In The Wake of Serrano, Here’s A Running Tab Of Tennessee Baseball’s Head Coaching Search

In The Wake of Serrano, Here’s A Running Tab Of Tennessee Baseball’s Head Coaching Search
Boomer Dangel

Now that the 2017 Vols have finished last in the SEC East standings, you can close the book on Dave Serrano. The team did not finish higher than fifth in the East during Serrano’s six years at Tennessee.

In the arms race for head coaches, Tennessee has already missed out on one of its targets, as Alabama hired Brad Bohannon last week. That move came eight days after firing Greg Goff.

Now Tennessee has it’s list of interviewees. As of Tuesday, these are the names FOX Sports Knoxville is hearing to take over Tennessee’s head coaching position. 

Updated June 6, at 8:54 am

Chad Holbrook

As John Brice writes, many assume Holbrook to be the favorite for the position. That hinges on Holbrook’s future at South Carolina.

The head coach has suffered two seasons below .500 in conference over the past three years. This season his team massively underachieved, preseason ranked No. 5 in the country and landing No. 5 in the SEC East. Missing the postseason again does not fit the South Carolina brand – a program which once made 15 straight tournament runs.

That leads South Carolina AD (and former baseball coach) Ray Tanner to evaluate the state of Carolina baseball, including Holbrook’s future. Good read about Tanner’s decision making process and what might factor into a coach-turned-administrator’s decision from the Charleston Post and Courier here.

Holbrook carries an 81-67 SEC record, in large part thanks to the 2016 team, which won the SEC East and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional.

It is worth noting that Holbrook recruited Sevierville talent Wil Crowe who is expected to go in the top two rounds of next week’s MLB Draft.

Ash Lawson

Currently a Major League scout for the New York Mets, Lawson 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.

A source close to the program mentions that Lawson checks all the boxes Tennessee should be looking for – knowledge of the area and its prospects, success as a head coach in Tennessee, proven ability to recruit to the Tennessee program.

Lawson recruited and signed Boston Red Sox standout Mookie Betts to Tennessee. Betts opted into his Major League contract in 2011.

He still calls East Tennessee home, residing near Athens.

Chris Burke

Burke is on the books this week to be interviewed, according to Brice.

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 in May. “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 revives memories of Tennessee baseball’s successes. But many sources have expressed their concern about his lack of experience. 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.”

John Szefc

Currently the head coach at Maryland. Szefc (pronounced Chef) has coached 91 players who’ve gone on to the Major Leagues. His fifth season at Maryland finished yesterday with a loss in the NCAA Regionals. The Terrapins ranked fourth in the Big Ten with a 38-23 overall record.

Szefc has been tied to the Tennessee job from day one. He brings head coaching experience and the ability to turn around slumping programs. Three Maryland players reached All-American status in 2015, the first since 2002.

“[Maryland] is a program that’s been completely irrelevant for 50 years and he’s made them a factor,” D1Baseball.com writer Aaron Fitt told FOX Sports Knoxville. “Probably the best program in the Big Ten in the past five years.”

He has coached in 34 NCAA Regional games, five NCAA Super Regional games and accumulated a 751-504-4 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.

His team got eliminated this year by West Virginia, a team led by…

Randy Mazey

Mazey’s West Virginia team dropped its final game of the year to Wake Forest, preventing a Super Regional appearance. The team capped a 36-26 (12-12) season, fourth in the Big 12.

His head coaching lifespan doesn’t include a losing record since 1995. He took East Carolina to three straight NCAA Regionals and the 2005 Super Regionals. That came after spending four years as Tennessee’s pitching coach.

Mazey was part of Tennessee’s 2001 College World Series team, which saw the Vols finish third. He oversaw a pitching staff of which six players signed professionally. The year before, UT enjoyed the second-best ERA in the SEC.

He’s also served as pitching coach and associate head coach during TCU’s prolific run of six straight NCAA Regionals. He saw 18 pitchers get drafted while the school topped 40 wins each year.

His record is 160-127 at West Virginia through five seasons.

Mark Calvi

Calvi took over at South Alabama following the 2011 season. Since, the Jaguars have claimed three Sun Belt championships in four seasons.

USA got bounced from the NCAA Regionals over the weekend. They finished the year 41-20 overall.

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.

To complement well-known pitching success, this year’s South Alabama team led the country offensively in walks (6.1 per game) and near the top in scoring (8 runs per game), on-base percentage (.415) and home runs (78).

Mitch Gaspard

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 pulled in at 29-26 this year, an improvement from last season’s 26-31 record.

Between his time as an assistant and head coach, Gaspard’s accumulated a 1,282-719-3 record. 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.

Mike Bell

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).

Boomer Dangel hosts Overtime weeknights 6-8 pm on FOX Sports Knoxville and promises to get back to all emails: Boomer@sportsradioknoxville.com.

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