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Simmons Field Hot List: Is SLU's Darin Hendrickson an option?

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If Mack Rhoades is looking for someone who has a good track record as a D-1 head baseball coach and who has roots in the Midwest, SLU's Darin Hendrickson could be the man for the job. But....

Tim Jamieson and ballplayers
Tim Jamieson and ballplayers
trripleplay

Getting to know Darin Hendrickson

If Mack Rhoades is looking for someone who has a good track record as a D-1 head baseball coach and who has roots in the Midwest, SLU's Darin Hendrickson could be the man for the job.

Career

Head Coach, St. Louis University (08-present)

Head Coach, University of Central Missouri (2004-2007)

Head Coach, St. Louis Community College Forest Park (00-03)

Head Coach, Fontbonne University (95-99)

Mighty Deeds

Hendrickson has guided both the UCM Mules and the SLU Billikens to conference championships and frequent post-season appearances. From his SLU bio:

Prior to coming to SLU, Hendrickson led Central Missouri to three conference regular-season and tournament championships and twice had his team reach the semifinal round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2004, the Mules posted a school-record 57 wins, won a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship semifinals. Hendrickson's club duplicated its effort in 2005, with a 57-9 record, its sixth regional championship and a return trip to the NCAA semifinals. In 2006, Hendrickson earned MIAA Coach of the Year honors for his club's 51-13 record and the conference regular-season title. During his four seasons at he reins, the Mules posted a 209-46 record (.820).

He led SLU to three consecutive regular season Atlantic 10 titles from 2012 to 2014, going to two NCAA Regionals, in 2010 and 2013.

In 2015 his team finished with a 34-21 record, 18-11 in conference, but fell short of the conference championship, finished with an RPI ranked 99th, and was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2016 the Billikens slumped a bit,  finishing the regular season 25-29 overall with a 15-9 mark in A-10 games, and then going 0-2 in the OVC Tournament to conclude their season short of the NCAA Regionals.

Hendrickson's record at SLU is 290-219-1

Mizzou/Midwest connections

All his college coaching jobs have been in Missouri or near the Greater St. Louis area. He played at SIU-Edwardsville. He is originally from Granite City, IL, also in the STL Metro area.

Can he Coach?

From Hendrickson's SLU bio:

In eight years at the helm of the Saint Louis University baseball program, head coach Darin Hendrickson has taken the Billikens to new heights. Numerous school records, A-10 regular-season and tournament championships, and two NCAA Tournament appearances are just a few of the examples of Hendrickson's work as he has transformed the program into one that is recognized regionally and nationally.

It takes some seriously good coaching skills, both as a motivator and a nuts-and-bolts teacher, to turn around a perpetually below average program like SLU. A proven rebuilder may be exactly what Mizzou needs.

The coaching skill that led to that success were learned during a highly successful run at Central Missouri.

While some Mizzou fans will balk at the idea of hiring yet another former CMU coach, Hendrickson's accomplishments with the Mules were outstanding. And he's proved his ability to continue his coaching success at the next higher level.

Can he recruit?

Again, he has obviously been able to recruit some decent players to a school that has a poor historical track record , playing in a lower level baseball conference. That experience could help him know how to attract players who are interested in the SEC and are willing to give MU a shot. On the other hand, as I said in the Dan Heefner profile, you never know if a coach can adapt to the differences in recruiting for an elite conference.

Does he see Mizzou as a destination job?

Quite possibly. He's from the St. Louis area. To coach in the SEC would be a top goal for any coach, and to do it for a long time at Missouri could be just what a guy from the Lou would love.

Has he been to Omaha?

No. He has, however, taken Central Missouri to the D-II national semi-finals

Is he the coach to take Mizzou to a higher level in the SEC?

Hendrickson has taken a sub-par program to a significantly higher level, and has done so quickly. The SEC is a much bigger mountain to climb than the A10, but it's quite possible his coaching and recruiting skills could make the transition successfully.

At SLU he has turned a moribund program around, putting together 5 consecutive winning seasons and winning conference championships.

He was in the running for both Iowa and Penn State jobs in the summer of 2013. Reportedly he was actually offered the Iowa job, but changed his mind during the drive from St. Louis to Iowa City and turned around to go back home.

Many people who follow both SLU and MU have suggested Hendrickson is the ideal candidate to replace Tim Jamieson. In my mind, he is very much like Jamieson: a good man, good coach, who has an uneven record of pretty good years mixed with sub-par years. And he's done this in the Atlantic 10.

In my opinion, if you're going to go with Hendrickson, you might as well have stuck with Jamieson.

Notes & Links

Saint Louis finds uncommon success under coach who recognized his callingPost & Courier

Darin Hendrickson finished his college baseball career in 1992 as one of the best pitchers in the history of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, just across the Missouri River from St. Louis. He knew professional baseball wasn’t a legitimate option, so he hoped to parlay his political science degree into law school admission. Hendrickson took the LSAT and applied to several Midwestern law schools, including Saint Louis University.

"When you’re 20-something, you have a lot of aspirations," he said. "But then I realized right away that I missed athletics and maybe athletics was my calling."

He stayed at SIU-Edwardsville, became an assistant coach and got his master’s degree in sociology in 1995.

He decided that instead of chasing one title — Darin Hendrickson, Esq. — he wanted to pursue another. It would be far less financially rewarding at first, but much more gratifying in the long run: Coach Darin Hendrickson. "I think it was the best thing I ever did," he said. "The competition of sports, that was the thing I missed. Besides, the world’s got enough lawyers."


UCM Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2013 - Darin Hendrickson (YouTube)

One slight issue

And last but not least, Mack Rhoades would almost certainly want to have a conversation about Hendrickson's involvement in this SLU Baseball-related controversy from this past semester, given the current climate at Mizzou:

St. Louis American: SLU students who reported racist incident feel ignored

On April 11, the students contacted several people, including Bradley, the Black Student Alliance and student activist Jonathan Pulphus. That day, Pulphus posted the screenshot of the pitchers’ chat on Facebook and wrote about the incident. That night, Twomey said Darin Hendrickson, the head baseball coach, called him and said he was just made aware about the incident from the Facebook post – not from an administrator. "It was disheartening," Twomey said. He thought it was obvious that no investigation had taken place if the coach was learning about the incident on social media. "He told me he was aware of [the team’s] cultural problem of immaturity, entitlement and privilege," Twomey said. "He also said he wished he could recruit more players that had tougher backgrounds."