Texas Baseball Coaching Profile: Candidates To Replace David Pierce


Texas on Monday fired David Pierce after eight seasons at the program’s helm.

Pierce went 297-162 with the Longhorns and led them to the College World Series three times (2018, 2021, 2022). They missed the NCAA Tournament just once (2019), won the Big 12 title three times and hosted regionals three times. Pierce was Baseball America Coach of the Year in 2018, had the Preseason No. 1 team in 2022 and won more than 40 games four times.

But, at Texas, the expectation isn’t so much Omaha as winning in Omaha. The Longhorns made the bracket final in 2021, finishing the season ranked No. 3 in the country, but never broke through to the championship series. Texas has won six national championships, third most in college baseball, and has played for the title six other times. It has not done either since 2009.

Texas this season went 36-24, finished third in the Big 12 and had a tough NCAA Tournament exit. It was knocked out of the College Station Regional after a brutal, extra-innings loss to archrival Texas A&M.

That NCAA Tournament exit came more than three weeks ago now. Pierce’s ouster has been heavily rumored throughout college baseball for at least as long. Now, on the day of the final college baseball game of the season, Game 3 of the CWS championship series between Texas A&M and Tennessee, athletic director Chris Del Conte made his move.

Del Conte arrived at Texas about six months after Pierce was hired. Since then, he has made a series of high-profile moves for one of the biggest brands in college athletics. He will undoubtably swing for the fences when hiring for this job, which has always been one of college baseball’s biggest. The stakes are even higher today, as Texas will officially join the SEC next Monday and could tonight see its biggest rival win its first ever CWS title.

Don’t expect this job to be open long. When Pierce was hired in 2016, it came at the end of a long, protracted search that saw several high-profile coaches interview only to decide to stay at their current jobs and get big raises. Texas doesn’t want that again, especially in the transfer portal era. It will likely have a new coach by the end of the week.

While some are already questioning how good the Texas job truly is, make no mistake, it’s a great job. It might not be the shining star it was in the 20th century, but the brand, facilities, fan base, tradition and location are all elite. The next coach will have to figure out how to engage a bit better in the transfer portal and with NIL, not an easy task at Texas, but also one that other sports at the university have worked out. Its softball team just played for the national title and its football team made the playoffs. Texas may have a slight adjustment on the diamond to the SEC, but there’s no reason why the Longhorns can’t win at an elite level.

We will update this post if more information becomes available prior to an official announcement.

The Candidates

Jim Schlossnagle, head coach, Texas A&M: This has been the hottest rumor in college baseball for weeks and the subject of discussion for years. Schlossnagle and Del Conte worked together at TCU and that partnership worked out quite well for the baseball program. It’s completely understandable why Del Conte would want to bring that dynamic to Austin. What’s harder to understand is why Texas A&M would allow that to happen.

Texas A&M hired athletic director Trev Alberts in March. Allowing the school’s biggest rival to hire away his coach, who is playing for a national championship, is inviting crisis within his first six months. Meanwhile, hiring Schlossnagle would require a multi-million-dollar buyout. While Texas has that kind of money, baseball has never seen a buyout of that level. It’s not a pipe dream to think this might happen, but it would be quite the coup if it did.

Tony Vitello, head coach, Tennessee: Another popular rumor has Vitello trading one UT for the other. Losing him wouldn’t constitute quite the same level of crisis as losing Schlossnagle would for A&M, but it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for athletic director Danny White. Vitello has revived Tennessee, is playing for a national title and has been to Omaha as many times in the last four years as his two predecessors made it to Hoover in the decade before he arrived.

Vitello was an assistant coach at TCU under Schlossnagle, overlapping with Del Conte’s tenure. Those Texas ties, his recruiting prowess and the growth of the Tennessee program under his watch all make for a pretty attractive package. But he has an incredible thing going at Tennessee. Pulling Vitello out of Knoxville won’t be easy.

Skip Johnson, head coach, Oklahoma: Johnson was Auggie Garido’s pitching coach at Texas from 2007-16. After Garrido retired, Johnson went to Oklahoma for one year as an assistant coach before he was promoted to head coach. In seven years with the Sooners, he is 229-153, led them to a runner-up finish at the 2022 CWS and this year won the program’s first conference title since 1995. He’s a Texas native and has proven himself as a high-level head coach. Texas fans seem focused on Omaha right now, but they shouldn’t overlook Johnson.

It really shouldn’t get beyond that trio. If it does, Texas will consider the who’s who of college baseball coaches. Don’t look to LSU’s Jay Johnson of Virginia’s Brian O’Connor. However, Wake Forest’s Tom Walter, Georgia’s Wes Johnson, Dallas Baptist’s Dan Heefner, Clemson’s Erik Bakich and Oregon’s Mark Wasikowski all would merit consideration.

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