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McDonnell signs 7-year contract

When you do something as remarkable as guide a program which had never won an NCAA Tournament game all the way to the College World Series in your first year as head coach, well, you can probably expect some positive reinforcement from your boss.

For Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell that positive reinforcement came Wednesday in the form of a new seven-year-contract.

McDonnell became one of the hottest coaches on the market immediately after U of L's miraculous run ended with a 3-1 loss to eventual runner-up North Carolina, but the National Coach of the Year says he never really considered leaving.

"Tom (Jurich) gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to come here a year ago," McDonnell told The Courier-Journal. "When my wife and I sat back and looked at what we have here in this community, that made it a really easy decision. Louisville has everything we're looking for, both in terms of lifestyle and in terms of what we can accomplish here in college baseball."

Since returning from Omaha McDonnell has been hard at work on the recruiting trail, landing a pair of highly touted high school stars in 2006 Ohio Player of the Year Mike Nastold and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Illinois, Tony Zych.

For all the acclaim he received for hiring Rick Pitino and Bobby Petrino, McDonnell may very well be Jurich's best work to date. He didn't do it single-handedly, but McDonnell is the number one reason why Louisville is considered one of the top five rising programs in the country, and is the most likely candidate to spark a baseball renaissance in the Derby City.

The Dante Alighieri of Louisville baseball