Purdue has an open baseball coaching position and the summer recruiting session is big for the sport, so the Boilers need to work quickly. The NCAA Tournament will be down to 16 teams after today, so this is a lot like coach hiring season in the other sports: grab the best names while you can.
First off, there are some big spot open out there. Kentucky and Alabama are open in the always brutal SEC, which had 7 teams host regionals this year. The biggest job is likely Texas, where the all-time winningest coach in the sport's history is stepping down in Augie Garrido. He won 1,950 games and five national championships, so there are big shoes to fill.
The good news is that Big Ten baseball is no longer a mid-major! It is a legitimate conference that is starting to make some serious noise in the sport. An open spot in our league is a big deal going forward, so the right guy can definitely have success.
Yesterday we also got some potential names too:
Purdue Update: Names I've heard they're interested in from sources: Travis Jewett, Scott Jackson, Jeff Duncan and Greg Lovelady.— Skippers Dugout (@SkippersDugout) June 6, 2016
They also mentioned a potential new job for Doug Schreiber at Butler:
Heard Butler U has some interest in talking with former Purdue HC Doug Schreiber.— Skippers Dugout (@SkippersDugout) June 7, 2016
Let's look at the four Purdue names:
Travis Jewett - Jewett is the current Vanderbilt hitting coach and a top notch assistant. Vanderbilt was the 2014 national champion and 2015 national runner-up. This season they lost a lot from those two teams, but still hosted a regional before tragedy struck. One of their relief pitchers drowned in a lake accident on Thursday and the team had to play over the weekend with that hanging over them. They went 0-2 in their own regional, losing to Xavier 15-1 and Washington 9-8. They finished 43-19 with four straight losses to close out the year.
Jewett is still a top tier assistant that is going to get a lot of looks for his own job. He is officially the Associate head coach at Vandy and he has coached at Arizona State, another power team, in the past. In four seasons as an assistant Vanderbilt has gone 199-73.
Scott Jackson - Jackson is an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina, where he has been for eight seasons. This past year North Carolina was the highest rated RPI team ever to miss the NCAA Tournament. Their RPI was 17 with a record of 34-21, but in the absurdly tough ACC they failed to qualify for the ACC Tournament, where the top 10 out of 14 teams go. It broke a streak of 13 straight NCAA appearances for the Tar Heels.
With Jackson North Carolina reached the College World series in 2009, 2011, and 2013. In 2013 they were the number 1 overall seed and got as far as the last four in Omaha before losing to eventual national champion UCLA. North Carolina is 345-156 with him.
Jeff Duncan - In terms of familiar names, Duncan should ring a bell. He was a long time Schreiber assistant before taking over at Kent State for the 2014 season. He was at Purdue for four seasons, including the 2012 season that we all know and love. That year got him "associate head coach" for 2013 for a year before he was hired by Kent State. He has also coached at Arizona State and played at Auburn.
Duncan's three years at Kent State have been respectable. Unlike Kent state football and the disaster we got from them there, there was some proven success before Duncan arrived. Remember our 2012 season? It was Kent State that handed Purdue its first tournament loss on their way to a CWS appearance. Duncan's team won the MAC regular season title this year and were 44-14, but were upset in the MAC Tournament and probably got robbed of an at large bid. Last season they were 31-21, but in his first season Kent State was 36-23 and made the NCAA Tournament after winning the MAC Tournament.
Greg Lovelady - I have written at length about Lovelady, but in three season at Wright State he has been impressive. Last season they won 45 games (a school record) and made the regional final in Champaign. This season they topped that by winning 46 games. They also reached the regional final again, this time at Louisville, and battled the No. 2 National Seeded Cardinals hard before losing 3-1 yesterday. It took him only 149 games to win 100 as a head coach and his is a strong, up-and-coming coach.
We also do not have to worry about his alma mater calling him home. Jim Morris, the long-time coach at Miami, is under contract through 2018 when he plans to retire. Gino Dimare, his top assistant, has already been named the coach in waiting for 2019, so the absolute earliest the U could call him back is 2020.
Of these four I don't think Purdue can miss at all with Jewett or Lovelady. Jewett is associated with a flashier program, but has never been a head coach. Lovelady has been excellent in his three years at Wright State and made them not only a good mid-major, but one that teams do not want to face in the NCAA Tournament. He was also a catcher as a player (for some reason they make the best coaches) and won two national championships at Miami.
Morgan Burke's picks:
I am stunned he hasn't already signed Duncan, the least proven and likely cheapest coach plus he already has Purdue ties. Hopefully this is Morgan's final hire and he won't screw it up (He will screw it up.)