In a summer where high-profile assistant coaches Kevin O’Sullivan, Jim Toman and Turtle Thomas have finally gotten their shots to become head coaches, there have been a couple cases of head coaches voluntarily going the other direction. First, Dallas Baptist head coach Eric Newman left to become Nebraska’s pitching coach. Then this week, Northwestern State coach Mitch Gaspard left the Demons to become the recruiting coordinator at Alabama. Gaspard will once again work under Jim Wells, for whom he served as an assistant at Northwestern State in 1993-94 and at Alabama from 1995-2001.
Gaspard has had a successful six-year tenure, compiling a 210-138 overall record and winning Southland Conference titles in 2002 and 2005. It stands to reason Gaspard is returning to Alabama in order to position himself as Wells’ eventual successor. The 52-year-old Wells might not have a lot left in the tank–he already retired and then un-retired earlier this summer.
Northwestern State, meanwhile, figures to be an attractive opening for a young coach looking to make a name for himself. The program has churned out an impressive host of coaches in recent years, including Wells (head coach from 1990-94), Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn (Demons head coach from 1995-97), Kentucky coach John Cohen (NSU head coach from ’98-’01) and Texas A&M coach Rob Childress (NSU assistant under Van Horn from ’95-’97). In addition, well-regarded assistants like A&M’s Matt Deggs, Kansas State’s Sean McCann and Southern Mississippi’s Lane Burroughs have served as assistants for the Demons.
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