Jimmy’s blog: Currie looking for right fit for baseball

Jimmy’s blog: Currie looking for right fit for baseball

SANDESTIN, FLA. — If Tennessee athletic director John Currie is on the verge of hiring a new baseball coach, he isn’t giving any hints.

“Like with any search, we won’t comment on the search until we introduce our new coach,’’ Currie said.

Is there a timetable?

“As with any search that we do, we will move as expeditiously as we can while still being very thorough,’’ Currie said. “We always have to remember our student athletics during a search transition are in a period of uncertainty. It’s in everybody’s best interest to reduce that uncertainty as much as possible.’’

Currie would not acknowledge if he has interviewed any candidates.

Among the names that have been speculated:

Michigan head coach Erik Bakich, a former seven-year assistant at Vanderbilt

Maryland head coach John Szefc, a former Kansas State assistant when Currie was at K-State.

Ray Tanner, athletic director at South Carolina and former World Series champion as baseball coach of the Gamecocks, is very high on Bakich and Szefc.

Tanner also likes Mitch Gaspard, who took Alabama to four NCAA Regionals in seven years as Alabama’s coach. Gaspard is now an assistant at Kansas State.

Several former Vols with no head-coaching experience have been mentioned: Chris Burke, Alan Cockrell, Rick Honeycutt.

Some with knowledge of baseball favor Ash Lawson, a former UT assistant under Todd Raleigh who is now an advance scout for the New York Mets.

Currie has not hired a search firm. Nor does he have a search committee. He does have an “informal internal group working on the process,’’ according to a UT spokesman.

Currie said there are times when he’s used a search firm.

“It just really depends on the circumstances,’’ Currie said. “Sometimes it depends on the timing. If a search was unexpected, perhaps maybe you might feel like you need to have some outside assistance in some way.

“But at the same time, we should have some relative level of preparation for any search. … Any experienced A.D. should bring to the table the ability to have a pretty good trusted network of contacts to ensure we make the best possible decisions.’’

Currie said he doesn’t just look at a candidate’s won-loss record. It goes beyond that.

“How does this person we bring to our athletics family treat the other people in the department?’’ Currie said. “Does this person have a commitment to academic success? Does this person have a commitment to treating his or her student athletes with respect?

“You can always look and see what somebody’s record is. That’s pretty obvious. But you’ve got to be able to dig down to make sure that when you bring someone into your department, you’re bringing someone whose character matches our expectations.’’

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