|Team||North Florida Ospreys|
|Conference||Atlantic Sun Conference|
December 20, 1955 |
|Gulf Coast CC
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Wolfson High School (Asst.)
Gulf Coast CC (Asst.)
LSU (Adm. Asst.)
Toronto Blue Jays (scout)
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
1995 SLC Tournament Championship
1999 SLC Championship
2000 SLC Championship
2003 SEC Championship
1995 LSWA Coach of the Year
1999 SLC Coach of the Year
2002 LSWA Coach of the Year
2003 SEC Coach of the Year
2003 LSWA Coach of the Year
2004 LSWA Coach of the Year
Raymond Peter "Smoke" Laval (born December 20, 1955) is an American college baseball coach who is currently the head coach of the University of North Florida Ospreys. He is a former head coach of the Louisiana State University Tigers and the University of Louisiana at Monroe Indians baseball teams. He has led his teams to two College World Series, four conference championships, and seven NCAA Division I Baseball Championship appearances, and has received a number of coaching awards.
Early life and career
Laval was born in McDonald, Pennsylvania. He enrolled at Gulf Coast Community College in 1974, where he played catcher on the college baseball team. He transferred to Jacksonville University in 1976, playing for the Jacksonville Dolphins baseball team.
After college he served in a variety of assistant coaching positions at Jacksonville, Wolfson High School, Louisiana State University, Gulf Coast Community College, and the University of Florida from 1977 to 1983. In 1984 he took a longer term assistant position with the LSU Tigers baseball team under the legendary coach Skip Bertman. During that time the LSU program became one of the best in the nation winning two National Championships (1991 & 1993). As a result of the success at LSU, Laval was offered the head coaching position at nearby University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1993.
Head coaching career
Laval became head coach of the Northeast Louisiana Indians (now the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks) for the 1994 season. Laval lead the team to a 241–159 (.603) record, two NCAA Tournament appearances, two Southland Conference regular season championships (1999 and 2000) and one Southland Conference tournament championship (1995). As a result of this success he attracted the attention of LSU in the wake of Skip Bertman's impending retirement.
LSU hired Laval as an administrative assistant for the baseball team under Bertman in 2001, with the intention of promoting him to head coach succeeding Bertman. Bertman retired at the end of that season having won five national championships and Laval took over head coaching duties in 2002. Expectations were high for the new coach, as one would expect following a legend like Bertman.
In 2002 Laval led the Tigers to a 44–22 record and an appearance in a Super Regional in his first season. Things got even better in 2003, Laval's second season, as he led the team to a 45–22–1 record, a Southeastern Conference regular season championship, their first since 1997 and an appearance in the College World Series as the #2 national seed. LSU went 0–2 in the CWS and was eliminated. 2004 saw the Tigers compile a 46–19 record and included a return trip to the College World Series. Like the prior year, LSU again went 0–2 in the CWS and was eliminated. LSU fans were not used to going winless in Omaha, leading to questions about Laval's ability to maintain the program's elite status. The 2005 Tigers struggled during the regular season but still managed to compile a 40–22 record. The team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament and did not make an appearance in a Super Regional for the first time ever (Super Regionals began in 1999).
Although Laval's first four years were fairly solid, they were below Tiger fans had come to expect. He began feeling pressure from LSU fans and the athletic administration, and it was generally felt that 2006 would be a make-or-break season for him. Unfortunately for Laval, the Tigers had their worst season since 1983, the year before Bertman arrived. The team finished the season with a record of 35–24 and its first losing SEC record in 24 years. They missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years. Under pressure, Laval officially resigned on June 4, 2006. He finished his career at LSU with a record of 210–109–1 (.658) in five seasons. Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri was hired to replace him.
Following his resignation, Laval worked as a scouting adviser for the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 2009, the University of North Florida announced that Laval would succeed Hall of Fame coach Dusty Rhodes as head coach of the Ospreys upon Rhodes' retirement. He took over prior to the 2011 season, becoming the second baseball coach in the school's history.
|Northeast Louisiana/Louisiana–Monroe (Southland Conference) (1994–2000)|
|1995||Northeast Louisiana||37–20||16–7||3rd||NCAA Regional|
|1996||Northeast Louisiana||41–19||21–9||1st (Louisiana)||Southland Tournament|
|1997||Northeast Louisiana||33–21||17–11||2nd (Louisiana)||Southland Tournament|
|1998||Northeast Louisiana||33–22||13–9||2nd||Southland Tournament|
|1999||Northeast Louisiana||36–22||19–7||1st||NCAA Regional|
|LSU (Southeastern Conference) (2002–2006)|
|2002||LSU||44–22||19–10||2nd (West)||NCAA Regional|
|2003||LSU||45–22–1||20–9–1||1st (West)||College World Series|
|2004||LSU||46–19||18–12||T–2nd (West)||College World Series|
|2005||LSU||40–22||18–12||T–1st (West)||NCAA Regional|
|2006||LSU||35–24||13–17||4th (West)||SEC Tournament|
|North Florida (Atlantic Sun Conference) (2011–present)|
|2013||North Florida||40–19||18–9||3rd||A-Sun Tournament|
|2014||North Florida||22–31||11–16||8th||A-Sun Tournament|
- 1995 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
- 1999 Southland Conference Coach of the Year
- 2002 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
- 2003 SEC Coach of the Year; Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
- 2004 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
- "UNF Names Smoke Laval New Baseball Coach". unfospreys.com. University of North Florida. August 24, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "2011 LSU Tigers Baseball Media Guide". LSU Sports Information. p. 170. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "2012 Louisiana–Monroe Baseball Fan Guide". Louisiana–Monroe Sports Information. pp. 70–71. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "The History and Traditions of the University of Louisiana at Monroe". ULM.edu. p. 7. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 14 June 2012. "On August 27, 1999, the university officially changed its name to the University of Louisiana at Monroe"
- "Annual Conference Standings". BoydsWorld.com. Boyd Nation. Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Standings". D1Baseball.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Standings". D1Baseball.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Standings". D1Baseball.com. Jeremy Mills. Archived from the original on May 27, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.