Names you hear, you don’t and should think about for Tennessee baseball job

Chris Burke (L) & Larry Simcox (R) / Credit: UT Athletics

Names you hear, you don’t and should think about for Tennessee baseball job

Chris Burke (L) & Larry Simcox (R) / Credit: UT Athletics

By Vince Ferrara

This is a compilation of names that have shown up on lists from media outlets, names that fans have asked me and those of us at Sports Radio WNML about AND names that make sense, in my opinion, for John Currie to look into for the head baseball coaching position at the University of Tennessee.

I’ve shared some background on each candidate and in some cases some analysis. I’m not endorsing all the names on the list. Some have virtually no chance to be UT’s baseball coach no matter how great they are. This is my way to address the candidacy of some of those names in one spot.

Some of the coaching records listed below will change slightly through conference tournaments.

Below the list of candidates below, you’ll find Vince’s Views on the types of candidates that are most likely to be hired, and based on that, the top 10 that fit the bill.

Head Coaches
John Szefc
-Current Maryland Head Coach
-Pronounced (Chef)
-34-19, 15-9 in Big 10 this season
-176-116 in 5 seasons at Maryland
-Won 30+ games all five seasons there including two 40+ win seasons
-Former assistant at Kansas State with John Currie as AD there
-Was on the staff of 2011 NCAA Regional team at Kansas St
-Offensive-style coach with aggressive running approach

Andy Sawyers
-Current Head Coach at Southeast Missouri
-29-24, 16-14 in OVC this season, his first
-Former assistant coach at Kansas State until leaving for head coaching opportunity
-Was at Kansas State while John Currie was there as AD
-Quote from John Currie when Sawyers was hired as HC at Southeast Missouri:
“Andy Sawyers played an integral part in the development of our baseball program during some of the most successful seasons in our history. He was instrumental in our NCAA Tournament runs in 2009 and 2010, and his recruiting efforts were critical to our Big 12 Championship and Regional Championship season in 2013. I am excited for Andy to get the opportunity to fulfill his career-long goal of being a head coach, and I know he will do a terrific job leading the Redhawk program.”
-Spent 4 seasons as associate head coach at Texas A&M

Randy Mazey
-Current West Virginia Head Coach
-33-22, 12-12 in BIG12 this season
-344-283-2 in 11 seasons at West Virginia
-Four seasons as the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach at Tennessee including 2001 CWS team

Chad Holbrook
-Current South Carolina Head Coach
-33-24, 13-17 in SEC this season
-198-104 in 5 seasons at South Carolina
-Was a top candidate for UT job when he was an assistant at South Carolina and Dave Serrano was hired, but he withdrew his name from consideration, stayed and later became SC’s head coach when Ray Tanner moved up to AD
-There’s some discontent with the fan base at SC from a down year this year
-I don’t see this happening; would have to be a situation where he’s looking to restart the clock to in a new spot, but seems unlikely to be a legit candidate

Tom Walter
-Current Wake Forest Head Coach
-38-17, 19-11, 2nd in Atlantic Division in ACC this season
-234-215 in 8 seasons at Wake Forest
-Only active coach in the country to lead 3 different programs to the D1 NCAA Tournament (Wake Forest, New Orleans and George Washington)
-Ranked in the Top 15 in the polls currently

Erik Bakich
-Current Head Coach at Michigan
-42-14, 16-8, 2nd place in the Big 10 this season
-134-102 in 5 seasons at Michigan
-Was Maryland’s head coach for 3 seasons
-Seven seasons as an assistant at Vanderbilt under Tim Corbin
-Only 39 years old

Cliff Godwin
-Current East Carolina Head Coach
-30-27, 7-17 in last place in AAC this season
-108-72-1 in 4 seasons at East Carolina
-SEC experience as an assistant at Ole Miss, LSU and Vanderbilt
-Reportedly interviewed with Bama then was offered and turned down the job last off-season
-That got him a new deal shortly afterwards
-Under contract at ECU through 2022
-How difficult or costly would that contract be to get out of?
-Coming off a rough season would be a tough sell to fans despite overall success

Scott Berry
-Current Southern Miss Head Coach
-44-13, 25-5 and regular season champs in CUSA this season
-293-170-1 in 8 Seasons at Southern Miss
-Has won 40+ games two straight seasons
-Top 25 ranked team right now

Travis Jewett
-Current Tulane Head Coach
-27-30, 13-11 in AAC this season in first year at Tulane
-SEC experience as an assistant at Vanderbilt

Mark Calvi
-Current South Alabama Head Coach
-36-19, 22-8, 2nd in Sun Belt this season
-167-129 in 5 seasons at South Alabama
-SEC coaching experience as an assistant coach at South Carolina

Chris Finwood
-Current Old Dominion Head Coach
-37-19, 19-11 in CUSA this season
-145-137 in 6 seasons at Old Dominion
-Spent 5 seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn
-Tigers went to the NCAA Tournament 4 of those 5 seasons
-Had Old Dominion ranked in the Top 25 last week

Matt Riser
-Current Head Coach at Southeastern Louisiana
-36-18, 20-10 2nd place in Southland Conference
-156-81 in 4 seasons at Southeastern Louisiana
-Won 40+ games the last two seasons
-Has one of the highest winning percentages in Southland Conference history (.658)
-Only 32 years old

John McCormack
-Current Florida Atlantic Head Coach
-33-20, 18-12 in CUSA this season
-315-202 in 9 seasons at FAU
-No SEC experience

Lane Burroughs
-Current Louisiana Tech Head Coach
-36-18, 17-13 in first season this year at Louisiana Tech
-No prior head coaching experience
-Was assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with John Cohen at Mississippi State

Craig Gibson
-Current Mercer Head Coach
-39-15, 17-6 and regular season champs in SoCon this season
-470-339 in 14 seasons at Mercer
-Team has hit 481 home runs the last 7 seasons

Brian Green
-Current New Mexico State Head Coach
-35-20, 19-5 in WAC this season
-80-81-1 in 3 seasons at New Mexico State
-Was assistant coach/offensive coordinator at Kentucky

Matt Bragga
-Current Tennessee Tech Head Coach
-37-19, 23-7 and regular season OVC champs this season
-389-378-2 in 14 years at Tennessee Tech
-Became a head coach in JUCO ranks at 25
-Fans would likely not receive the hiring of a coach from a smaller in-state school well

Mike McGuire
-Current Morehead State Head Coach
-35-21, 18-11 in OVC this season
-180-156 in 5 seasons at Morehead State
-This season, Morehead State leads the nation in runs per game (8.9), runs (492), hits (681) and on-base percentage (.426)
-The Eagles rank second in the nation with a .332 batting average and .519 slugging percentage
-Regardless of success or stats, fans would not be excited about a hire from Morehead State

Assistant Coaches
Larry Simcox
-Current Tennessee interim head coach
-Two stints as a Vols assistant coach including the last two years and during the glory days of UT baseball
-Over 30 years of coaching experience
-Highly thought of in college baseball
-Would have to overcome being on teams that have failed to reach the NCAA Tournament
-Could get an early look from John Currie since he will be around running the day-to-day team duties, and if the search drags-on he could get a late look if things have gone well in the interim

Mike Bell
-Current Associate Head Coach and Pitching Coach at FSU
-Three seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee
-Was on the staff the last time UT made the postseason and advanced to the CWS
-Has helped all three D-1 schools he’s coached (UT, FSU and Oklahoma) to the CWS
-Helped recruit and develop 22 pitchers who were selected in the Major League Baseball draft, including 2006 No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar at Tennessee
-Does not have D-1 college head coaching experience

Bradley LeCroy
-Current Clemson Assistant Coach
-Pronounced (Luh-croy)
-10 seasons as a Clemson assistant
-3 seasons as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennessee under Todd Raleigh, 2008-2010
-Would have to overcome the stigma of the unsuccessful Raleigh era
-As is the case with Ash Lawson, is known well by AD John Currie, who was key in hiring Todd Raleigh
-Was also part of Raleigh’s staff at Western Carolina prior to being hired at UT

Fred Corral
-Current Assistant Coach and Pitching Coach at Georgia
-Had two different stints as assistant coach at Tennessee (2003-2004 and 2008-2009)
-Pitching instructor in Los Angeles Dodgers organization
-Pitching instructor in Montreal Expos organization
-Pitching instructor for MLB International
-Career assistant (24 years) would likely work against him

Bill Mosiello
-Current Associate Head Coach, Hitting Coach and Third Base Coach at TCU
-In his 4th season at TCU
-Former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Dave Serrano at Tennessee for two years
-Also was an assistant at Tennessee in 1993 and 1994 where he coached Todd Helton
-Has led the Horned Frogs to three straight CWS appearances and back in the Top 10 in the rankings now to potentially do it again this year
-Offensive production drastically improved under his guidance but was down this year, even though the team has still been successful
-Former minor league manager in the Angels and Yankees organizations
-Had one-year assistant stints at Auburn and Ole Miss in the past as well
-Has sons named Shane, Gehrig and Helton…coincidence on the last one?

Clay Greene
-Current Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at Memphis
-Played at Tennessee in the mid 90s
-Was a volunteer assistant at UT for three seasons including the 2005 CWS season
-Wife played soccer at Tennessee
-Brother Brad played at UT in the mid 90’s as well

Tony Vitello
-Current Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Arkansas
-4th year this season at Arkansas
-One of the most highly regarded assistant coaches in the country
-Mentored and recruited the 2015 National Player of the Year, Andrew Benintendi, now of the Boston Red Sox
-Mentored and recruited the 2008 National Pitcher of the Year, Aaron Crow, while he was an assistant at Missouri
-Signed the nation’s #1 recruiting class in the nation in 2014
-Signed the #6 class in the country last season
-Also mentored 5 other first-round picks including Max Scherzer and Ian Kinsler
-Was an assistant at TCU
-Played at Missouri

Mike Clement
-Current Ole Miss Hitting and Third Base Coach
-3rd season at Ole Miss as an assistant
-Was previously at Kansas State as an assistant for two years during the time John Currie was AD
-Wildcats had the nation’s second-best batting average in 2013
-Team won the Big12 title and won its NCAA Regional
-Was also an assistant at Texas A&M

Kevin McMullan
-Current Associate Head Coach at Virginia
-14 seasons at UVA, 10 as Associate HC
-Was a minor league manager in the Atlanta Braves organization
-Was acting head coach at East Carolina one season and led them to an NCAA Regional
-Does not have SEC coaching experience

Brad Bohannon
-Current Auburn Assistant Coach
-Was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Kentucky
-2015 National Assistant Coach of the Year in College Baseball at UK
-Helped UK to highest recruiting classes in program history & only SEC Championship
-Recruited and coached the National Player of the Year, AJ Reed, at Kentucky

Alan Dunn
-Current LSU Pitching Coach
-One-time Baltimore Orioles Bullpen Coach
-Former Minor League Pitching Coach in the Chicago Cubs organization
-Was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt
-Played at Alabama, so may be a more likely candidate for the Tide’s opening

Gary Henderson
-Current Pitching Coach at Mississippi State
-Former Head Coach at Kentucky
-Went 258-199 in 8 seasons at the helm in Lexington
-Was 2012 SEC Coach of the Year
-28-year coaching veteran

Mitch Gaspard
-Current Assistant Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Kansas State
-Hired in August of 2016 at Kansas State while John Currie was the AD there
-Former Head Coach at Alabama
-234-193 in 7 seasons (2010-16) including 4 NCAA Regionals at Alabama
-Some years, did not have highly-rated recruiting classes compared to top-level SEC programs
-Very well-respected baseball man that succeeded with talent he had and with subpar facilities at Alabama prior to their renovation of Sewell-Thomas Stadium
-30 years of coaching experience, 13 as a head coach

Scott Brown
-Current Associate Head Coach and Pitching Coach at Vanderbilt
-5th season at Vanderbilt
-Has led the Commodores pitching staff to over 200 wins and among the nation’s staff strikeout leaders annually
-Does not have D1 head coaching experience

MLB Candidates
Alan Cockrell
-Current New York Yankees hitting coach
-2nd season as Yankees hitting coach
-Star player at Tennessee
-Played quarterback for Tennessee football as well
-Would be popular with the fans, especially with recent success and being a VFL
-Great job with a historic major league franchise, would he want to leave that for UT? I would be surprised

Rick Honeycutt
-Current Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach
-12th season as Dodgers pitching coach, 4th longest tenure in MLB
-Star player at Tennessee
-Same as above…great job with a historic major league franchise, would he want to leave that for UT? I would be surprised
-Up in age (62) having played at Tennessee in the 70s

Ash Lawson
-Current advanced scout with the New York Mets
-Was recruiting coordinator at Tennessee under Todd Raleigh
-Responsible for signing Red Sox all-star Mookie Betts to Tennessee, who signed with the Red Sox after the coaching change
-Was not retained when Dave Serrano was hired
-Great evaluator of talent
-With MLB scouting experience, understands the challenges of competing with major league baseball for prospects to get the right ones to sign and go to school
-Would have to overcome the connection to the Todd Raleigh era with fans
-Should have an easier time overcoming that with John Currie, who was at UT and key in hiring Todd Raleigh

Joey Seaver
-Current Pitching Coach in the Texas Rangers Organization in the Minors
-Pitching coach of Spokane Indians (Short Season Single-A)
-Played at Tennessee
-Was drafted 4 times during his college career
-Highly successful pitching coach at Walters State Community College
-31 pitchers he coached at Walters State were selected in the MLB Draft
-Spent time as a pitching coach in the Boston Red Sox organization
-Was a pitching coach at Carson-Newman
-Has a connection to Tennessee, but doesn’t have the name draw to overcome the lack of head coaching and D1 baseball experience

Chris Burke
-Current ESPN/SEC Network college baseball game analyst
-Star player at Tennessee
-Three-time All-American and SEC Player of the Year at Tennessee
-Named to the all-CWS all-tournament team in 2001
-First round pick of the Houston Astros
-Played 5 MLB seasons for Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres
-Is a fantastic, smart analyst calling SEC games with current knowledge of the league
-Was a player at UT while John Currie was at UT the first time
-Had interest in the Vols head coaching job when Dave Serrano was hired
-Would surely have interest in the head coaching position again
-Has no college baseball head coaching experience
-Has not taken assistant coaching opportunities in the past
-Spent one season as a volunteer coach at Louisville
-Would be one of the most popular hires because he’s a VFL and many anticipate he could recruit top kids to come play for Tennessee, especially in-state and the southeast

Todd Helton
-Current Tennessee Baseball Director of Player Development (volunteer position)
-Star player at Tennessee
-One of MLB’s all-time great hitters
-The name that would likely excite fans the most
-The “Peyton Manning” dream scenario for UT baseball fans with the same outcome
-There is at least one example of a star player with limited coaching experience coaching at his alma mater and succeeding…Darin Erstad at Nebraska, who like Helton, is one of the most decorated players ever from his school. He spent one year as a volunteer assistant in 2011 before taking over the program in 2012. He has been very successful there.
-Does he even have an interest in being a college baseball head coach?
-This job requires you to grind all year recruiting and you have to deal with limited scholarships and family involvement in their sons playing careers
-I’m confident this isn’t something he has any interest in doing
-He enjoys his family, golf, other business interests and schedule flexibility too much even though he loves the University of Tennessee
-You should concentrate on other candidates

Vince’s View
I believe that Tennessee will go the younger coach route for its next baseball coach, either as a rising assistant ready for their first program to run or a current head coach that’s fairly early in their career. Current or very recent SEC experience should be a very likely trait as well. Coaches with ties to John Currie are also strong possibilities.

With that criteria in mind, the 10 most likely candidates would be (in no order): John Szefc (Maryland HC), Andy Sawyers (Southeast Missouri HC), Erik Bakich (Michigan HC), Mark Calvi (South Alabama HC), Travis Jewett (Tulane), Brad Bohannon (Auburn Asst), Alan Dunn (LSU Asst), Mike Bell (FSU Asst), Mike Clement (Ole Miss Asst) and Tony Vitello (Arkansas Asst.)

If you set your expectations at former Vols in Major League Baseball, the broadcast booth or the UT hallways as a volunteer coach right now, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Half the league right now, as well as numerous elite coaches around the country, were hired without previous D1 head coaching experience. You can get a first-time, elite championship coach from the assistant ranks. The trick is, to pick the right one.

There are 38 options listed above. There’s a good chance the right pick is listed. Good luck with your pick.

Country News


  • Forecast
  • Currents
  • Planner