Patrick Murphy said he thought the Monday phone call from a number with a 225 area code was his friend and mentor, former LSU coach Yvette Girouard.
Murphy didn?t answer. But it didn?t take long for Murphy, who coached rival Alabama for 13 years, to get the message that would change his life.
Four days later, the 45-year-old Murphy was introduced as the fifth softball coach in LSU history during a Friday news conference at the LSU athletic administration building.
Murphy led the Crimson Tide to seven Women?s College World Series appearances, including a final four finish last weekend. He said LSU also made some notable history with that phone call made by Athletic Director Joe Alleva.
?I get home and it?s (the call from) Joe,? Murphy recalled. ?And he said hopefully this is the one call I have to make. You?re the guy we want, and if you?re interested let me know.
?To my knowledge, this has never happened in hiring a coach for softball. This only happens in men?s basketball and football. That, to me, was a huge statement.
?But it also tells me they are doing the right things and they?re not putting softball on the backburner.?
Like Murphy, Alleva couldn?t stop smiling during the Friday news conference to welcome Murphy and Crowley native Alyson Habetz, who will serve as associate head coach at LSU, the same role she had at Alabama.
The media event was attended by Girouard, many current LSU coaches including football coach Les Miles and women?s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell, members of the Lady Tigers softball team and a large number of Habetz?s relatives, who offered enthusiastic applause.
?This was a very targeted search,? Alleva said. ?We made up our mind that we wanted him to be our head coach, and we went after him. We?re fortunate that we got him.?
Murphy made $140,000 per year at Alabama. Terms of his LSU contract were not disclosed, but Alleva said Murphy would be one of the five highest-paid softball coaches in the nation.
Girouard, who retired as LSU?s coach this spring, had a base salary of $120,000 when she signed a two-year contract in 2010, according to a story in The Daily Reveille. Girouard recorded a 1,285-421-1 record in the 31 seasons, including a 526-171-1 mark in 11 years at LSU. She spent 20 years at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, compiling a 759-250 record.
There was more to the news conference than talk about a lucrative contract. Family, future plans and Girouard were also key topics for Murphy. The Waterloo, Iowa, native brings a 712-210 record and the fourth-highest winning percent in NCAA softball history of .722 to LSU.
His opening remarks noted that his career began in 1990 as an assistant to Girouard at the ULL. He also pointed out that Habetz played first base for the Cajuns.
?Already, it?s a family atmosphere,? Murphy said, thanking the other LSU coaches on hand. ?We had a short meeting with the team, and I thought that went really well.
?It?s fitting that I started my career a little bit down the road. And hopefully, I will finish my career in Louisiana at LSU.?
Murphy said Girouard was the last person he called before deciding to come to LSU.
?I said, ?Tell me why I should come here,?? Murphy recalled. ?And she (Girouard) said it?s a great city, it?s a great university, it?s a great athletic department, and you have some great kids you?re about to work with.?
Girouard was just as enthusiastic, saying, ?I couldn?t even sleep last night, I was so excited. I?m excited for LSU, for our players, for the community, for the state, and most of all for Patrick and Alyson. They?re going to be taken care of here, and they?re going to love it.?
Current LSU players were also pleased have Murphy and Habetz on board.
?I couldn?t be happier,? pitcher Brittany Mack said. ?As soon as I got the text message about who our new coaches were, I broke down crying. I called my mom. I could not believe it.?
?There were rumors, but you never know,? catcher Morgan Russell said. ?I heard a rumor that Aly (Habetz) might be coming, and I was getting very excited. When I found out both of them (Murphy and Habetz) were coming .... well it?s the best thing that could happen.?
The role Habetz played in the hiring process was special because she was considered to be among the up-and-coming candidates for the LSU job.
When Murphy asked Habetz if she wanted to join him at LSU, she said the decision was a ?no-brainer.?
?When coach Murphy called and said, ?What about me and LSU,? I said, ?You?re not going without me.?
?I never imagined it would happen like this. For me, my family is my backbone. To be around them and have them be able to come to games on a regular basis means more to me than anything.?
Murphy said he has already started establishing goals for the LSU program. The first is to increase the current base of 600 season-ticket holders.
Recruiting was also on Murphy?s mind. He talked about making sure Louisiana?s top players stay at home and about the fact that the talent-rich Houston area is just a few hours away.
?There are some of the best kids in the country just down the road, and they should be coming here,? Murphy said.
Murphy said fall practice will allow time to implement his system, which features more of a running game than LSU has used.
A former baseball player and coach, Murphy also talked LSU baseball, noting that he used to drive from Lafayette to see midweek games. He said he was a big fan of former LSU stars Ben McDonald and Todd Walker.
?I had LSU baseball T-shirts, and I wore them until I wore them out,? Murphy said. ?It?s also fitting that I?m back in purple and gold. My alma mater, Northern Iowa, is purple and gold. Everything?s come full circle.?