It appears the search for Steve Smith's replacement may be coming to an end. The Omaha Chronicles reported today that sources close to the search confirmed that Mitch Thompson would be named the new head coach later in the week. As of the time of this writing, neither Baylor nor Thompson have confirmed the report. As I already reported, Mitch Thompson twice was named Big XII "Assistant Coach Most Ready to be a Head Coach" by his peers in addition to winning the "National Assistant Coach of the Year" in 2006.
So, that leaves us to consider what we think of the move, assuming the report is accurate.
In short, I think it is (or would be) a great hire. Some, including me to be honest, just assumed that the departure of Steve Smith would mean that Ian McCaw would be looking to take the program in a totally new direction. In fact, when I first wrote about the new hire, I did not even include Thompson. That was not because there was a moment's doubt of his ability. It's just that... I assumed.
As I wrote in another piece, Coach Thompson absolutely loves Baylor. In Steve Smith's 21 years, the Baseball program was one of the best in the Big XII. In 2012, the pair parted ways, but for 18 of Smith's 21 years, Mitch Thompson was a key architect of the program. In fact, 100% of the players during that era were recruited by Thompson. And, when he left the program, Thompson remained close to Waco accepting the head coaching job at MCC where he promptly turned the struggling Highlanders into a contender and played for a NJCAA national championship in just his second year.
The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
No one McCaw could have hired would love Baylor more than Mitch Thompson. He believes in Baylor, and he is passionate about the school, not just the baseball program. He already has shown an ability to sell the school and get talent on campus. In the 18 years he was a part of the program, Baylor baseball made 15 Regionals, won 3 Big XII Championships, and made 2 CWS appearances. Of the candidates being considered, only Whitting has shown the ability to recruit to a private school with the limitations Baylor faces.
No one McCaw could have hired would work harder for Baylor than Thompson either. One source close to the search reported that at the end of Thompson's phone interview, the interviewer said something like, "Coach, I'm ready to play for you now". Anyone who has ever heard Mitch Thompson sell a vision knows how persuasive he can be. Imagining him selling Baylor in 2015 and beyond with the athletic programs' current momentum and vibe on campus is easy... and pretty easy to be excited about.
Understandably a lot of fans were hoping for new blood, but if this is the hire that is decided on as reported, then it is definitely time to jump on the band wagon and start rocking. The Brazos is a great place to host regionals. Baylor Ballpark is a great place to win baseball games. Here's hoping Thompson can bring a lot more of both to the program.
UPDATE: McCaw has chimed in
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Baylor director of athletics Ian McCaw described the internet report that Mitch Thompson would be named baseball coach as "inaccurate."</p>— Brice Cherry (@BriceCherry) <a href="https://twitter.com/BriceCherry/status/608094917479374848">June 9, 2015</a></blockquote>
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