Northwestern State coach J.P. Davis was forced to resign Wednesday after a 19-32 season for the Blue Demons that included a 14-19 Southland Conference mark.
“Leaving a place where you've completely invested your life for the past 12 years is difficult, but I walk away proud of the guys I coached, coached with, and especially what's gone on in the lives of so many of our former players," Davis said in a statement." We've always had a strong commitment to academic achievement in our program, we've been strong in graduating players and helping them develop as young men, and that's truly the most important part of coaching."
Davis had been head coach in Natchitoches, La., for the last five years and previously was pitching coach under both John Cohen (now at Mississippi State) and Mitch Gaspard (now at Alabama) for seven years. Northwestern State has produced a steady stream of coaches who have gone on to the Southeastern Conference, including Dave Van Horn (now at Arkansas) and Jim Wells (who preceded Gaspard at Alabama). So it makes sense to look at Northwestern State as a possible landing spot for current SEC assistants looking to become head coaches, but the pay scale for SEC assistants may have priced them out of Northwestern State's neighborhood.
Instead this could be a landing spot for someone such as Mitch Thompson, the former Baylor assistant; Chad Caillet, the recruiting coordinator at Southern Mississippi; Ed McCann, the former Centenary coach who went into private business after the Gents' program moved to Division III (after a one-year stint at Alabama A&M); or for successful LSU-Shreveport coach Rocke Musgraves, who has that program in the NAIA World Series. If the Demons want to try to hook an up-and-coming young coach, maybe they'll look at Alabama volunteer assistant Bobby Barbier, who played for Gaspard at Northwestern State and spent two years on Davis' coaching staff before heading to Tuscaloosa in 2010. Another very intriguing possibility is Mervyl Melendez, who built Bethune-Cookman into a MEAC superpower before taking on a new challenge at Alabama State this year. Mid-major programs looking for a proven winner should start their search with Melendez.
Ball State also needs a new coach as Alex Marconi was forced to resign after just two seasons. Marconi's clubs went 29-71 and just 20-33 in the Mid-American Conference after he replaced Greg Beals, now at Ohio State. Beals had replaced Rich Maloney when he went to Michigan; could Maloney, fired by the Wolverines earlier this month, resurface at Ball State? Kent State assistant Mike Birkbeck also deserves a shot at a head coaching opening, and Ball State might be the spot.
Ball State athletic director Bill Scholl worked at Notre Dame prior to coming to Muncie, so that could put former Paul Mainieri assistant David Grewe in the mix. Grewe, a former head coach at Michigan State, was an assistant to Mainieri at both LSU and Notre Dame and then was out of coaching this season.
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