AUBURN – As Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs prepares to start the interview process, new names have surfaced as potential candidates in the search for a head baseball coach. Former coach John Pawlowski was fired after his fourth losing Southeastern Conference season in five years.
Former Auburn All-American Casey Dunn is expected to interview for head coaching job
Liberty head coach Jim Toman, North Carolina pitching coach Scott Forbes, North Carolina State head coach Elliott Avent and Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway have attracted interest from Jacobs, AuburnUndercover.com has learned. It is virtually certain that Samford head coach Casey Dunn, Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson and Arkansas assistant coach Todd Butler will be asked to interview. Other potential candidates are South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi and Troy head coach Bobby Pierce. It is uncertain how many coaches will be officially interviewed.
The interview process is expected to start this week. It is unlikely a final decision will be made until after Mississippi State and North Carolina State and possibly North Carolina are eliminated from the College World Series.
Pawlowski was dismissed as Auburn head coach after the Tigers failed to make an NCAA regional for the fourth time in five seasons. Pawlowski was 167-126 overall and 71-79 in five seasons. His 2010 team won the SEC West, but his other four teams all finished eighth or lower in the overall standings.
Auburn baseball has struggled since the 2003 team hosted a regional and lost to Ohio State. Steve Renfroe, who succeeded Hal Baird and went to three consecutive regionals, was fired after missing the postseason in 2004. Tom Slater followed Renfroe and was fired after going to one regional in four seasons. Pawlowski took over before the 2009 season.
Here is a look at the potential candidates:
Toman, Liberty’s head coach since 2007, took the Flames to the Big South championship and into the championship round of the South Carolina regional this season.
Before moving to Liberty, Toman spent 11 seasons as the senior member of Ray Tanner's coaching staff at South Carolina. Toman worked a total of 18 years alongside Tanner, dating back to the 1990 season at North Carolina State, his alma mater.
During his time at South Carolina, Toman served as recruiting coordinator and worked with the team's catchers. Known as one of the top recruiters in college baseball, At North Carolina State and South Carolina, Toman led the recruiting effort that landed 15 top 25 classes. Three of South Carolina’s recruiting classes were ranked No. 1 nationally.
In six seasons at Liberty, Toman is 222-138-1 overall and 82-43 in the Big South.
In 17 seasons at North Carolina State, Avent’s teams have played in 17 NCAA regionals and four super regionals. The 2013 Wolfpack won its own regional, beat Rice in a super regional and will play in the College World Series. It will be North Carolina State’s first CWS appearance since 1968.
At North Carolina State, Avent is 648-396 overall and 235-219 in the ACC. In 25 seasons as a head coach, including eight at New Mexico State, Avent is 873-609.
Avent’s wife, the former Amy Barnes, is an Auburn graduate.
Forbes, North Carolina's pitching coach for the past eight seasons, Under his guidance, the Tar Heels' pitching staff has ranked among nation's top 35 in earned run average in each of the last seven seasons.
Forbes, who also served as a North Carolina assistanf from1999-2002, has played aninstrumental role in the Tar Heels' run to five College World Series berths in the past seven seasons.
Baseball America recognized Forbes as one of the top assistant coaches in the country prior to the 2013 season. Collegiate Baseball named him the Pitching Coach of the Year in 2008..
On the recruiting front, Forbes played in an integral role in landing some of the nation's top talent as every class brought in to Carolina during his time has been ranked among the top 10 in the country.
In nine seasons as Oklahoma head coach, Golloway has taken the Sooners to eight NCAA regionals, four super regionals and to one college World Series. His record at Oklahoma is 346-181-1 overall and 116-97-1 in the Big 12. He coached at Oral Roberts from 1996 through 2003, going to NCAA regionals in each of last five seasons. His overall record is 638-316-1.
This season, Golloway’s Sooners were 43-21 overall, 13-11 in the Big 12 and lost at LSU in a super regional.
Samford’s head coach since the 2005 season, Dunn took over a program that had suffered through eight losing seasons in the previous nine. In 2012, Dunn coached the Bulldogs to a school-record 41 wins and the first regional in school history. In the Tallahassee Regional, the Bulldogs twice beat SEC power Mississippi State to advance to the championship round. Dunn is a former Auburn All-American. In his second season at Samford, his team won the Ohio Valley Conference championship. The program then moved to the Southern Conference.
Dunn, the first Samford coach in more than 40 years to post back-to-back winning seasons, has a team made up exclusively of high school signees.
There were eight junior college transfers on Samford's 2013 roster.
There were no junior college transfers or transfers from other four-year colleges on Samford’s 2013 roster.
Thompson might be the best recruiter in college baseball. He left Georgia for Auburn and immediately started signing top players out of Georgia. He left Auburn for Mississippi State and immediately started signing top players out of Alabama.
In his fifth season at Mississippi State, Thompson’s pitching staff has been a driving force in the Bulldogs’ run to the College World Series. He spent three seasons on Tom Slater’s Auburn staff from 200t-2008.
Thompson is extremely popular with players and has built a strong pitching staff at Mississippi State.
Arkansas’ hitting coach and chief recruiter since 2005, Butler has been a smashing success in both areas. In his eighth season, Butler has helped Arkansas make two trips to the College World Series, eight regional berths and three super regional berths.
A former Alabama assistant, Butler is in his 16th season in the SEC.
Calvi took over as head coach at South Alabama before the 2012 season and turned the Jaguars around in a hurry. After earning the No. 4 seed, their highest since 2008, in the Sun Belt Conference in 20012, they went 43-20 in 2013, shared the Sun Belt Conference championship with Troy and played in the Starkville Regional.
Calvi spent six seasons on Ray Tanner’s staff at South Carolina and was the lead recruiter for classes that led to national championships in 2010 and 2011.
Calvi has relied heavily on junior college players at South Alabama. Twenty-four of 35 players on the roster are transfers.
In 11 seasons, Pierce has taken Troy to four NCAA regionals. This season, the Trojans shared the Sun Belt Conference championship with Troy and beat Alabama twice in the Tallahassee Regional to advance to the championship round against Florida State.
Pierce rebuilt a struggling Troy program that had suffered through three consecutive losing seasons before he arrived. A star outfielder at Alabama in 1980 and 1981 and spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Alabama. He built the UAH program from the ground up and had a 276-108 record in seven seasons.
Pierce has relied heavily on transfers. Of 33 players listed on the Troy roster, 21 are transfers.