Santa Clara replaced one O'Brien with another. Mark O'Brien stepped down as the Broncos' head coach after completing his 10th season at the helm, and Thursday the school hired UC San Diego coach Dan O'Brien to fill its head coaching vacancy.
Dan O'Brien turned UCSD into a Division II powerhouse during 14 years as head coach. He led the Tritons their first D-II College World Series in 2009 and steered them to the national championship game in 2010, when they went 54-8. UCSD won its fourth California Collegiate Athletic Association title under O'Brien in 2011, though it was upset before reaching the CWS. In June, righthanders Tim Shibuya and Guido Knudson became UCSD's first two drafted players since 2003.
"We are so pleased to be bringing Dan O'Brien aboard to usher in a new era in Bronco baseball," Santa Clara athletic director Dan Coonan said in a statement. "He is a phenomenal baseball coach, as baseball people will attest to, but an even better person. He embodies the type of values Santa Clara holds so dear, and that manifests itself in his coaching style and philosophy. He is quite accustomed to running a successful baseball program at a top academic institution. He is a perfect fit for Santa Clara and is ready to bring the program to new heights. We can't wait."
Santa Clara has some of the better facilities on the West Coast, which is why it hosted the super regional between California and Dallas Baptist this year. Those facilities made the job attractive to candidates like San Francisco's Nino Giarratano, UC Davis' Rex Peters and Oklahoma State assistant Billy Jones.
In other coaching news Thursday, Southern California hired California pitching coach Dan Hubbs as its new pitching coach, USC head coach Frank Cruz said. A standout pitcher for the Trojans from 1990-93, Hubbs spent seven years as a minor league pitcher, then joined the Cal coaching staff in 1999. He has built a fine reputation as a pitching coach and recruiter with the Golden Bears, helping construct a team that reached the College World Series this year for the first time since 1992.
Another candidate for the USC job was San Diego State assistant Eric Valenzuela, who has also interviewed for the pitching coach job at Oregon. The Ducks are also expected to announce that they have hired Jay Uhlman away from Kansas to be their hitting coach, replacing Mike Kirby (who left for Cal State Fullerton). Uhlman served as a volunteer assistant at Oregon in 2010 before heading to Kansas this past season.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, have already replaced Uhlman with South Dakota State head coach Ritchie Price, a former Kansas shortstop and the son of KU head coach Ritch Price. Ritchie Price was 24 when South Dakota State made him the nation's youngest Division I head coach in the summer of 2008. The Jackrabbits have finished in the top three of the Summit League in each of Price's three seasons at the helm, even tying perennial power Oral Roberts for the regular-season title in 2010.
Finally, Central Florida hired former Miami hitting coach Joe Mercadante as its new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, replacing Cliff Godwin, who left for Mississippi. Mercadante spent seven years at Miami working with the hitters and catchers. "Joe has a proven track record for developing hitters and catchers at the highest level of college baseball, along with an outstanding reputation as a relentless recruiter," UCF coach Terry Rooney said in a release.
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