LAFAYETTE — The Ragin’ Cajuns have welcomed home Matt Deggs as head coach of Louisiana Baseball, as announced by Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard on Thursday. Maggard’s selection of Deggs not only brings a familiar face on the national scene of college baseball to Louisiana, but it also returns home an individual that resonates deeply with fans of Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball.
Formerly an assistant coach at Louisiana for the late Tony Robichaux from 2012-14, Deggs’ offensive coaching prowess and recruiting acumen resulted in the Ragin’ Cajuns earning the first-ever No. 1 national ranking in school history.
Following Louisiana’s NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2014, Deggs immediately turned to leading Sam Houston State to new heights. As head coach of the Bearkats from 2015-19, Sam Houston State posted an outstanding record of 187-118 (.613) with Southland Conference regular season championships in three of the last four seasons. Deggs guided the Bearkats to a Super Regional in 2017, becoming the first-ever Southland program to accomplish the feat.
“Matt Deggs will not only embrace the Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball culture, but he already understands it,” Maggard said. “That was critical for this hire. His coaching record speaks for itself. He is a proven winner with a relentless approach to recruiting. Matt’s ability and desire to reach the hearts of his student-athletes is what makes him a transformational coach.”
Competing for and winning championships has been routine for Deggs in his career as an assistant and head coach. As an assistant coach at Northwestern State (1996-97), Arkansas (2003-05), Texas A&M (2006-10) and Louisiana (2012-14), Deggs helped each program to at least one conference championship during his stay at each school. Deggs added three conference regular season and two tournament titles to the trophy case as Sam Houston State’s head coach.
Deggs led Sam Houston State to NCAA Tournament berths in two out of his five seasons (2016, 2017), and claimed at least one conference title over four-straight seasons to close out his time in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston State (42-22, 24-6) won both the regular season and tournament titles in 2016 en route to an NCAA Regional, coincidentally in Lafayette. Deggs’ 2017 squad broke the 40-win barrier again, posting a record of 44-23, 19-11. The 2017 group won 12-of-13 games to close the season to secure the school’s first-ever Super Regional berth in Tallahassee, Florida.
Sam Houston State’s 2017 group finished ranked in all six national polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).
“The love of Cajun Nation pulled us back out of Texas to over here in Lafayette,” Deggs said. “Seven years ago, Coach (Robichaux) saved my life. And he saved my family. I’m here today to say ‘Thank you, Coach’. We’re here today to say ‘Thank you’.”
The final two squads to receive Deggs’ tutelage at Sam Houston State earned Southland regular season crowns. The Bearkats went 39-20, 24-6 in 2018, and followed with a 31-25, 20-10 record in 2019.
Development of student-athletes was a constant under Deggs’ watch of the Sam Houston State program. In his five seasons, a total of 16 Bearkats were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Deggs’ aggressive offensive approach, dubbed “Pack Mentality”, has produced impressive results throughout his coaching career. Between his eight seasons coaching at Louisiana and Sam Houston State, his squads collectively batted over .300 four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019), smacked more than 50 home runs four times (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019) and totaled more than 100 doubles five times (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019). Louisiana’s 2013 and 2014 teams were especially prolific on the offensive side, batting .317 from the plate in back-to-back seasons and launching 74 and 68 home runs over those campaigns, respectively.
Crediting Coach Robichaux for resurrecting his coaching career, Deggs was brought onto the Ragin’ Cajuns staff during the 2012 season as an assistant coach, specializing as hitting coach and third base coach, while also overseeing team personnel and recruiting.
Louisiana made significant waves during Deggs’ stint as an assistant coach, including student-athletes receiving 15 All-Sun Belt honors, three All-America accolades and two Freshman All-America nods. Former Louisiana standout Blake Trahan earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and became the program’s first-ever Team USA member.
The 2014 season was a special one at Louisiana for many reasons. Not only was Cajun nation ignited around its top-ranked baseball program, but it was the winningest season in school history, at 58-10. Louisiana won the conference regular season title with its 26-4 mark in league play, and began a run of three consecutive Sun Belt tournament titles (2014, 2015, 2016).
The No. 1 ranking that Louisiana earned in 2014 was the second time a program that Deggs was a member of ascended to the top spot in the national polls. During his time with Texas A&M (2006-10), the 2009 squad achieved the school’s first-ever preseason national No. 1 ranking.
The Aggies produced two Big 12 Players of the Year, nine All-Americans and 15 First-Team All-Big 12 performers during Deggs’ time with the program. Texas A&M won back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2007 and 2008. Deggs’ five-year stretch with Texas A&M saw the program go from posting a sub-.500 record in 2006 to reaching back-to-back NCAA Super Regionals in 2007 and 2008. Deggs assisted the Aggies to two Big 12 Tournament crowns (2007, 2010) and one regular season title (2008).
Prior to coaching the Aggies, Deggs served as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas for Dave Van Horn from 2003-05. Deggs provided instruction to three Razorbacks who earned all-conference recognition, as well as three Freshman All-Americans. The Razorbacks claimed both the SEC Championship and booked a trip to the College World Series in 2004.
Deggs first received experience as a head coach at Texarkana College for five seasons (1998-2002), compiling a sound record of 187-100. The squad claimed two Texas Eastern Athletic Conference runners-up finishes, a pair of TEAC titles (2001, 2002) and the school’s first-ever trip to Junior College World Series.
Developing and recruiting talented young men was a staple of Deggs’, even early on in his coaching career, as he brought future MLB All-Star Hunter Pence to Texarkana as a former high school standout from Arlington, Texas.
Deggs spent the 1996 and 1997 seasons as the hitting and infield coach at Northwestern State under Van Horn, assisting the Demons to the Southland Conference title in 1997. His infield units ranked among the top infield groups in the country for both seasons.
During his own playing career, Deggs was an infielder for Alvin Junior College from 1991-92 and at Northwood University from 1993-94. Deggs earned a Master’s degree from Northwestern State in 1996.
Deggs followed his college career with a turn in the professional ranks, playing three years for the Mobile (Ala.) Baysharks and the Tennessee Tomahawks, two of which were spent as a player/coach under former Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson and former Red Sox catcher Mike O’Berry.
Deggs is married to the former Kathy Saldua and the couple has a son, Kyler, and two daughters, Klaire and Khloe.
Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@RaginCajuns) to stay up-to-date on all within Louisiana Athletics.