Wednesday brought two notable pieces of coaching news: Sam Houston State hired Rice assistant David Pierce as its new head coach, and South Carolina associate head coach Chad Holbrook withdrew his name from consideration for the head job at Tennessee.
Pierce replaces Mark Johnson, who retired as SHSU's head coach at the end of the season. Landing Pierce is a boon for the Bearkats—he has carved out a sterling reputation in the last nine years as Rice's pitching coach and co-recruiting coordinator. The Owls have ranked in the nation's top 30 in ERA each of the last five years, peaking at No. 4 in 2007.
"I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from both the baseball and the Sam Houston community about his candidacy for this job," Sam Houston State director of athletics Bobby Williams said. "He is very respected by everyone I talked to, both inside baseball and out."
Pierce has been instrumental in building a consistent winner during his time at Rice. He knows the area well, making him a perfect fit for Sam Houston State. He also has head coaching experience at Pasadena's Dobie High, where he won three district championships in five seasons. Before joining the Rice staff, Pierce served as an assistant at Houston, helping the Cougars reach a regional and a super regional.
"David Pierce has an excellent track record not only on the college level, but also in high school as well," Williams said. "He is very familiar with this area in terms of recruiting, especially Houston, and that was a big factor for us."
Holbrook, another of the nation's very best recruiters, interviewed for the Tennessee job this week but ultimately decided to stay put in Columbia, close to his wife's family.
"I am flattered by the interest of the University of Tennessee but am withdrawing my name from consideration for the head coaching position in Knoxville,” Holbrook said in a statement. “Tennessee is a great institution with a great athletic program but at this point in my career I belong here at South Carolina. My family and I love the University and Columbia and we look forward to continuing to build on the championship program we've been so fortunate to be a part of."
With Holbrook out of the mix, Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano becomes the very clear front-runner to land the Tennessee job. He confirmed to the OC Register on Tuesday that he will interview in Knoxville today. Serrano told the paper that Tennessee will "have to knock my socks off to leave a great place like Cal State Fullerton," but the Titans have very little chance in a bidding war against a deep-pocketed Southeastern Conference program.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Fullerton athletic director Brian Quinn told the Register on Tuesday. "We still have a coach, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. But you always have to be prepared, so you have to plan accordingly. I have a few people in mind (if Serrano leaves) . . . there are some terrific people out there."
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