Bobby Randall, a former major-league infielder who has Big Eight experience with two league teams, was named head baseball coach at Kansas University on Friday.
Randall, a Kansas State graduate who has coached the last 14 years at Iowa State, has a 309-311 career record over 11 seasons as ISU's head coach.
"I'm very nostalgic to leave here," Randall said. "I can't imagine wearing any uniform other than the Cyclones. But I'm excited to be coming to Lawrence. It's funny, but I've been here 14 years and I don't really have the feeling that it's home. I have more of a sense of returning to my roots now."
Randall, 47, is a native of Gove, Kan. A brother still lives there, while another brother and his mother still live in the state. He replaces Dave Bingham, who resigned on Aug. 4 after eight seasons at KU.
Proximity to family played in Randall's decision.
"That's part of it, yes. There's a strong pull to the Kansas connection," Randall said. "But there's a lot more to it that than. If Lawrence was just a nice place to live, I'd move there and do something else. It seemed like a good fit."
The Cyclones were 28-24 this past season, their sixth winning season in the past seven years. ISU's best record under Randall was 36-26 in 1989, when the Cyclones placed third in the Big Eight. ISU finished in the league's top four in six of the past seven seasons.
But the ISU baseball program was often under the gun, operating with a shoestring budget and dated facilities. In fact, a vote had been taken to cancel the program this season but Randall successfully fought to keep it afloat.
"It was a tough year," Randall said. "Frankly, the program is as healthy as it has ever been. They're adding a press box and our budget was increased for the first time in 10 years. But I had a sense it was time to move. I thought it was best for both parties.
"I was looking for a challenge. Everything I had to fight for at Iowa State had a support staff at Kansas to take care of. I was shocked. I guess I had no idea what was going on around the country."
Under Randall, ISU has produced 20 professional baseball players, three of whom made it to the major leagues.
Randall himself was a major leaguer. Upon graduation from Kansas State, Randall spent six seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor leagues before he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1975. He played five seasons with the Twins, compiling a .255 career batting average.
"I'm really excited to have Bobby Randall lead our baseball team," KU athletic director Bob Frederick said. "Bobby Randall is a great coach and a great human being."
Randall was concerned the search committee -- which was headed by KU associate athletic director Betsy Stephenson -- would frown on his K-State diploma.
"We've been on the computer trying to get that erased," Randall said. "We were trying to wipe that out, but we didn't quite get it deleted. That really had me worried from the outset. But I've been away from home so long ... I was an Iowa Stater until a couple hours ago. Now I'm a Jayhawk."
Randall cited KU's commitment to athletics in general and to baseball in particular as reasons to accept the position.
"Kansas has a great reputation among athletic circles," he said. "And the camaraderie within the department had a good feeling. I had a chance to talk to (men's basketball coach Roy) Williams and (football coach) Glen Mason for a while, and both of them were terrific. It just seemed to fit."
Randall and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters: 14-year-old Jose and 9-year-old Kelsey.
Randall was one of three finalists who interviewed for the job. The other two finalists were North Carolina-Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs and Wilson Kilmer, a KU assistant the past eight seasons who served as interim coach after Bingham resigned.
Randall will report for work Monday.