There have been so many names leaked for the Baylor baseball job. What is striking is they have all been either private school head coaches or coaches who recruited private schools previously. From Dan Heefner, Rob Walton, and Todd Whitting to begin the process to Casey Dunn and Steve Rodriguez. What do all of these guys have in common? Significant private school experience.
Yes, there are unique challenges that Baylor faces because of the scholarship limitations and the cost of tuition. That cannot be ignored, but it does not mean that only coaches from private schools can figure out how to be successful. Look a little north of Waco and consider what Jim Schlossnagle has done. What TCU did was they hired a baseball coach and let him figure out how to address the challenges. Yes, it hurts the argument that he was an assistant at Tulane, but people need to understand that South Louisiana is a baseball factory. Tulane is not a hard place to sell at all.
Another point that I cannot understand is why no serious consideration has been given to highly regarded assistant coaches (who do not have private school head coach experience)? There are several examples of assistants who took over head jobs and enjoyed tremendous success in our own back yard. When the search began it seemed that assistant coaches were going to be carefully considered, but if Skip Johnson is not getting any calls from the search committee and Mitch Thompson has only gotten one call (according to sources close to them), it does not seem that assistant coaches are getting much of a look.
At the end of the day though, it seems Baylor just does not seem to be interested in assistants. I get it. If that is the case, it seems they should at least go out and get the absolute best baseball coach they can get. This is a baseball job. Period. It is not a private school baseball job. Baylor should be looking at the best possible coaching candidates irrespective of the background or their school size. When I mentioned earlier in the week I felt SEMO's Steve Bieser should be on Ian's radar, I threw him in as a dark horse. Since that piece came out, I have talked to some former players and other guys who followed Baylor baseball that really liked the idea of getting a hungry, young coach. I have heard from a bunch of fans who want new blood to reinvigorate the program.
More interestingly, what I have subsequently found out from a source in the area is there is interest on Bieser's part, and he has done significant homework on the current Baylor roster and what it would take to be successful including shoring up ties to Texas recruiting. In fact, sources told me that he has identified former Baylor Baseball player Jim Blair as someone he would like to ask to join his staff. It is impossible to know if Blair would have any interest in the job. He has a great thing going, and he may have other aspirations. But, even if Blair opts not to join Bieser, I think it speaks pretty well of Bieser in terms of recognizing the challenge before him. As Baylor fans everywhere know, Blair is an excellent recruiter and hitting coach. All we have to do is look to DBU for evidence of both.
Bieser had a significant professional baseball career including two years in the Show. He has immediately won where he currently is (2 consecutive regular season championships). He has replaced a school legend and unified the fanbase, quickly generating support and excitement from all sides. With his background, he will know how to work with pitchers and position players alike, and he will be the kind of guy who recruits look at as someone who can help them develop into professionals.
In fairness, I do not know Bieser, but he certainly feels like the type of candidate we should be seriously considering or someone like him. To be honest, I would still prefer to go get Skip Johnson or Mitch Thompson (if they would even still be interested after all this). But, as Baylor drags this thing on and brings in lesser and lesser known commodities, it seems like they should probably get past hangups about private schools vs public schools and assistant vs head coach, and they should go get a coach who has demonstrated an ability to win baseball games. Recruiting battles Baylor are not even involved in are being lost every day this search drags on. That is not a call to rush to a bad decision, but it seems clearly a reason to open up the parameters a bit and just go get the best baseball guy Baylor can get - whomever or wherever that may be.