Baseball search picks up speed

Who will be Auburn’s next head baseball coach? Will it be Samford had coach Casey Dunn? South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi? Troy head coach Bobby Pierce? Maybe Mississippi State assistant Butch Thompson or Arkansas assistant Todd Butler?

South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi

Those are the names heard most prominently as athletics director Jay Jacobs’ search for a replacement for John Pawlowski picks up speed. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t others.

No potential coaches have been interviewed or officially contacted. That process is likely to begin later this week or early next week.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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