Barring a Tennessee sweep against Missouri this weekend and South Carolina sweep at home against Georgia, the Vols will finish last in the SEC East standings. Several suggest that after Dave Serrano’s six seasons, the program has reached a low point. The team has not finished higher than fifth in the East during Serrano’s time at Tennessee.
As D1Baseball.com notes, Tennessee leaves something to be desired in baseball facilities and competes with regional programs North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Louisville and South Carolina for recruits.
Last Spring, Adam Sparks of the Tennessean wrote about Vanderbilt’s ascension to a baseball power as Tennessee started to skid. “In the past 10 seasons, UT has no NCAA Regional appearances and no winning records in SEC play,” Sparks writes. “But in the 13 seasons before 2006, the Vols had eight NCAA Regional berths, two SEC tournament titles, two SEC regular-season crowns and three College World Series appearances.”
As of Thursday, these are the following names FOX Sports Knoxville is hearing to take over Tennessee’s head coaching position next season. We’ll continue to update as we learn more.
Updated May 23, at 10:53 am
Listen to Boomer’s exclusive conversation with Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball here.
Bohannon is in his second year as Auburn’s Assistant Head Coach. But his SEC experience lies much deeper. From 2004-2015, he served a variety of roles at Kentucky. UK won the SEC Championship and hosted an NCAA Regional in 2012.
Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association named Bohannon Assistant Coach of the Year following the 2015 season. Current Auburn head coach Butch Thompson made Bohannon the first addition to his staff in fall of that year.
“Bohannon is an up and comer,” said national writer for D1baseball.com Aaron Fitt. “That guy is one of the premier recruiters in the country.
“If you look at the success Kentucky is having right now and the success Auburn is having right now, Brad Bohannon is largely responsible for both of those successes.”
Bohannon helped welcome Kentucky’s fourth-ranked recruiting class in 2008 and sixth-ranked class in 2009. Four other times his classes cracked the Top 25.
Josh Vitale, who covers Auburn sports for the Opelika-Auburn News, confirms a FOX Sports Knoxville report that Bohannon’s name has at least been mentioned as a potential candidate.
Currently a Major League scout for the New York Mets, Lawson has served a similar role with the San Diego Padres from 2004-2009. He scouted Georgia, Tennessee and parts of South Carolina for the Padres.
In August 2010, Todd Raleigh hired Lawson as an assistant. When the University fired Raleigh 16 months later, Lawson joined the Mets organization.
He graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan and served as the school’s head coach from 2000-2004. The team won three straight conference championships and won 121 games over those three years.
He still calls East Tennessee home, residing near Athens.
Currently the head coach at Maryland. Szefc (pronounced Chef) has coached 91 players who’ve gone on to the Major Leagues. Now in his fifth season at Maryland, the Terrapins are fourth in the Big Ten with a 33-17 overall record.
“That’s a program that’s been completely irrelevant for 50 years and he’s made them a factor,” Fitt told FOX Sports Knoxville. “Probably the best program in the Big Ten in the past five years.”
He has coached in 31 NCAA Regional games, five NCAA Super Regional games and accumulated a 746-498-4 overall record as an assistant and head coach.
Szefc served as Kansas State’s associate head coach in 2011 and 2012 including the 2011 NCAA Regional. He coached hitting and served as recruiting coordinator at the University of Kansas before K-State and John Currie hired him.
Calvi took over at South Alabama following the 2011 season. Since, the Jaguars have claimed three Sun Belt championships in four seasons.
He came to South Alabama after six years as South Carolina’s pitching coach. Calvi’s pitchers helped South Carolina to the 2010 College World Series. The pitching staff finished seventh nationally in ERA (3.45), sixth nationally in strikeouts per game (8.9) and third in hits allowed per nine innings (7.48).
The Gamecocks topped the SEC staffs in ERA, allowed the fewest hits in the conference and led the team to a 21-9 conference record.
Tennessee’s All-American shortstop who helped the 2001 team to the College World Series and then played six Major League seasons. He was the 2001 Consensus SEC Player of the Year and holds six single-season records for the Tennessee program.
“That guy knows baseball,” Fitt said Thursday. “I know it’s tricky, you’re hiring somebody that doesn’t have coaching experience at the Division I level. But he’s a Tennessee guy, he loves the school and if you talk baseball with Chris Burke, you kind of know he gets it.
“I think he can teach the game. He really knows hitting. He can evaluate talent.”
Burke would revive memories of Tennessee baseball’s successes. But he would need to surround himself with a staff proficient in recruiting and Division I roster construction.
Fitt: “If you go that route the staff that you bring in with him is certainly crucial.”
The former Alabama head coach finished 234-193 in Tuscaloosa. He served as an assistant to Jim Wells during Alabama’s College World Series runs in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
At the end of last season, Gaspard stepped down. Kansas State, then led by John Currie, hired Gaspard as an associate head coach/offensive coordinator in August. The team is 27-25 this year, to date an improvement from last season’s 26-31 record.
Between his time as an assistant and head coach, Gaspard’s accumulated a 1,280-718-3 record. His Kansas State team has the seventh-best batting average in the Big 12 currently at .249.
It is unclear how influential Currie was in hiring Gaspard last Summer. Kansas State’s Athletics Department has not returned a phone call to offer a statement.
Off the cuff, a source mentioned Florida State associate head coach and pitching coach Mike Bell. D1baseball.com named Bell the number 13 recruiter in the country this season, too.
Bell served as Rod Delmonico’s pitching coach, turning out 2006 No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar. He’s been with three Division I programs to reach the College World Series: Tennessee (2005), Oklahoma (2010), and Florida State (2012).
There’s not much that suggests Helton wants the head coaching job. But the Hall-of-Famer-to-be joined Serrano’s staff in a volunteer role this January. Dave Link wrote about Helton’s return to Tennessee’s baseball program earlier this year.
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