5 Texas baseball coaching candidates after David Pierce fired (2024)

Danny DavisAustin American-Statesman

After eight years, Texas and head baseball coach David Pierce parted ways on Monday, and the Longhorns don't have to hire a baseball coach often: Pierce was was just the Longhorns' sixth coach since 1911, and one of those coaches was a fill-in for Bibb Falk during World War II.

Since he became Texas' athletic director in December 2017, Chris Del Conte hasn't shied away from making splashy hires when it comes to coaching changes. His last three hires — Stein Metzger in beach volleyball, Bob Bowman in men's swimming and diving, and Laura Ianello in women's golf — have won national championships elsewhere. And men's basketball's Chris Beard (Texas Tech), women's basketball's Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State), softball's Mike White (Oregon) and track and field's Edrick Floréal (xx) already were proven winners nationally when Del Conte called about coming to Texas.

"It’s been an honor and privilege to lead this program for the last eight years," Pierce said Monday in a statement released by the school.

Who'll take over at Texas and lead the Longhorns into the SEC? Here are a few intriguing options.

Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle

For as long as Pierce's job security was a topic of discussion, Schlossnagle's name has been floated on message boards and social media as a possible replacement. Schlossnagle has compiled a 946-454 record and has made seven trips to the College World Series over 23 seasons as the head coach at UNLV, TCU and Texas A&M. He also worked for Del Conte at TCU.

But would Schlossnagle, 53, leave College Station? Texas A&M plays Tennessee for the national championship Monday night in the College World Series title game. And a significant buyout would be needed to pry him away from A&M. According to his contract, Schlossnagle's buyout is double his annual salary if he leaves for an in-state school. He's making $1.35 million this year.

Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello

If Schlossnagle is a candidate, then why not Vitelllo? He has guided Tennessee to a 59-13 season and the Volunteers were the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Over seven years in his first head coaching gig, he's 294-112 with the Vols. Vitello, 45, also was once an assistant under Schlossnagle at TCU.

But, like Schlossnagle, why would a coach leave a team that will either win a national championship tonight or be left on the cusp of greatness? History says that Vitello wouldn't. Since the first College World Series in 1947, only three coaches — Wake Forest's Taylor Sanford in 1955, Michigan's Don Lund in 1962 and Oregon State's Pat Casey in 2018 — did not return to defend their national championship the following season. And only one coach of a CWS runner-up (South Carolina's Ray Tanner in 2012) didn't return. And none of those coaches left to take a job at another school.

Clemson head coach Erik Bakich

Citing a source, the Clemson Insider reported on Monday that "Bakich has no plans to leave Clemson." But it isn't hard to see why he might be an attractive candidate for Texas. In two seasons at Clemson, Bakich has twice won 44 games and hosted a regional. Bakich, 46, has yet to lead Clemson to the CWS, but he did take Michigan into the championship series in 2019.

If he were to be lured by the Longhorns, Bakich's Texas debut would be delayed. He'll be suspended for the first two games of the 2025 season because of his ejection from Clemson's season-ending loss to Florida.

LSU head coach Jay Johnson

If Del Conte wants to hire another champion as UT's next coach, Johnson merits a look. The 47-year-old won an NCAA title with LSU in 2023 and his Arizona team was the national runner-up in 2016.

Will this happen? Probably not. LSU has been very active in the transfer portal this offseason and Johnson himself dismissed speculation about the Texas job at a press availability earlier this month.

Texas director of player development Troy Tulowitzki

Tulowitzki has never been a head coach before. He hasn't been a paid assistant, either. Those are two big red flags for a job of this magnitude.

But the ex-MLB all-star is a fan favorite around Austin and some of UT's best offensive seasons have been recorded during seasons that he's been on UT's staff as either a volunteer assistant coach or director of player development. Tulowitzki was reportedly considered for head coaching jobs at Long Beach State, Miami and USC in recent years.

When will Texas hire? A history lesson

Under Del Conte, Texas has typically moved fast to fill the openings within its athletic department:

∙ Texas fired head football coach Tom Herman and announced the hiring of Steve Sarkisian on the same day in January 2021.

∙ Texas hired Schaefer away from Mississippi State only two days after UT announced that Karen Aston wouldn't return in August 2020.

∙ It took Texas less than a week in the spring of 2021 to replace men's basketball coach Shaka Smart with Beard, who had led Texas Tech to the Final Four in 2019.

One notable exception occurred with softball in 2018. Connie Clark's lengthy tenure as Longhorns coach ended on May 23 that year. The hiring of White wasn't announced until June 25.

Ianello was recently lured away from Arizona just days after Ryan Murphy announced his resignation as UT's women's golf coach. Ianello shared with reporters that Del Conte had courted her for the job with an unexpected phone call and a 24-hour window to accept or turn down the offer.

5 Texas baseball coaching candidates after David Pierce fired (2024)
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