Baseball America has confirmed an Atlanta Journal Constitution report that Kent State’s Scott Stricklin has agreed in principle to become the next head coach at Georgia. The hire is expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday after Stricklin clears routine background checks, according to the AJC.
Sources identified Stricklin as the front-runner for the Georgia job as early as last weekend, and the Bulldogs made the perfect hire. Stricklin’s track record at Kent State is exceptional. In nine years, he led his alma mater to five regionals, capped by its first-ever trip to the College World Series last year. His Golden Flashes won five regular-season Mid-American Conference crowns and five MAC tournament titles. The Flashes have won 35 or more games in six straight years, including three 40-plus win seasons.
Strickln also has had success as an assistant in the Southeastern Conference, spending two years at Vanderbilt in 2000-01. After that, he proved himself as an elite recruiter during his three-year stint as an assistant under Danny Hall at Georgia Tech, so he already has connections in the state.
With its rich talent base, solid tradition, great college town and the HOPE Scholarship supplementing its 11.7 scholarships, Georgia is a great job, and Stricklin is perfectly equipped to win big there.
At this stage, it is unclear whether or not Stricklin’s excellent assistants, Scott Daeley and Mike Birkbeck, will accompany him to Athens or not. Both should be candidates for the head job at Kent State if they want it, but it’s worth noting that Birkbeck already turned down that job in 2004, before the Flashes hired Stricklin. Baseball America’s assistant coach of the year in 2012, Birkbeck has often said that he isn’t interested in being a head coach, but he is one of the nation’s best pitching coaches. He has served on the Kent State staff for 17 seasons, working with Rick Rembielak and Stricklin, and he might not be interested in relocating to Georgia.
Daeley, a former Wake Forest player and volunteer assistant during the Demon Deacons’ heyday a decade ago, has proven his mettle as Kent State’s recruiting coordinator over the last nine years. If Birkbeck wants to remain at KSU as the pitching coach and Daeley ascends to the head job, the Golden Flashes would retain continuity, and that duo is is a winning combination.
Or the Flashes could look at external candidates, especially if Daeley and/or Birkbeck head to Georgia with Stricklin—and it is a very real possibility that both of them could join him in Athens. Wright State’s Rob Cooper would be a logical target if the Flashes want to hire an established head coach. We’ll throw out some of the same Midwest assistant candidates we mentioned for the Cincinnati job: Louisville’s Chris Lemonis or Roger Williams, Indiana’s Ty Neal, Purdue’s Jeff Duncan, and Pittsburgh’s Danny Lopaze. St. John’s Mike Hampton would be a neat hire from the Northeast.
The Kent State job could also be attractive to a big-name assistant from the SEC or ACC, as it was to Stricklin nine years ago. So keep the usual suspects in mind (Virginia’s Kevin McMullan or Karl Kuhn, North Carolina’s Scott Forbes or Scott Jackson, Mississippi’s Cliff Godwin, Arkansas’ Todd Butler, Mississippi State’s Butch Thompson, and so on).