KNOXVILLE, Tenn -- After 39 seasons in the profession, Paul Mainieri’s time as a head coach is over with LSU bowing out to Tennessee in the Super Regionals.
"(The) kids battled like crazy. We got counted out a lot of times during the course of this year and our guys never gave up," Mainieri said after the team's 15-6 loss to the Volunteers, Sunday. "They're a resilient bunch and I love them to death. I'll always remember them. They're my last team."
Manieri’s hopes of reaching Omaha for a sixth time with the Tigers stopped in Knoxville and after their loss to the Volunteers, he was asked to access the future of the program compared to how it was when he inherited it.
"It took us three years to win the national championship and I'm pretty proud of that. We went to Omaha in our second year with our '08 team. It was a phenomenal group of kids and our '09 team finished the job and won the national championship.
"The foundation of that was set with my first team in '07 so, I feel very good about where the program is and it's been 15 wonderful years. I've loved every second of it, cherish it forever."
With more than 1,500 wins to his name and stops at St. Thomas, Air Force and Notre Dame, a flood of memories hit the head coach in the 9th inning of his final game. Mainieri, with tears in his eyes, said he was thinking of his late father and the rest of his family as his last dance with the Tigers is over.
"Hey, listen, I don't want people to be sad for me. I've been the luckiest guy in the world. 39 years of having really, got to live out a childhood dream. Got to do what I wanted to do with my life. Who could ask for more?"
Mainieri's career record is 1,505-777-8 with a 641-285-3 mark at LSU.