For only the second time in almost three decades, Baylor Baseball is searching for a new coach.
After a very disappointing season, especially the second half, Baylor and Steve Rodriguez agreed to part ways over Memorial Day Weekend. The decision came amid rumors of degrading player morale and other questions regarding the culture surrounding the program. Coach Rodriguez knows baseball, and I hope he gets another chance somewhere very soon, but today, Baylor looks to the future.
Mack Rhoades now has the opportunity to make another successful hire, and the decision will depend on his approach. Who are some of the potential targets?
Mitch Thompson, McLennan Community College
The popular choice among a lot of alumni (myself included) is Mitch Thompson, the Head Coach at McLennan Community College, who has made the JuCo College World Series an expectation for that program across town. Coach Thompson knows how to recruit to private schools in the power 5, has very deep ties with High School coaches in Texas, and he knows what it takes to get talent to Baylor consistently. The point that I’m sure will be pointed out as the negative is his age, and how many more years he will be wanting to coach. I don’t know how many years that would be, but I believe he could have the team very competitive, very quickly. If the Athletic Program would want a coach-in-waiting sort of assistant situation to ensure the longevity of the program. However, there are multiple high-rising assistants throughout college baseball, some familiar names to those who casually follow college baseball, and some that may not be.
Yet Thompson is not the only option. Baylor will likely be the best job available this off season in college baseball, so Mack Rhodes will have the opportunity to be thorough. The following candidates seem to be the most likely to get a phone call:
Frank Anderson - Tennessee Volunteers (Assistant Coach)
Anderson has been a well renowned pitching coach with experience at U Houston as well as Oklahoma State, before landing in Knoxville in 2017. Since then he has been an integral part of building what is far and away the best roster in college baseball currently. Frank is a pitching coach who has produced many all-conference and all-American pitchers, but more importantly, he’s someone who has spent years recruiting our state with deep roots in the recruiting landscape in Texas high schools.
Dan Heefner - Dallas Baptist Patriots (Head Coach)
This name was popular when we hired Coach Rodriguez, and Heefner has again quickly come to the forefront of a lot of fans’ minds in our search, but I don’t see him leaving now if he didn’t want to leave DBU when we were last in a coaching search. Heefner has turned Dallas Baptist into a national power in baseball, and general common sense makes a lot of people think he would be a natural fit at Baylor, but his interest in leaving is hard to gauge.
Nate Thompson - Arkansas Razorbacks (Recruiting Coordinator and Hitting Coach)
Thompson is a well-traveled, well-respected hitting coach and recruiter. His 5 seasons in Arkansas have been proof after previously being on coaching staffs at Missouri State, Hutchinson Junior College, and Nebraska as a grad-assistant. He has continually recruited and coached hitters who are drafted high in the MLB draft, as well as being on staff for the last 5 years at Arkansas, one of the most consistent elite programs in the nation. Nate Thompson is the brother of McLennan Coach Mitch Thompson.
Sean Allen - University of Texas L*******s (Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator)
Allen has followed current Texas HC , David Pierce, for the last 10 years at Sam Houston, Tulane, and now Texas. After playing and coaching at University of Houston, as well as coaching at Texas for the last 5 years as the recruiting coordinator, and has split time between being the hitting coach, and pitching coach, producing impressive groups of both hitters and pitchers together while at Texas with Pierce. Allen is someone who seems to be ready to take over a program and hit the ground running.
Other possible candidates include Texas State’s Steven Tout, Southern Miss Head Coach Scott Berry, hitting coach & recruiting coordinator for Texas Tech J-Bob (YES that’s correct) Thomas and maybe even Link Jarrett, the head coach at Notre Dame.
It remains to be seen which coaches are open to making a move, which highly regarded assistants are ready to break away from their programs. What we do know is Mack Rhodes will be very meticulous, and probably already has a targeted list shorter than this one in mind for his new leader of the baseball program. Myself and other former players would love to see Mitch Thompson (maybe with his brother on staff?) get the chance we believe he deserves, but also have the utmost trust in the athletic department to make a hire we can all get behind. This program need a leader to restore the culture, get W’s on the record, and again fill the seats at Baylor Ballpark.