The last two days have brought a pair of coaching hires as well as the week's second notable coaching retirement. Appalachian State hired former Oklahoma State assistant Billy Jones as its head coach, while Morehead State hired Louisburg (N.C.) head coach Mike McGuire. And Middle Tennessee State coach Steve Peterson retired after 25 years.
Jones has long been considered a standout recruiter and a top up-and-coming head coach prospect in college baseball circles. He has 18 years of coaching experience, including the last eight as Oklahoma State's recruiting coordinator, preceded by three years on the staff at North Carolina State. In Stillwater, he coached the hitters and helped lead the Cowboys to eight straight winning seasons, six regionals, a super regional and a Big 12 tournament title. His work on the recruiting trail helped land 31 players who went on to be drafted. His Division I coaching career began with two seasons at Oregon State in 1999-2000, followed by one year at Arizona State. He also has head coaching experience at Green River (Wash.) CC in 1997-98.
Jones replaces Chris Pollard, who left for the head job at Duke after leading ASU to its first regional this spring.
“I’m excited to have Billy Jones on board to lead our baseball program," Appalachian State director of athletics Charlie Cobb said in a release. "His reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters is well-known throughout baseball circles and his experience in identifying top-notch student-athletes nationwide, but particularly in the state of North Carolina and the Southeast, makes him a great fit for Appalachian State. I have seen firsthand Coach Jones’ ability as a teacher when we worked together at N.C. State and believe that our student-athletes will benefit from his leadership on and off the field.”
Like Jones, McGuire is an 18-year coaching veteran. He served as Morehead State's pitching coach in 1995-96, then served as assistant head coach at Winthrop from 1997-2002, helping the Eagles to a pair of regionals and a school-record 48 wins in 2001. After that, McGuire spent three years as head coach at Division II Lander (S.C.), before returning to Winthrop as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator in 2006. As Louisburg's head coach this spring, he led the Hurricanes to a school-record 52 wins and the program's first-ever No. 1 NJCAA national ranking. McGuire replaces Jay Sorg, who stepped down after five seasons.
"I'm very excited about coming back to Morehead State,” McGuire said in a release. “I had the opportunity to get my coaching start here as an assistant under Dr. Frank Spaniol, and have gained a lot of experience over the years which has prepared me for this position.”
Peterson announced his retirement a day after San Jose State's Sam Piraro retired—and both coaches had spent the last quarter-century in their posts. Peterson is MTSU's all-time winningest coach, having amassed 791 wins, 11 regular-season conference championships, nine conference tournament titles and nine trips to regionals. He led the Blue Raiders to 30 or more wins 16 times, and cracked the 40-win plateau four times, including their school-record 44-18 season in 2009.
"I love baseball, and hopefully I've taught players to love baseball," Peterson said in a release. "But it's not about me. I've been a part of the improvement of the program. Was I the program? No, and I never tried to be. I was just an extension of it."
Associate head coach Jim McGuire, who served as Peterson's right-hand man for the past 20 years, will serve as interim head coach while the athletic department conducts a national search. But McGuire must be considered a strong favorite to land the job full-time.
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