Jack Dahm knows what he will be doing this weekend as the Iowa baseball coach, but his future beyond that is uncertain.
Dahm said he wants to return next season as the Iowa baseball coach. His 10th season as head coach will conclude with a three-game series at Purdue beginning on Thursday. This year marks the seventh time under Dahm that Iowa has failed to make the Big Ten Tournament, which features the top six finishers in the conference.
The Hawkeyes will bring records of 19-27 overall and 7-14 in the Big Ten into the Purdue series.
“I want to be the head baseball coach at the University of Iowa is what I want,” Dahm said Monday morning. “And we can get it done here. And we’re real close to turning the corner.
“Now I said that last year. But we’re still young. Look at our roster. Look who’s playing.”
Dahm said he will meet with Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta shortly after the season to discuss his future. Dahm has a one-year contract that expires at the end of June.
“I’ve asked to try to meet with him as soon as I can,” Dahm said. “I’ve asked to try to meet as quickly as possible for our players. Right now, I’m concerned about my players. They don’t need to be going out and wondering what’s happening.”
Dahm said doesn’t know what to expect from his meeting with Barta.
“We’re just going to talk at the end of the year, just like last year,” Dahm said. “We haven’t performed very well. So what’s going to happen? We’ll see.”
Barta was asked about the status of the Iowa baseball program on Tuesday while attending the annual Big Ten meetings in Chicago.
“Any time any of our programs isn’t in the top half (of the Big Ten) or competing for championships, I have concern,” Barta said. “But we really aren’t going to talk about it until the season is over.”
Dahm denied speculation that he was told by Barta after signing a one-year deal last spring that Iowa had to make the Big Ten Tournament in order for him to keep his job beyond the 2013 season.
“It was never said, `hey, you have to make the tournament or otherwise you’re gone,’” Dahm said. “That’s not what was said at all.”
The 46-year old Dahm said he likely would stay in Iowa City even if his contract wasn’t renewed. He and his wife Lynn have three children of high school age and younger.
“I don’t know what I would do,” Dahm said. “I love Iowa City. My kids love Iowa City.
“So I see myself staying in Iowa City. This is a great place. I absolutely love Iowa City. I love the people of Iowa City. I don’t want to leave Iowa City.”
Dahm is quick to point out that this year’s team has not met expectations. However, he also said there are extenuating circumstances, including one of the worst seasons with regard to weather for years in Iowa. Dahm said his team, which includes 12 freshmen and 12 sophomores, barely has been able to practice outside on its home field this spring.
Starting sophomore shortstop Jake Yacinich also has been plagued by injuries for much of the season.
“I think one of the things that needs to be taken into consideration is it’s been a very, very tough year from a weather standpoint,” said Dahm, who played baseball at Creighton from 1986-89 and was head coach at his alma mater from 1994-2003 before coming to Iowa. “And I think when you look at it it’s been the toughest year not just because it was cold when we played.
“We’ve had to move games down to Wichita. We’ve had to cancel games. We’ve had I want to say four outside practices all year on our field. So it’s harder when you’ve got a young team. And the thing is we were young last year, too. We’ve also had some injuries that really hurt us.”
Dahm also said it’s harder to get over the hump with Iowa trailing in the facilities arm race compared to most other Big Ten schools. Many of the Big Ten schools, including Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota, recently built new baseball stadiums.
“I’m not going to say it’s not a priority,” Dahm said of where baseball ranks at the UI. “We need to do better. We need to win more games. And we need to upgrade some facilities.”
Dahm understands that some will think he’s just making excuses by using the weather, youth, outdated facilities and injuries for reasons why Iowa has struggled this season.
“Unfortunately, I’m in that position right now,” Dahm said of defending himself. “And I don’t blame anybody because we’re not having a very good year. However, if you watch us play, certain games it’s been ugly. But again, we’re young.”
Dahm can use his success in recruiting to help his cause because that’s one area that has improved, at least on paper, with some of Iowa’s most recent recruiting classes ranked among the best in the Big Ten.
Iowa has 11 recruits set to join the program for the 2013-14 season, but that could change based on what happens in the amateur baseball draft.
Dahm credits the Big Ten Network for opening new recruiting avenues in states such as Texas and California. Outfielder Kendall Coleman, who is from Rowlett, Texas, is part of Iowa’s incoming class. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder is ranked as the 11th best prospect in Texas and No. 282 nationally.
“Now because of the Big Ten Network we’re able to recruit nationally better than we used to where you can get some high-profile kids,” Dahm said. “Those athletes weren’t there in the past.”
This year’s squad has been hurt by a lack of power hitting with Iowa having hit just two home runs as a team in 46 games. Iowa’s opponents, on the other hand, have hit 17 home runs this season.
“I always had power hitters when I was at Creighton,” Dahm said. “Part of it is some of the guys we recruited to be power hitters haven’t quite developed yet. This year look at our team, we’re so young. I think there are guys that are going to develop into power hitters.”