Sources: Rice Close To Hiring Jose Cruz Jr. As Head Coach
Multiple sources told Baseball America that Rice is close to hiring Jose Cruz Jr. as its next head coach.
Cruz Jr. is in his first season as the Detroit Tigers assistant hitting coach. He played collegiately at Rice before going on to become a major leaguer.
Cruz Jr. would be an unconventional choice. His job with the Tigers is his first as a coach—he also worked for the MLB Players Association and as a broadcaster since retiring as a player—and a major league coach moving to a college dugout is very rare.
Cruz Jr. has a deep connection to Rice, however. Not only was he one of the first big stars of the program under Wayne Graham, but his son, Trei Cruz, played for the Owls from 2018-20, before he was drafted in the third round.
Rice is at a precarious point as a program. The Owls have slipped from their heights in recent years and after making the NCAA Tournament for 23 straight seasons from 1995-2017 have not posted a winning record in four years.
Cruz Jr. would be the latest former big leaguer to return to his alma mater as head coach, a group that has recently included Eric Wedge (Wichita State), Darin Erstad (Nebraska), Troy Percival (UC Riverside) and Tony Gwynn (San Diego State).