-13), UCLA has produced 65 draft selections, including a program-record-tying 12 draft picks in 2006. Nine of Savage's ballplayers at UCLA have been promoted to the major leagues, including left-hander David Huff (Cleveland), right-handers Josh Roenicke (Toronto), Hector Ambriz (Cleveland), Trevor Bauer (Arizona), Tyson Brummett (Philadelphia), Charles Brewer (Arizona), Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh) and infielders Brandon Crawford (San Francisco) and Jermaine Curtis (St. Louis). Of those 65 selections, 12 have been chosen within the draft's first five rounds and 24 through the first 10 rounds.
At least one UCLA pitcher from 2006 through 2011 registered at least 100 strikeouts - David Huff (100) in 2006; Tyson Brummett (138) in 2007; Tim Murphy (111) in 2008; Gerrit Cole (104) in 2009; Trevor Bauer (165), Cole (153) and Rob Rasmussen (128) in 2010; Bauer (203) and Cole (119) in 2011.
In 2009, Savage led UCLA to a third-place finish in the Pac-10 for the fourth consecutive season. The Bruins went 27-29 with a 15-12 mark in Pac-10 play. That year, UCLA's pitching staff finished ninth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (9.3) and 14th in hits allowed per nine innings (8.79). The team's success on the mound was fueled by Bauer and Cole, who finished the year as two of the conference's three freshmen to earn All-Pac-10 team honors. Bauer captured National Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors from Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball and was named a first-team Freshman All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Cody Decker became the first Bruin to hit 20 or more home runs under Savage in one season. He finished his senior season with 21 homers, becoming UCLA's first Pac-10 home run leader since 2002.
In 2008, UCLA became the school's first baseball team to secure a third consecutive trip to NCAA postseason play. The Bruins went 33-27 with a 13-11 Pac-10 record, culminating in an NCAA Regional Final berth at Cal State Fullerton. UCLA's pitching staff recorded a conference-leading 4.29 ERA in Pac-10 action. Murphy guided the Bruins' rotation in 2008 and became the first UCLA pitcher to lead the Pac-10 in strikeouts (111) since 1996, when Jim Parque totaled 116 strikeouts. The Bruins' regular-season schedule featured 26 games against teams that advanced to NCAA postseason play.
In 2007, Savage helped UCLA overcome an 8-14 start and record a 33-28 overall record, en route to the program's first NCAA Super Regional appearance since 2000. The Bruins went 14-10 with a third-place finish in the Pac-10. UCLA won 19 of 23 games midway through the 2007 season, marking the team's most successful stretch since 1997, when UCLA last advanced to the College World Series.
The Bruins' road to the Super Regionals that season included 29 games against 11 teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths, including 14 contests against teams that advanced to Super Regionals. Backed by three masterful performances from its starting pitchers, UCLA swept the NCAA Long Beach Regional at Blair Field. Brummett came within one out of tossing a complete game in a 7-3 win over Pepperdine, before Murphy recorded the save. Gavin Brooks threw a complete game in a 3-1 victory over Illinois-Chicago, and Murphy went the distance in a 7-4, regional-clinching victory over host Long Beach State.
Savage's tutelage proved instrumental in the development of Brummett, an All-Pac-10 selection, and the emergence of Brooks and Murphy. By season's end, UCLA landed five players on the All-Pac-10 team, the most selections by any Bruin baseball team since 2000. Freshman outfielder Gabe Cohen secured Co-Newcomer of the Year honors, and Decker earned his first of two All-Pac-10 team selections.
The 2007 ballclub earned five consecutive Pac-10 series wins, as UCLA took two of three games against Washington, Arizona and California in addition to road sweeps of Stanford and USC. UCLA faced the second-most difficult schedule in the nation and the No. 1 most challenging non-conference slate, as rated by Boyd's World.
Savage engineered a quick turnaround in 2006, leading the Bruins to a 33-25 overall record and a berth in the NCAA Malibu Regional. UCLA finished third in the Pac-10 that season with a 13-10 conference record. The Bruins faced the toughest schedule in the nation, as rated by Boyd's World, by playing 27 regular-season games against 10 teams that advanced to NCAA Regionals. The Bruins' 2006 campaign marked the first year in which UCLA won each of its home Pac-10 series.
In just his second year at UCLA, Savage guided the Bruins' pitching staff to a 3.77 team ERA, the lowest mark by any UCLA ballclub since 1980 (3.55). With the addition of Huff and Brummett to the weekend rotation, the pitching staff recorded six complete games, tied with Stanford for the most in the Pac-10. Three players earned All-Pac-10 team honors, and three Bruins secured honorable mention All-Pac-10 accolades.
Much of the college baseball world noticed UCLA's success in 2006 and aimed their praise toward Savage. Following the 2006 campaign, Savage was named a finalist for the National Coach of the Year award by CollegeBaseballInsider.com, marking the second time he has been labeled a finalist for that award.
In July 2006, Baseball America hailed Savage as one of "10 People to Watch in the Future." The magazine listed the Bruins' head coach with other distinguished baseball personnel such as New York Mets general manger Omar Minaya, Mets all-star third baseman David Wright and Los Angeles Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng. Baseball America lauded Savage for his winning ways: "UCLA has always been viewed as a sleeping giant on the West Coast, and it looks like Savage has the giant stirring."
Prior to taking over the UCLA baseball program in 2005, Savage's coaching career made stops as a head coach at UC Irvine and as an assistant coach at Nevada and USC. Savage helped lead UC Irvine to the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in 2004. His ability to soundly recruit first-class student-athletes and to develop them into highly recognized Division I baseball players led UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to hire Savage on July 1, 2004, to replace the retired Gary Adams.
Coincidentally, Guerrero also hired Savage at UC Irvine three years prior and asked him to re-launch a dormant Anteater baseball program. Savage spent his first season recruiting players and building the foundation for his program that began play in 2002. In their first season, the Anteaters compiled a 33-26 record, and the pitching staff set a school record with 487 strikeouts. Despite injuries to key players the following season, UC Irvine recorded 417 strikeouts and a 3.61 ERA (third in the Big West Conference).
In 2004, Savage led UC Irvine to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament. UC Irvine competed at the Notre Dame Regional and finished the year with a 34-23-1 mark. Savage's pitching staff recorded 483 strikeouts, four shy of the school record, and compiled a 3.69 ERA (second in the Big West). The UC Irvine offense hit at a .288 clip, averaging 5.7 runs per game.
That season, Savage coached a myriad of talented athletes, including the Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year, the Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Freshman of the Year and the only freshman in the nation to earn All-America first-team accolades from USA Today/Sports Weekly (Blair Erickson). Savage also led UC Irvine to its highest-ever national ranking at the time - a No. 7 spot from Collegiate Baseball in April 2004.
Following Savage's historic 2004 campaign, he was tabbed a finalist for National Coach of the Year honors by CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Three of his players were selected in the 2004 MLB Draft, and a total of 12 athletes signed professional contracts under his tutelage at UC Irvine. As a head coach, Savage compiled a perfect 4-0 mark against UCLA. His UC Irvine squads defeated the Bruins twice in 2002 and twice more in 2004.
Prior to taking over the UC Irvine program, Savage served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Southern California (USC) from 1996-2000. At USC, he helped produce numerous successful athletes, including consecutive Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year selections Seth Etherton, Rik Currier and eventual American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito. Ultimately, Savage helped guide Etherton to the 1998 Sporting News National Player of the Year award and was instrumental in his nomination as a Golden Spikes Award finalist. Also under his mentorship was former Chicago Cubs right-hander Mark Prior.
As recruiting coordinator, Savage helped facilitate the Trojans' top-ranked recruiting class in 1999-2000, as ranked by Collegiate Baseball, and served as an assistant to Mike Gillespie for the USA Baseball National Team of collegiate all-stars in the summer of 2000. That summer, the U.S. National Team tallied a 27-3-1 record and brought home a gold medal from the Haarlem Baseball Week Tournament in the Netherlands.
Two years prior, Savage earned Collegiate Baseball's Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 1998 after his coaching talents helped USC capture the 1998 College World Series Championship. He also helped guide USC to an NCAA Regional title in 1999 and the NCAA Super Regional title at Georgia Tech in 2000.
Savage served as an assistant coach at the University of Nevada from 1992-96, helping the Wolf Pack compile a 177-82 record in five seasons. During his tenure at Nevada, the baseball program won the 1994 Big West Conference title and strung together its first back-to-back 35-win seasons in school history. In five seasons as an assistant coach at Nevada, 24 Wolf Pack players signed professional contracts.
Savage began his coaching career as the pitching coach for Reno (NV) High School during the 1988-1989 school year.
Savage was a sixth-round draft selection of the New York Yankees in 1983, following his senior season at Reno High, but chose to attend Santa Clara University, where he pitched for three seasons. The Cincinnati Reds selected Savage in the 16th round of the 1986 MLB Draft. Savage played two seasons in the Reds' organization before moving on to help the independent league Salt Lake City Trappers set a professional baseball record with 29 consecutive victories in 1987.
Following his professional career, Savage earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education, with an emphasis in physical education and history, from Nevada in 1991.
Savage, 48, and his wife, Lisa, have four children: Julia (18), Jack (16), Ryan (14) and Gabrielle (12).
John Savage's Year-by-Year Head Coaching Record