We know how the process works for hiring a new coach for a major sport: we get rumors, we get SOURCES!! ... and then we get a hire that might not have had any link to the rumors and sources. ...Tracking coaching rumors is a sport in and of itself. As with recruiting, there are "winners" and "losers" in this fake game. And as with recruiting, there are hot boards. Lots of hot boards. Let's keep track of them. (Missouri basketball coaching search: The April 18 hot-list hot list, RockMNation, April 18th, 2014)
In these three major sports, Rhoades made five hires at Houston. Two were old hands, three were young up-and-comers, and one of the three young guys was a bit of a loyalty hire. After the hire of Kim Anderson, I joked that Mike Alden clearly doesn't have a type. Rhoades perhaps doesn't either. And that's fine. But Rhoades made it clear that he has a shorter leash than Alden over these last few years. He also proved that, at least while running a mid-major program (the rules might change now that he's in the SEC), he's willing to take on a redemption project and hire someone with the "shady winner" label.I wouldn't at all be surprised if there's an announcement of a hire before I even have a chance to get all my speculations posted. But here are my thoughts, such as they are:
What Mizzou Should Be Looking For
Frankly, I don’t know what coach could come in and magically make this program competitive and relevant in the SEC, because they’re so far behind in facilities and resources and weather, which you can’t change.
Where Mizzou Should Be Looking
We supposed to be SEC
- Dave Serrano, Tennessee Volunteers; previously head coach at Cal State-Fullerton and UC-Irvine; took both to CWS
- John Cohen, Mississippi State Bulldogs; previously head coach at Kentucky and Northwestern State; Mississippi State alum
- Dave Van Horn, Arkansas Razorbacks; previously head coach at Nebraska
- Kevin O'Sullivan, Florida Gators; previously pitching coach at Clemson
- Rob Childress, Texas A&M Aggies; previously pitching coach at Nebraska
- Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Commodores; previously pitching coach at Clemson
- Butch Thompson, Auburn Tigers; previously pitching coach at Georgia, Auburn, and Mississippi Sate
My Short ListHere's my short list of possibilities that may be, or ought to be, considered. It's certainly not exhaustive. Rhoades may have someone else in mind.
- Assistant Coach Hunter Mense and Volunteer Assistant J.C. Fields are the only current Mizzou assistants who have enough experience to make them possible choices, and that mostly because of their Missouri roots. Truthfully, though,neither of them has had the sort of success anyone would expect from a serious candidate for an SEC head coaching job. They'll get their chance some day, but they'll likely have to build their resume elsewhere first
- The most experienced MU alum in college coaching would be Tony Vitello, who left the Tigers for TCU in 2010, and moved to an assistant job at Arkansas for the past two seasons. I would be very surprised if Vitello isn't at or near the top of Rhoades's short list.
- Former Mizzou pitcher Matt Hobbs just finished his third year as pitching coach at Wake Forest after four years on Mizzou's staff. He previously was an assistant at the University of San Diego and UC-San Diego. If he shows interest, he should get some consideration.He did a good job during his time shepherding the Missouri pitchers.
- There are a couple of other MU alums with extensive experience in coaching - in the minor leagues. Former Tiger 2B Torre Tyson spent several years coaching in the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles organizations, and former Mizzou CF Jayce Tingler worked his way up through the Texas Rangers organization and is now a coach on the major league Rangers' staff. Both would be intriguing choices as MU head coach. They've proven themselves as developers of talented ballplayers and their pro ball experience would be a plus in recruiting. The timing may be wrong for Tingler, who is finally in the big leagues. Tyson left the coaching ranks after the 2014 season and is currently working for the Scott Boras agency.
- Another MU alum who is an assistant D-1 coach is former outfielder Bryson Leblanc (UC Riverside). He is doing good work, but UC-Riverside's record during Leblanc's tenure is not gong to attract a lot of positive attention from anyone looking to hire an SEC head coach
- Dan Heefner, Dallas Baptist. Heefner has turned DBU, a religious school without a conference affiliation, into a perennial contender in the Missouri Valley and nationally. In 2015 he took DBU to the #1 spot in the RPI rankings and deep into the postseason. He's been in Texas for awhile, but his roots are in Illinois and Iowa. A move to Missouri and the SEC could be appealing to him.
- Darin Hendrickson, St. Louis Billikens. In eight years he has built the SLU program into a competitive program. His roots are in Illinois and Missouri.
- Todd Whitting, Houston. Whitting was hired away from TCU by Mack Rhoades to take over at Houston, where he has taken the Cougars to a Regional and a Super Regional.
- Tony Robichaux, Louisiana-Lafayette, has been very successful at La-La. He has deep roots in the South. If Rhoades is looking for a candidate with strong recruiting relationships in SEC country, he could do no better than Robichaux.
- John Szefc, Maryland Terrapins: In his third year with the Terps, Szefc had his team in the 2015 Super Regionals after a long career of being a part of successful programs.
- Darin Erstad, Nebraska Cornhuskers. "The Cornhuskers have made a steady climb under their former All-American outfielder and punter. Last week’s suffocating sweep of Texas means this year appears to be a breakthrough season. Wonder if he’d ever leave his alma mater though?" (d1baseball.com)
- John McCormack, Florida Atlantic Owls. Known as a excellent recruiter, his roots are in South Florida and New York.
- John Calvi, South Alabama. Former assistant coach at South Carolina, has done well at South Alabama.
- Steve Bieser, SEMO Redhawks. A SEMO alum, Bieser was head coach at St. John Vianney HS in Kirkwood, MO, prior to returning to SEMO, initially as pitching coach. He has made SEMO a successful competitor in the Ohio Valley Conference.
- Andy Sawyers, Kansas State. Sawyers has extensive experience as an assistant coach for both Texas A&M and KSU.
- Travis Jewett, Hitting Coach, Vanderbilt. It would be nice to have the architect of Vandy's hitting working for Mizzou rather than against them.
- Rob Walton, pitching coach, Oklahoma State. Highly respected pitching coach, previously successful at ORU.
My Top 3
- Dan Heefner: Some would see this as a risky choice, going for a head coach at a mid-major school. Heefner's record of success at that small school, though, makes him a great candidate to excel at a school in a top-tier conference.
- Tony Vitello: Vitello, in my opinion, would be better as a head coach than he's been as either a pitching or hitting coach. And he'd probably stay at Mizzou for a long time.
- Torre Tyson: Tyson's personality would send a jolt through Mizzou. He'd probably be the best pick for promoting the program to the fans and community. This would also be a pick that signals we want to be a program that produces pro players.
If you're going to do something like that, is Tony Vitello your hire? And as much as I like Tony, I just don't feel like at this point that you send Tim Jamieson packing to hire an assistant at Arkansas. I'm just not sure that's your end-game. So I'm of the belief that if I'm Missouri, if I truly feel like I need to make a change, you need to go out and make a splash hire.